I’m Theo Bosboom, ask me anything!

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Hi everyone, my name is Theo Bosboom, I am a passionate landscape and nature photographer from the Netherlands! In 2013, I gave up my career as a lawyer to pursue my dream of being a full-time professional photographer. I never looked back and am still enjoying the life of a full-time photographer very much! For me, nature photography is a perfect mix between exploring the natural world, creative expression and being in and close to nature.

Like many other landscape photographers these days, I do have a strong preference for intimate landscapes. But unlike many others, for me this preference has been there from the start and was not related to the Covid restrictions or the progression of my age and experience: wink: It is in my photographic DNA. This might be related to the fact that I live in the Netherlands. Moreover, it fits with my aim to take photos that are personal and distinctive and that have not already been taken thousands of times by others as well. Although it is great to occasionally capture a glorious wide landscape, I get more satisfaction from the images I have been able to make by looking carefully and using my imagination and creativity.

In my work I focus only on Europe, believing nature in my continent is underestimated and has much more wild nature to offer than people tend to think. At the same time, I can hereby avoid intercontinental flights and the associated large CO2 emissions.

I am passionate about working on projects and helped to set up the Project review session on NPN. Currently, I am working on a couple of projects myself, including a book project about European canyons. I am also passionate about photobooks. So far, I have published 4 books: Iceland Pure (2012), Dreams of Wilderness (2015), Shaped by the Sea (2018), and Back to Iceland (2022).

I do like photo competitions. I have been successful in prestigious competitions like WPOTY and EWPOTY and have been a judge in many competitions as well. Just like last year, I am in the judging panel of the NLPA.

For the AMA I would be open to discussing the environmental impact of landscape photographers. When I started as a professional photographer almost 10 years ago, I had little doubt about my positive impact on the earth. Now, a little older and perhaps a little wiser, I have a more nuanced opinion. I think that we landscape photographers should take a more critical look at our own impact and do more to actually keep the balance positive.

Although my own environmental behavior is still far from perfect, I am trying to find ways to reduce my impact on the environment (see the article I wrote about this for OnLandscape magazine:
What else is there to say? I am a proud father of two daughters of 13 and 11 and am happy to have a girlfriend who also loves nature and photography. I do love music and I am a sports fan as well.

I am very curious about your questions, don’t be shy!

Website: Theo Bosboom – Nature and landscape photography

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Hi Theo, had to drop in here when I saw you were doing an AMA tricky one to start…

You are pretty widely recognised (at least by professionals!) as producing some of the most original bodies of work at a time when many photographers are doing similar things.

What do you think is the secret to that originality and what should other photographers be doing if they want to produce work that is distinctly their own?

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Hi Theo,

As both an entrant and a judge in photography competitions, I’m interested in your view on how useful they are for a photographer to judge the worth of his/her own images?

I do enter competitions (with varying degrees of success!), and my own view is that they are a terrible way to judge the worth of your own photos, but nevertheless can give an indication of how they are viewed by others who (if the judges and judging process is robust) know what they’re talking about.

Hi Alex, thanks for your question, I really appreciate it! I think I do not have a real secret, but I do have some thoughts about creativity and originality in nature photography in general. First of all I believe many photographers are still too much focused on technique and craft, rather than expressing their feelings or thoughts through photography. And many photographers are still trying – consciously or consciously or subconsciously - to fit into the templates of a good photograph created by workshops, learning books, Instagram, magazines etc. This is a big restriction to creativity. In general always strive to make work that is new and fresh. Of course this doesn’t work always and it should also not become a burden during photo sessions, but as a general starting point, it works fine for me. And the funny thing is, it’s often less difficult than you think. When I start a new project, I look into Google images and stock agencies to see what’s already there on the subject and see what I can add. This is often much more than I thought beforehand. Last but not least I think it is important to be inspired not only by other nature photographers, but also by photographers in other disciplines, painters, music, etc The inspiration is then often more indirect and leads more quickly to your own original creations in your photography. Hope this is an answer, obviously there is much more that can be said about it.


