Photographing the Seasons

Rewind a year and I was dreading winter. I couldn’t see the positives in months on end of wet, cold, miserable weather, but I also had another worry. What was I going to photograph for my Instagram now that the photogenic seasons of spring, summer and autumn had faded? When I thought of taking photos in winter, I imagined no light, dull scenes and trying to make the most of festive decorations. I scrolled back to the previous few winters and hated all my images.

Feeling at a loss, I signed up to Sara Tasker’s Gloom & Glow e-course, and this completely transformed my outlook on winter photography. Rather than hiding inside, I was heading outdoors at all opportunities to capture the gloomy scenes and subtle light that I was learning to love. I then spent the next year refining my photography style and learning to embrace the seasons – both in my photography and through how I live.

I now find myself eagerly anticipating the seasons changing to autumn and then winter. I’m looking forward to waking to mist, cloud, rain and snow, as I already have ideas for photographs in my head. I much prefer the light at this time of year than the harsh, bright light of the summer months. I’m especially looking forward to photographing twinkling festive lights, both inside and outside of the home.

 Looking back over my old photos, I can see that I was thrown by the seasons. I didn’t know how to keep my style consistent, so adapted it each season or for each location to suit how I thought I should shoot. There are many photographs that I love from years gone by, but they could be by anyone. I’d like to think that my photos are now more recognisable. They flow throughout the seasons, feeling consistent in their tone. Even through the summer months, I’ve shot dark and moody photographs, and paid attention to finding the light. I owe a lot of what I’ve learnt to Sara’s course, but I’ve picked up other bits along the way, simply by accepting each season for what it is.

If you’re struggling to accept that summer is over, or need a little guidance on how to take beautiful photographs this autumn and winter, I’ve shared a few photography cues below. These are intended to get you thinking about what to photograph, rather than suggesting specific shots to attempt. If you share any photos resulting from my cues, please do tag me on Instagram so that I can check out your work.

 Autumn / Winter photography cues

  • Play around with bokeh. Shoot out of focus on gloomy or misty days or at night, creating soft bokeh with your lens.

  • Get up close & personal. Zoom in on the little details, rather than always photographing the bigger picture.

  • Focus on all things cosy. The steam rising from a cup of coffee, a pile of blankets, a roaring fire, warm socks, flickering candlelight.

  • Get outdoors. Whatever the weather, embrace it. Find the contrast on misty days, focus in on raindrops, find the movement in the wind.

  • Refine your colour palette. Look at the colours surrounding you and use them in your photography. For me, this is grey, white, green and rust during the autumn and winter months.

  • Share the atmosphere. Embrace all things moody and dramatic, such as dark hills, brooding cliffs, gloomy woodlands and shadowy corners.

  • Find the light. Whether you’re shooting indoors or outdoors, pay attention to where the light is coming from and build your image around it. This could mean photographing an object with bokeh in the background, focusing in on the flame of a candle or capturing how a beam of light brightens up a hillside.