All photographers have their own unique approach. Some have it all worked out beforehand and they take only the necessary exposures needed to realize their vision. Most of the time this is not what I do. I have have a much more exploratory approach to photography.
It usually involves going on a trip in the car or hiking at some interesting location. If I drive, I drive slowly so that I can experience more. Walking is great too because its slow so I don’t miss things. I often travel the really small roads and they often take me to amazing places. I also get to meet interesting people. Locals tend to become curious when they see a photographer. They take interest in me because I take interest in their place. Often they tell stories about themselves and the surroundings and offer advice on where I should go and when.
It is possible to take family and friends with you but if you do you must be prepared to sacrifice some locations and shots. It must be terribly annoying to come with me on a photo trip. I stop the car all the time (and not always in good spots). I lie on the ground, climb rocks and take extended walks around the site only to drive a hundred meters and stop again because I realized the angle was better there. When on holiday on Tenerife I brought my entire family on a car trip up to the Volcano Teide but I also went up a second time on my own to get more material.
I urge you to give this style of photography a try. Its a lot of fun. Sometimes you come home empty handed. You didn’t get anything remotely spectacular. It’s a risk you take. This is part of the game. What if you don’t have access to great scenery? It works anyway! Try to challenge yourself by taking great photos of an average location with boring lighting conditions. It will really put your photographic skills to the test as you will have to learn all the tricks in the book about composition, lighting, color and mode.
The second part of my approach to photography is the post production of the images. Often I look at the photographic event as a gathering of raw materials. When I have a good photo I have done half the work. My editing usually drastically changes the photo. Often I’m trying to amplify a mode or a feeling that was actually there when I was at the scene. As you might have noticed when photographing fantastic scenery, the images often come out underwhelming compared to the real thing. That has to be compensated for in post.
After each photo trip I make I have a lot of raw material. I love mining old photo trips for new photographs to edit. It’s something for me to do on rainy days. Although, you should never underestimate rainy days… 🙂