With Spring in the air and all the blossoms and fresh new leaves budding I think it’s a great time to talk about nature and your photography in it! Taking photos in Nature is hands down one of my favorite things ever!
ARE YOU CONNECTED TO NATURE?
If you don’t think you are very connected to nature think again! I bet that you are connected in more ways than you realize! For example, the smell of fresh cut grass instantly evokes a feeling of Summer. The crunch of leaves underfoot is a classic reminder of Fall. When it rains you feel one way, when it’s sunny you feel another. Nature is all around, subtly affecting us and sending signals to us whether we are aware of it or not.
YOU CAN USE NATURE TO ENHANCE YOUR STORYTELLING
My point with all this Nature talk is to help you understand that you are connected to nature and you can use this to enhance the storytelling of your photographs. You can document the first flowers of Spring, the colors of the leaves as they transitions from Summer to Fall or the beauty of the first snowfall. Whatever season you are in right now you can harness that and use it to enhance the storytelling of your portraits.
SPECIAL PLACES IN NATURE
I also find that I have strong emotional connections to specific places in Nature and those places evoke a great sense of nostalgia within me. A very specific place, for example, would be the driveway to our home. I have taken dozens of photographs in this location over the years and documented not only the changing of the seasons, but also the changes and growth of my family. It is a beautiful way to create a time stamp for your life. Are there any places that you connect with? Think about your life and places that have meaning for you and start using them in your photography.
ARE YOU A BEACH PERSON OR ARE THE MOUNTAINS YOUR THING?
Are you a beach person or a mountains person? I bet you have been asked that question before and there is a reason why! Deep down we all have places in nature that resonate with our soul. It speaks to who we are as humans and helps us get to know each other on a deeper level. Maybe you feel an instant connection to a fellow mountain lover? For me hands down it’s the beach. Don’t get me wrong I love me some beautiful mountains and I have taken lots of photos in them, but the beach has my heart forever and ever and ever.
CONNECT WITH YOUR VIEWER
Tapping into these emotions can evoke powerful feelings that you can convey in your photography. Your viewer will be able to connect with your photographs more deeply because they will be able to relate to the feelings they evoke within themselves.
So if you are ever feeling stuck with your portraiture in Nature, go to a place that you think might inspire you and try to be still and connect with nature to get your creativity flowing. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and be aware of the sounds and smells in the air. It doesn’t have to be a place as grand as the mountains, or the beach. It can be a park bench, a stream, or a quiet spot in your yard…nature is all around us.
Shooting in nature can definitely present challenges. Over the years I have learned, through trial and error, that it helps to be prepared. There are soo many factors to take into consideration. Where is the sun in the sky and how will it affect my photographs? Is it hot, cold, rainy, windy and how do I need to dress appropriately? Am I going to be tramping through tall grass, the woods, a stream? Will there be lots of bugs? Am I going to start sweating? Will there be snakes (I’m pretty sure I am the most afraid person of snakes EVER!!!) I could go on and on! Being prepared to tackle some of these obstacles will set you up for success when shooting in Nature.
MY BEST PURCHASE!
Whenever I am taking photos in nature you can bet that I am wearing my trusty black rain boots. I bought them for $19 on Amazon and they are seriously one of the best purchases I have ever made for my photography. They are tall, thick, and I don’t care if they get ruined. They give me the confidence and security to go anywhere. Here in Virginia we have ticks and poisonous snakes and you can bet I am always keeping me eyes out for them when I am shooting.
With my trusty rain boots on I feel safe to walk through that tall grass, or through that stream, or into the woods to get that perfect shot at the perfect location. When I first started shooting I passed on so many locations because I just didn’t feel like I could get to them safely. Now I wear my boots almost every time I shoot outdoors…it has just become a habit.
So whatever you can do to prepare for the amazing challenge of taking photos in Nature the easier it will be to set yourself up for victory.
- Remember you are connected to Nature more than you realize!
- You can use Nature to enhance your storytelling – think the crunch of Fall leaves or picking those first few Spring flowers
- Special places in Nature – Think about a location in Nature that might resonate deeply with you. Maybe it’s your backyard or a quiet park bench
- Beach or Mountains? Consider locations that your viewer can identify with through their own experiences. This will invite them to feel more connected to your images.
- PREP PREP PREP!!! If it’s going to be hot bring water for yourself and others, if there are going to be bugs bring spray, if you are having your subjects sit on the ground bring them a blanket! I could go on but I think you get the message
So go grab your camera and go outside and start taking photos in Nature!!! And if you need some inspiration for taking photos this Spring check out my last blog post here!
P.S. I’m participating in a super fun blog circle with some of my photographers friends. Check out my friend Rosa who is a Central Coast Photographer and her post about the best beaches for photos along the central coast
Ruth Young is a professional, portrait photographer and photography educator located in Culpeper, Virginia. She photographs her daily life with her 5 small children and has a passion for teaching photography. For more about Ruth follow her on Instagram where she posts daily.