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November 1, 2020

Embracing the winter light

I love a moody shot as much as the next person, but when you are known for light filled images full of colour and abundant florals then winter can be challenging. It’s something I’ve been asked about over the last couple of weeks so I thought I’d share a few tips on how to cope when the clocks go back and grey, drizzly winter days stretch ahead.

Plan your shoot

Shorter days needn’t be a barrier to enjoying your photography. Knowing that there is less daylight to play with means a little planning is required. As a still life photographer I like to have my winter props sorted out and ready to go. The candles, the fairy lights, cloths and ribbons are all organised in one place so I’m not spending time rummaging around looking for them when the right light and mood strikes. Having a running theme of props for the season brings continuity to your social media posts and you don’t need a vast number of them to create scale and composition. Some of my favourites are seasonal fruits, gourds and pumpkins. Some vintage french pots and earthy toned ceramics

Try experimenting with a new look

The winter could be an opportunity to experiment with a new style and a different colour palette. This isn’t my usual kind of shot, but Autumn and Winter is a wonderful time for gathering leaves and berries, rich in colour. Trying out some new angles and corners and studying how the light has changed with the new season. A favourite place to photograph in the summer months could look completely different in winter.


Embrace the gloom

I’m a huge fan of moody winter light, but when photographing flowers, it can all look rather flat and soulless without some drama and depth. You need shadow as well as light. This is where candles can help create a feeling of comfort, warmth and cosiness. Creating an atmosphere that people respond to is so important for a scroll stopping image and I’m a huge fan of a bit of glimmer with a string of fairy lights or candles. When laid next to glass or a shiny surface you pick up the extra reflections too. Extra sparkle can only be a good during the winter.

Move closer to your natural light source

Natural light can be very dramatic in winter. The sky is often overcast creating a lovely, diffused cool yet bright light. Experiment with placing your subject closer to the light source and even on the window sill. Don’t let rain put you off either (unless you are outside)! This is so much easier to deal with than harsh sunlight.

Use a reflector and a tripod

I have a pop up reflector and it’s a must have when photographing florals in the winter. Experiment with how and where to angle it, but generally place it so the the light source reflects off it and back on to your subject. I prefer to shoot handheld, but in winter when the light levels are lower the tripod is helpful. Keep an eye on your shutter speed and if your ISO and aperture options don’t work then you need to use a tripod. Besides, this gives you an extra hand to hold the reflector and concentrate on your composition!

Channel your inner Dutch Master

It’s a popular look and the winter is the perfect time to experiment with a painterly style. With shorter days and the sun lower in the sky, take advantage of lower light levels to create a still life Dutch Masters style.  I love to add an unexpected pop of colour to lift the mood. I wouldn’t use a reflector for this look. You want to keep the image sharp and clear and just use the little light you do have. I edit in Lightroom just for cropping, sharpening and raising the contrast a little. Editing apps such as VSCO and A Color Story are great for emphasising the sultry mood with different filters.

I hope this has given you a few ideas to help with your winter photography and content designs. Most of all have fun with it. Let me know if you have any questions about this post.

Janne x



Photography and styling tips

  1. Thank you for posting these photography styling tips on your blog Janne
    Really inspiring and helpful …
    I am keen to raise my game in floral photography this winter .
    Another project for lockdown !
    Hopefully we can catch up again soon
    Heidi xx

    • Janne Ford says:

      Hi Heidi, so glad you found the post helpful. It can be challenging shooting in winter and inspiration can be lacking. Enjoy practising over the next month x

  2. Claire Bowen says:

    Thank you so much for these tips, Janne. So kind and generous of you to share them. I’m going to put these into practice very soon. Claire xx

  3. Brilliant Janne 🙂
    I hadn’t thought about candles or a tripod but it makes sense now…off I go !
    Thankyou for this advice it’s a true gift x

    • Janne Ford says:

      Hi Louise, Thank you for reading and glad you found it useful. Candlelight always makes everything seem better and really enhances the colours too. Janne x

  4. Samantha says:

    Love your work and want to be notified of future blogs

  5. […] I wrote a blog post on embracing the challenges of winter light last year which you can read here  […]

  6. […] I do hope your Christmas is merry and bright and filled with all the lovely things that make your heart sing. If like me you plan to set aside some time for photography then you can read my tips on embracing winter light here. […]

  7. […] The delight of those first green spears pushing through the frozen earth is pure delight though and I will be the first in line to buy a bunch of English grown narcissi or tulips. I have written previously about shooting in winter light and you can read my tips here […]

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