What “winter” means to you depends on where you live, of course. I live in the Midwest, where winter is definitely colder, grayer, and soggier, than the rest of the year.
Just being honest here, but my favorite season is NOT winter. Statistically speaking, it’s not yours either.
And that’s no problem.
But today, for all of our benefits, I thought I’d share how taking pictures has helped me appreciate these months for all their beauty and gifts.
Below is another one of my favorite winter pictures I’ve ever taken. It was on a tucked-away country road I happened upon in Wooster, Ohio a few years ago. I realize it looks kind of desolate and the shapes are a little dull. But the sun behind the clouds changes the mood of the thing for me. Sometimes, I actually pull it out when I’m feeling despairing or frustrated in my life.
I think the reason why I like it is because every time I come back to it, the thing I notice first is the darkness; how the ground looks frozen through and the buildings themselves may very well be shivering. It’s only after that I see the gigantic sun bursting through the clouds, as if it weren’t right there competing for attention. It’s right there!
Anyways, I like how plainly this picture spells out that the sun’s still there, promising to bring leaves back to the trees and to warm the ground soon. I guess sometimes just looking at it is like a prayer when my heart feels cold and I don’t have the words.
That’s one of the reasons I love photography the most. It can communicate so much in a matter of square inches.
But, there are more reasons. So many more! Ready?
7 reasons why you should get out and take some winter pictures:
- It gets you out of the house. Left to my natural inclinations, I would hibernate all winter, so having a goal of capturing a picture of something beautiful or interesting is at least some motivation to get myself out the door.
- Winter pictures are the best to look back at! Some of my favorite family photo album pictures are of tiny me wearing snow-pants. Or anybody wearing snow-pants, really. Even when there’s not a lot of snow (or no snow in your region!), hats and mittens are great photo accessories for kids and adults. Staging a winter photo shoot, even just in your backyard, is a good excuse to take pictures of the people in your life.
- If you’re feeling grumpy, it can give you a new perspective fast. Sometimes when I’m cold I get grumpy. But if I can get myself trundled up, there is a lot of beauty happening out there that is 100% unique to these months. I’m trying to do a better job of noticing, and it’s not hard once you make the attempt.
- If you have kids in your life, it can be a fun activity to include them in on a walk around the block. If they’re too little to operate the camera (or touch your phone), they can be the “scout” and let you know if they see a bird or a snowman or whatever it is they want to take a picture of. You can print out the best of the batch for artwork in their room. They’ll be so proud.
- Speaking of art. You don’t have to be a professional to make your own. Do you have a favorite tree? You could make a series of photos of it through the year. Starting now! Or if you’ve been imagining a new gallery wall, this could be your opportunity to put your own fingerprint on your collection.
- Most of you reading this probably have a camera (or several) within ten feet of you right now, so you are excuse-less when it comes to tools.
- As far as photography goes, winter has some unique advantages over other seasons. Below, I’ve compiled some of my favorite reasons why. Enjoy!
My favorite things about winter photography:
Finding frozen treasures. When temperatures fall below freezing, you never know what you might find preserved in ice. I found this little ice berry outside my old apartment in Wooster, Ohio. Also, puddles and ice on the ground make for amazing reflection photos. Just look down.
While I love trees when they are leafy and green or red or orange, there is also something beautiful about a branches. Just look up.
With more gray days, and less natural color, winter makes for great silhouettes and black and white photos. These guys were just hanging out in front of my parents house. But the silhouette thing works great for people too!
Because the sun hangs lower in the sky for longer during the day, the sun itself makes for an interesting subject. If you tried to do this during the summer, your whole photo would be washed out. I’m sure if I was in photography school, I’d be told I was wrong for liking pictures like the one below, but I love photos that are slightly obscured by the sun or where the blur of the sun is the main attraction. I took this last year in D.C. on the train after work. It was cold outside, but the colors were so warm and inviting.
Also, because of the sun’s position, it makes for great shadow pictures. Especially in wooded areas where all the trees are casting long shadows, for cityscapes, and even portraits with playful shadows.
Also, for some reason, I find it very satisfying to capture “coldness” in a photography. The photo below of the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, I took on a frigid December night. I feel it looks the part.
One of my favorite parts of the Patricia McLachlan story Sarah, Plain and Tall was when Sarah talks about her favorite colors being the colors of the sea, and how they change depending on the weather. If you live near water, you know what I mean. The water can look like an entirely different lake or ocean from one day to the next. There’s beauty in the winter colors of water, and the winter colors of the sky and the way the light hits the sand as well. This is from winter at Sanibel Island, Florida.
I also like discovering winter berries. They make for pretty pictures.
The only thing I think I’m missing here are some cute kids in snow-pants pictures. I’ll work on that for next time.
So, that’s my challenge for today. Make it your goal to get out and take a few winter pictures. And if you feel up for sharing, email me a photo or two at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to see what you come up with!
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