Good morning Theo!
You’re a firm believer in working in projects, often long-term projects culminating in a book. What would you say were the most important learning benefits to working like this? In other words, how does this help someone’s development as a photographer?

Hi Theo,
After several years of using a wide angle lens I started shooting more intimate shots but I feel like I am still thinking of composition as I did in wide angle. so my question is what is your process when you are working a scene, what are you looking for and thinking about when building a composition? Thank you!

Hi Andrew, thanks for stopping by and thank you for your question! I think you provided a good answer yourself  Indeed results in a well established competition with good judges can give an indication of how your images are viewed by others. You can certainly learn from that. And also your own selection process can be very instructive, because you are carefully assessing your own work. But if images don’t get far, it is not necessarily a sign that they are not good or evocative. Often it is largely a matter of taste. If often find that my most innovative and fresh images are totally neglected in competitions. That can be frustrating, but I try to tell myself that the world is maybe just nor ready for them! And in a very overconfident mood, I then think of Vincent van Gogh :wink: So, summarized, I would advice you to keep joining contests, but make sure the results never throw you off balance.


Hi Madeleine, thanks for joining the AMA, I really appreciate it! And yes, I do strongly believe in the benefits of project based working, it’s the only thing I do myself these days. Let me quote from my article for OnLandscape about this topic, I think it’s a good summarization:
"I myself find it very enjoyable and enriching to work on a project basis and do not experience it as a creative restriction at all. On the contrary. The different requirements involved in delivering a project have made me look at things differently and I feel my photographic horizon has broadened. In addition, it gives me peace and focus. Before, I still often wanted to do everything at once on a beautiful morning in the field (landscape, wildlife and macro), but now I can focus and limit myself better and that generally produces more compelling images. Finally, I find the additional aspects of project-based work - i.e. the things besides the actual photographing - fun and challenging. Think of coming up with and working out themes, doing research on subjects and areas, writing accompanying texts, selecting the series from the available images and presenting the final result. You can put a lot of yourself into this and thus make it very personal.
Working in projects is also important if you want to increase your establish your name as a photographer or if you want to start working as a (semi-) professional photographer. Good photo series on a specific theme or area are interesting for magazines, presentations and exhibitions. And whereas you can generally only apply once to a particular magazine with a portfolio, this limitation does not apply to photo series from projects. "


Hi Tamar, thanks for your excellent question!
I think it is indeed important to let go of wide-angle thinking when working with a longer lens. After all, this assumes the build-up with foreground and background and that is often not useful or necessary with a long lens. I find that in the field I often look at what appeals to me most, for example a striking tree or mountain or beautiful structures. I usually zoom in on that and then try to build my composition around that. In doing so, it is important that there are no distracting elements in the picture and that the main subject is well highlighted. Lots of practice and experimentation will definitely help you to get out of the wide-angle mode!

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Hi Theo,
I see that you are very interested in our impact on the environment. You say in one of your excellent articles: “It is therefore worthwhile looking into whether you, as a photographer, can reach a different audience” to limit this impact. I feel we often neglect a very important audience, the youngest generation. How can we as photographers best reach out to children (apart from our own) so that they hopefully don’t make as many of the mistakes which we have made?

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Hi Mike, thank you for your question, very much appreciated!

I think you raise a very good and important point. It’s something I want to do more with myself. Ways that I see are, for example, visiting schools to talk about your work and show pictures and thus get young people thinking. But also, for example, publishing in (online) magazines that are read by young people or being present with your images on media that are popular with young people, such as Tiktok. And I know there are some great initiatives by other photographers like Suzi Eszterhas that provide free workshops for young nature photographers (in that case for girls).

The challenge for professional photographers is that these things can take a lot of time and effort, without also generating income. I personally plan to investigate whether there might be subsidies to make this a bit easier. And some things we should just do because they are so important.

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Hi Theo. Since you were part of the jury for Wildlife Photographer of the Year the first year I landed an image in the competition (thank you!), I was wondering if you could provide some insight into the judging process for such a huge contest.

