When we think about the holidays, we think lights, decorations, family, and all things magical! But what about the quiet moments? You know, those moments when the change of seasons wraps itself around you and all your senses crave everything warm and peaceful? Winter has a way of telling us to slow down. To focus on self-care, and to feed our hearts with activities that are filled with love, light, and rest. It’s important to take time for capturing cozy during this time of year!
Capturing these moments is what I live for this time of year. Sure, all the magic of the season is also so fun to explore. But let’s face it: 99.9% of my days are spent with big fuzzy socks, a warm blanket, and snuggles with my kids. The coziness fills me with a sense of peace. Being able to express that feeling through my photography enhances that.
So what are some things that scream “cozy” to you? A certain spot in your home? Warm cocoa by the fire? Fuzzy socks, a warm blanket, and a great book? All of these things come to mind because they include sensory elements we associate with coziness: a certain colour, a smell, texture, or sound. Maybe all of the above. Close your eyes and think of a time you felt that all over peaceful coziness. What was the biggest contributing factor to that feeling?
Diving into what comprises a comfy aesthetic, the first thing I’ll look at is colour. Colours can trigger different moods. To invoke comforting, relaxing colours, you want to look at saturated, dark tones of a warm hue like red, orange, and gold. Neutrals combined with warm tones are also considered cozy colours, as well as blues and greens in their darkest iterations, like navy and moss. Combining these shades of cozy tones together using colour theory creates the ultimate comfy atmosphere.
Here, the red and green are complimentary colours. Using a deep shade of both hues, and the added light bokeh adds that little bit of holiday magic to the coziness of the scene.
Next, I’ll discuss smells. Since we’re looking at what makes the holidays comfy, what are some smells you associate with this season? Some big ones for me are cinnamon, mint, hot cocoa, pine trees, wood burning in the fireplace, fresh snowfall, and sugar cookies baking. Many of these elements are easily added in to flatlay images, but you can incorporate some of them into other perspectives as well. Cinnamon, for example, can be incorporated a million different ways. You can use ground cinnamon in baking images, as well as cinnamon sticks around baking utensils, hanging in trees, sticking out of hot cocoa, in garland hanging in your home. The possibilities are endless.
Textures play a big role in portraying a cozy scene. Think big chunky blankets, throw pillows, knit sweaters, and fluffy socks. But on top of these more obvious textures, things like leather bound books, pine needles, plants, wood grain from a table, cooking utensil, or simply a pile of wood by the fire also all add to the textural effect of your image. Layering your textures can also help add depth and moodiness. For example, having plants or your Christmas tree in either the foreground or background (or both) adds that depth, while also drawing the viewer’s eye to your main subject.
Certain sounds are specific to the holidays, while others are more general. But in the right setting can convey a comfy holiday scene. I like to add home décor into my images quite a bit, and have some wall plaques with sayings on them. Some are of Christmas carols. Although the plaque doesn’t make a sound, the song itself gives you that holiday vibe. Other things might be instruments. Pianos with holiday décor on top, drums, guitars, etc. – anything that, to you, says holidays. There are also the more subtle sounds like the wood crackling in the fire, gifts being opened (or wrapped), or the calm silence of snow falling outside the window.
I would encourage you to explore what cozy means to you, how you go about surrounding yourself with this feeling, and what elements you can add to your photography to convey that feeling to others. Combine all the senses into one photo for the ultimate comfy-cozy experience!