Stephen King once said that to be a writer, you have to be paid for something you've written. I think that's a fair criteria for a "professional" photographer. The dividing line between enthusiast and professional is the ability to earn a living from it and, while that qualifies me both as a writer and a professional photographer, it relegates my landscape photography to the realm of the amateur. I've never been paid for a landscape. I've given them to people as gifts, and been asked for signed copies by friends, but I've never made a penny on them. They remain a hobby, albeit one to which I dedicate most of my energy.
Taking pictures of people certainly isn't easy. It takes effort, charisma, timing. I get it. But landscape photography, in the right hands, is transformative. Look at Mitch Dobrowner, for example. He takes storms and southwestern landscapes and shapes them into postcards from hell, or venus, or somewhere. The potential of photography is to both record a moment, and mutate that moment into something entirely new. To freeze an image in time, and also create something totally unique. At its best, landscape photography exemplifies what's best about photography as an artform. You are recording, and you are creating.
I am no Mitch Dobrowner, or Ansel Adams, or anyone for that matter. I started landscape photography in earnest about a year ago and, while I get better every day, I'm hardly what anyone would call an expert. I do it because I love being outside. Landscape photography conditions you to see the world in ways you never had before. Where you might once have just driven to work, you now notice the clouds, and the light, and the sky. It forces you to really look at the world, to wring the beauty out of every frame.
Large format has proven to be the most extreme example of this, (a single large format exposure might take an hour to capture) but digital photography forces the same instincts to awaken. When my lady and I recently attended a wedding outside Ithaca, we stayed at a small bed and breakfast. Our first morning there, I climbed down to a small creek behind the house with my camera and a cup of coffee and took this picture.