Winter is here, and if like me you live in the Northeast (or any other snowy part of the world), you know the inclement weather and dark days can really put a damper on creativity. Some days it feels as if I’ll never see the sun again. It’s dark when I leave for work in the morning and dark when I arrive home in the afternoon. As a photographer and creative, the lack of light can feel overwhelming. Finding Creative Inspiration is hard!
Does this scenario sound familiar? While winter may be dreary, it doesn’t have to put a damper on creativity. In fact, winter is one of my favorite times to learn and experiment with new techniques.
In this article we’re diving into ways you find creative inspiration in Winter, and keep creativity alight during a season of darkness.
Spring might have you feeling all light and airy but winter is an excellent time to embrace mood. All of the dark and shadows can make for some powerful storytelling. Crank up that ISO and experiment with low light photography. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you create.
Not sure where to begin when creating moody style imagery? Look for pockets of light and shadow within your home. Place your subject in shadow with just a sliver of light landing on them. The falloff will highlight your subject in a dramatic way.
Struggling to find pockets of light? Make them! Experiment with artificial light sources such as string lights, lamps, iPad screens… even the light from your refrigerator! There’s no limit here. Sure, you might get some wonky images. But you might also get some really amazing ones.
Speaking of artificial lighting… off-camera flash can be a game changer during the winter season. It’s like having a personal sun that you can take anywhere! Whether you are bouncing flash to create soft, even light, mimicking window light, or using a stand and modifier for a more dramatic look, the possibilities are endless.
The following images were all taken using OCF. As you can see, you can create a variety of looks and feelings with this one handy little device. While there is a little bit of a learning curve, Laura Froese has an amazing course through the Academy that will get you up and running in no time.
Hygge (pron. hoo-gah) is a Danish word synonymous with coziness and comfort. Think textured blankets, yummy scented candles, a warm cup of coffee – whatever makes you feel happy and comfortable. Hygge can also be used to describe a feeling of togetherness that comes from being around people that we love.
Our brains are programmed to seek balance in all situations. What better way to balance out the cold of winter than creating images that scream cozy?
Some ways that you can incorporate hygge into your photography are:
During the winter we have to take advantage of all of the sunshine we get. This means getting out and playing in the snow once in a while! It gets your body moving (hello endorphins) and gives you an opportunity to photograph the scenery.
My family enjoys a good sledding session, and you can bet I have my camera ready to go when we hit the hill. I’ve also photographed my children building a snowman, skiing, and having a snowball fight.
It might seem intimidating to take your gear out in the snow – especially with all of the money you have invested – but with a little precaution you can keep your gear safe and document some awesome memories.
Before shooting out in the snow, I like to give my gear some time outside (10-15 minutes) to acclimate to the temperature change. This helps keep my lens from fogging up and ensures I get the shot. I also make sure to keep my camera body dry – no setting it down in a snowbank. Accidents happen and most camera bodies have some level of weather resistance, so don’t worry too much if your gear gets a little snowy. Wipe it down with a soft towel and wait until it’s fully dried before using again.
Properly exposing your images in the winter can be a bit tricky as your camera’s exposure meter views the snow as a highlight. Metering for zero will result in images that are muddy and underexposed. I like to use spot metering and the zone system to ensure proper exposure. Not familiar with the zone system? Try evaluative metering and set your exposure to +1.
Winter is the perfect time to experiment with techniques that couldn’t fit in during the busy season. Double exposure, composite imagery, creative editing… there’s no limit to the possibilities! You might also try your hand at a personal project, such as a “day-in-the-life” (documenting each hour of the day with an image), color project, or making it a goal to shoot in every room in your home.
I also enjoy breaking up the monotony of the snowy season by experimenting with new gear/accessories (my hubby just loves this expensive habit of mine). Items I’ve added to my kit include Lensbaby creative lenses, macro filters, and a variety of crystals and fractals for fun optical effects. Once I’ve invested in new equipment, I make it a goal to shoot with it until I’ve mastered it.
Can’t decide on a focus? There are a number of download & go courses available in the Hello Story Academy that are sure to get your creative juices flowing. Some of my personal favorites are:
Every season has its perks, and winter is no exception. While it can feel easy to fall victim to the dark days and monotonous routines, a few simple practices will help keep the creative inspiration coming.
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