I think the evaluation process is a mystery to many, and there are always rumors flying about how it’s accomplished (everything from categories being divided up and “assigned” to individual judges in the early rounds, to the process not being completely anonymous). If you can describe how much work it takes for a small judging panel to whittle tens of thousands of photos down to a few dozen winners, and what the jury is often looking for, it would give us a rare glimpse at the judges’ perspective.

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Hi Theo,

You probably became a photographer out of love for photography and creation. On the other hand, you are also strongly involved with nature and the environment. As humans, we can do our best to keep our footprint as small as possible, adhere to the principles of Nature First and do everything within our power to contribute to a healthy planet.
That could very well be separated from your photography. Or do you think that in your role as a photographer you should or could do something extra to raise awareness?
Well-known photographers have a large audience and can therefore reach many people. Hobby photographers have a smaller audience, but are with more and can therefore reach many people as well. We now mainly share images that point out the beauty of nature. But is that enough? Or does it cause everyone to think that nature is (still) beautiful and that the damage is not too bad? Would it help to take a different kind of images? Like you did, for example, with your series about the flooded flowers and the burned Veluwe. Do you think nature photography will move more in the direction of environmental alarming images in the future? Or is it more convenient and better to see your role as a human and as a photographer mostly separately?

Dear Max, thank you for your question! I still remember your fantastic bison photo very well and I’m still with that jury decision :wink:

The WPY is an exceptional photo contest in many ways and the judging process is no exception. I am not authorized to tell all the ins and outs, but I can lift a corner of the veil. The competition is set up very professionally and the judges receive extensive guidelines about judging. They must also endorse that the judging is fair and transparent. The judging is indeed anonymous, but you can never prevent yourself from recognizing some photos because they have been published before or because they are from photographers you know. As a juror, you try not to let that affect your verdict. If an image makes it to the finals by a photographer friend or someone who has coached, for example, you must report it, so that the other jury members know in any case that you are not completely unbiased. Because the jury is quite large and diverse, I think that favoritism would have little or no effect anyway.

Judging takes place in 2 parts. The preliminary judging is now done by the jury members themselves, each of whom is assigned a number of categories. You are expected to reduce the number of images in this considerably, so that manageable numbers remain for the final judging. It’s a lot of work, because you might get 15,000 to 20,00 images to review.
The main judging takes place in London and takes almost a whole week. In several rounds, the number of images per category is reduced to the winners. In the beginning, voting goes fairly quickly, but in the final phase there are extensive discussions. It’s nice to have a jury that can work well together, because sometimes compromises have to be made. And occasionally investigations are made or the photographer is contacted if images raise questions in any way. The presence of biologists and other scientists makes it possible to test whether stories are correct and whether taking a particular photo was ethically sound. If necessary, specialists from other departments within the NHM are called in. All in all, it is a very careful procedure, which I found extremely educational and inspiring to experience.

What has stuck with me from the jury process and also from other jury experiences is the great importance of originality. You are presented with such an enormous amount of good images that are all more or less the same (the same subjects and places, photographed in the same way), that at some point you crave something different and new. So take a risk when selecting and submitting and choose images that are different.
Hope this helps a little bit, cheers Theo

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Hi Theo! I am a sony shooter, and I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask this question. When I’m shooting my Sony A1 with my 200-600 lens (hummingbirds) it will be spot on the bird, in focus, etc. But, right when I go to push the button, it will go blurry! Even on different settings, like I have it on “bird”, different focus spot sizes, etc. But it just kills me how I’m tracking and all is in focus, then it just shifts out. I don’t recall this happening with I shot a DSLR. Sometimes I, even tho I still have the blurry bird in my focus area, it stays blurry. I have to zoom down to a larger part of the flower it may be on it, get it to focus, and then go back up and hope the bird is still there. Have you ever had frustrating situations like this and what do you recommend for settings? No idea what I could do to fix this, it may be a mirrorless issue? Thank you!

Hi Feli, nice to see you here and thank you for your great question!

