The Dreaded Winter Photography Rut. 7 Tips to Help you Stay Inspired.

January can be tough.  The nights are long and the days are short. It’s often very cold up here in the Northern Hemisphere, especially where I live, and we are sometimes stuck inside with cabin fever. By this time of year we’ve already had a couple months of winter and with a few months to go before spring starts blooming we can start to feel kinda blue. 

I, however, actually love photography during the winter months!

Here are a few tips on how I stay inspired and avoid the dreaded winter photography rut:

1. Bundle up and head outside

There are plenty of days when spending some time outside is absolutely possible. Here, we bundle up in our winter gear and off we go. There’s a ton of fantastic childhood winter moments to capture and personally I love how those winter toques, that’s Canadian for hat, covers up unsightly hair! I have a small collection of colourful toques, mittens and scarves that I can pop on my children before we head out into the winter elements. My children play joyfully in the snow and I capture all those rosy red cheeks and fun snowy moments. They don’t seem to mind the cold like I do!  

Tip: Make sure your camera is protected from winter elements like wet falling snow. I use a plastic rain sleeve and it works great! You can find rain sleeves in most photography stores and through online retailers. 

ISO 1000, 35mm, f8, 1/320ss

ISO 1000, 35mm, f8, 1/320ss

2. Indoor treats

I don’t know if this is the case at your house, but at mine, after we’ve played outside in the cold a warm treat is always requested. Absolutely! As long as I can capture that moment with my camera.  

Tip: Capture details like those little fingers clasped around a warm cup of hot chocolate.

ISO 400, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/800ss

ISO 400, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/800ss

3. Bring the outdoors inside

Alright, I get it! The winter chill is not for everyone but snow and winter atmosphere can be gorgeous! I like to try and capture outdoor elements, like falling snow or a snowy backdrop, from the inside of my home. 

Tip: Try setting your exposure triangle for the brighter outdoor light allowing your subject to fall into the shadow or try a silhouette. This will allow for you to showcase the outdoors from the inside of your home.

ISO 200, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/200ss

ISO 200, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/200ss

4. Don’t be afraid to use artificial light

Natural light is at a premium during the winter months.  Often my children leave for school in the darkness of the morning and by the time they’ve settled in at home after school the daylight is almost gone. I’ve learned to enjoy embracing the challenge of artificial light. No I don’t have any fancy equipment here! I like to use light sources such as an iPad, computer or lamp.  

Tip: Use a high ISO to keep your exposure settings balanced. My ISO during the winter can be upwards of ISO 2000 or higher inside my home.  

ISO 3200, 35mm, 1.6f, 1/800ss

ISO 3200, 35mm, 1.6f, 1/800ss

5. Practise your low light photography

My house does not get a lot of bright natural light during the winter months with it’s position to the sun but what I do get are unique patterns of light. I’ve learned to embrace low light photography. 

Tip: Look for fun patterns of light that might only occur during the winter months. 

ISO 3200 35mm, 1.8f, 1/200ss

ISO 3200 35mm, 1.8f, 1/200ss

6. Take advantage of that early hour golden light

The light during the winter months is incredible. I find as the sun lowers itself to the horizon the light becomes soft and buttery in a stunning way.  I adore this type of light. 

Tip: Try faking a golden hour look.  It’s quite possible during the winter months because the sun is low to the horizon. Use a natural screen like a forest or treed backdrop to help filter some of the light during the day when backlighting your subject. 

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.5f, 1/1600ss

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.5f, 1/1600ss

7. Try something creative

Still feeling uninspired? Try getting creative. This is when it’s time to try that genre of photography you’ve always wanted to try, like macro or maybe landscape. How about trying to freelens? Do you have a Lensbaby you’ve been neglecting? What about shooting through something like glass or crystals. Trying something new is bound to stir up those creative juices and leave you feeling inspired!   

Tip: Don’t put expectations on yourself here! Just click away on your shutter embracing the potential for creativity.  

ISO 800, Freelensed, 1/500ss

ISO 800, Freelensed, 1/500ss

all content and images © Gina Yeo Photography, 2019