I think it would be good if we didn’t separate our roles as humans and photographers, if possible at all. I don’t think it is a bad thing that nature photographers show the beauty of the natural world, this is still very necessary. But I don’t think that it is enough these days, moreover if we mainly show our images to other photographers or nature lovers who don’t need to be convinced anymore.

I believe we can and should do more. How exactly is a personal matter. For instance I use my Facebook account sometimes also for political and environmental issues, urging people to vote green or to sign petitions. And I try to give more backgrounds to my images on Instagram, not only showing the beauty, but also maybe the threats and fragility connected to a certain place. These are only small steps, but I still think they are important and can make a small positive contribution. Other photographers like Paul Nicklen or Paul Hilton go much further than this and have become real conservation advocates with a large following.

On the other side I think it is important to assess your own negative impact as a photographer. For instance when flying to far away locations for phototrips or buying new gear frequently. I don’t want to say we shouldn’t do this anymore, but I think every photographer should be at least aware of the side effects and maybe also start thinking how to reduce them. I still fly a couple of times a year, but I did reduce the number of flights considerably. For example I have started to refuse most invitations to speak at photo festivals when they involve flying and I have turned down an offer to guide a tour in Antarctica, because I think the environmental impact of such a trip is too big and I believe it is maybe better if we wouldn’t go there at all. More about this you can find in my article for OnLandscape “7 ways to reduce our environmental impact as landscape photographers”.


Hi Judy, thank you for your question! It sure sounds like an annoying problem, but I am afraid I can’t help you solve it. I am not a Sony shooter (Canon) and I don’t do wildlife very often. Maybe it helps to contact Sony about it?

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Hi Theo, thanks for doing an AMA! I am struggling to come up with a good question at the moment, but I feel like I should ask something because you are such an inspiration to me.

I really love the two photo books I have from you and return to them regularly. Just out of curiosity, would you provide more insight on your European canyon book project? How is it going? What is going well and what are you struggling with? How much left do you have to do, and what year does your crystal ball say it might be published? Or whatever else you feel like you can say :grinning:


I found your ‘lifting the veil’ reply re: judging processes particularly interesting! I’m hoping maybe you feel comfortable enough to expand a bit based on the following question.

I would be curious to know how much of jury discussions during the judging process revolve around the creativity/originality and or ‘What.made.you.stop.and.shoot.this.image’ aspects of the submitted images vs the ‘technical’ aspects of those images. I.e., choice of shutter speed, is an image ‘tack sharp’, etc. All that exif related mumbo jumbo.

I ask because it seems almost everyone in the world accepts the old saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ as gospel, but when photographers gather in our own little groups…be it here on NPN, or FB Groups, or any other flavor of ‘discussion forum’, the discussions we have seem to revolve almost exclusively around the technical aspects. All kinds of folks will jump in with comments about shutter speed, leading lines, border merges, yada yada. But ask everyone to discuss what moves them (or doesn’t) about an image and/or what is the ‘leading actor in a starring role’ of an image, and a not insignificant # of participating photographers go silent. Nary a word to say.

IMO, one of the best ways to improve our image making overall is to improve our own visual literacy. I struggle with it as much as anyone but am SO burned out on the technical discussions that my own participation in online critique discussions has dwindled almost to the point of non-participation over time.

Hopefully I didn’t ramble too far out of the lane I started out on.


Hi Brent, thank you so much for your interest in the AMA and your kind words!

My book project on the European canyons is progressing quite well. I think the book could be ready in the 2nd half of 2025. The subject is a bit more difficult than the coast for all kinds of reasons, but the great thing is that I photograph a lot in places that are still completely or fairly unknown, especially in Eastern Europe. Due to the water that is almost always present, the geological formations, the often steep walls and the sometimes special vegetation, there is more than enough to photograph. Moreover, in Europe there are often many stories and legends associated with the canyons, I want to try to do something with that as well. I shoot with ‘regular’ equipment and also with the drone (very useful for canyons) and occasionally underwater equipment. What I find difficult is to determine the last places I will go to and to determine when I have enough material. But I find that difficult with every project. Cheers, Theo