It seems like the idea of taking picture outside of our comfort nest AND potentially in front of a stranger is unthinkable for many. To be honest, I am not any braver or more confident then you, but Norway made me do it! The winter time here is so gloomy and dark that the only way to keep doing what I love, taking photographs, means finding my way around the nature. I don’t think I am all that creative compared to other people I know, but I am pretty sure I am really good in finding solutions and different angles, as well as quite stubborn. Preparation and passion are the keys, you see, take photographs like no-one is watching kind of thing 🙂 And good news is that winter is a great excuse to start shooting out, because, no light, and by summer you will be a total pro with no doubts and struggles and so ready for the most juicy, flowery, happy pictures! Ready?
And as the community is always the best part of all my photography adventures, I created a hashtag for all of us to use for all the winter experiments! So if you feel like it and want support and all the lovely people to see your pride, use #winterwonderlens for all the winter outdoor loveliness! Can’t wait to see your creations but now lets get to work, shall we?
Preparation is everything!
Since you are shooting outside and if you work full time like me, you might have just a half an hour or hour after work during the week days to shoot and maybe not even any close to your home, think about every photo adventure as a little trip. During the weekend it is all a bit easier since we have more time, but still, you have to be prepared and take everything with you. Also, if you are shy introvert like me, you also will probably want to do it quick and run! On the top of that, freezing! You don’t want to be standing there in the middle of the field not knowing what do to, do you?
I have a journal which I carry with me everywhere as well as note app on the phone, so any time I get an idea for a photo, I write and draw it down. The same comes to the photography props. If there is something you need to get or make for the photo, prepare it ahead. Think about locations and places you want to take the pictures at, think about the outfits, everything. I often draw my ideas as a little square in my journal so I know how I want it to look like at the end. Sometimes I know only a detail I want to capture, like hands holding something, sometimes I have the whole composition but sometimes it just comes out from the environment. Either way, more you will have decided, better! I often bring things with me just in case, so I have options or I am prepared for all the situations (for example when I knew I will dip my feet in the snow, I brought tiny towel to dry them out and plastic bag to put the wet towel away).
Crazy, well, it is a sort of like a trip into the wild really, so be prepared 🙂 Also, don’t leave your home hungry and dress properly and comfortably, warm belly and clothes will keep you going and you will have less excuses less to run back home!
Now let’s talk about getting actually out there
As I listen to what you say, most of you have amazing ideas, you have props, you have some time. But the idea of getting out there and taking pictures in front of others is just freaking you out. So don’t! Instead of being afraid of people looking at you weird, easily find a place where there is no-one to look weird at you. And definitely don’t try to overcomplicated it for the first time. Baby steps, that is what I try to preach and practise and it just works. Trying to compose masterpiece styled picture if you have never even took your camera for a walk might be too much to start with. Because if you have never taken any pictures outside in public, let me tell you, just carrying your camera on your neck will feel stupid (been there). So maybe try to give yourself a week challenge and go one baby step further every day. Here is how it goes:
Day 1: On the way home from work, try to look outside from the window instead of your phone (I know you do, well, I do) and try to notice interesting places you could take your camera to with you. The whole world is your stage so it can be anything, pretty wall, nice stairs, park or just a tree you like.
Day 2: Get of the bus from work one stop too early or park your car a bit further then usual. Walk home on the empty street and snap something, anything, even on your phone is good enough. Just to get a hold of it.
Day 3: Try to take your camera in your purse. I carry my baby everywhere all the time, just in case. Once you get used to it, you will have it always handy and it will be easier to find time and way to take lovely winter shots.
Day 4: Repeat day two, but try to take some pictures with your camera. I personally still don’t like to take pictures among people because I am afraid they will scream at me or something, so I just don’t do that. Take a picture of pretty leaves, frozen branches or nice doors. They won’t complain 😉
Day 5: Let’s assume you have a free weekend. So today is time to put your big girls trousers on and plan your winter shoot for weekend. Think about one picture you would like to take. Scene, mood, atmosphere, colours, whatever is important for you. Prepare props if you need any, think about place you will go (remember that nice little park you saw on the way from work?)
Day 6: It is here! Go out and try! You can do it. Have fun and don’t think about it too much, you are just learning and trying!
Day 7: Enjoy the result with a warm cuppa and feet up!
Things I do to make sure it will all turn out well
If you are ready to go out there, keep these in mind as they will make your life easier:
Battery is freezing too. Camera battery lasts much shorter in the cold weather, be sure it is charged 100% or have extra or portable charger. Someone recommended me yesterday, in case of crisis, put your battery or phone into your bra for a while, it will get heat up and work again 😀 You can also buy those reusable heating pads and have them in your camera bag.
Take too many pictures. That is a general rule for all the pictures you might not be able to retake again – you can always delete them but you don’t want to find out they are all blurry or the angle is a bit wrong on every single picture. Also, take them from different angles, often you can then post more then one out of the photoshoot.
Shoot in the square format. I do that and it makes my life so much easier, life changing really! Most of the cameras and phones allow you to set the screen to 1:1 format so you know how it will look for your Instagram shoot. If you don’t have the option, use post-it paper or tape and cover part of your screen. This was really life changing for me since there is nothing more annoying then to find out you can’t crop your picture into the square because you would miss important part.
Try different settings. I shoot on manual setting and often try different settings to have different results. The tiny camera screen can be sometimes confusing and picture might be in reality too dark or light. And since I am not so fond of after editing, I make sure there is some I like almost as is.
Look around and find your props in the nature. I always try to simplify everything as i find it silly to spend too much money on props as I don’t make any out of it. Often you can just use nature, maybe just pick pretty leaves on the round and arrange them nicely or use a branch to write a message in the snow. There is so much out there, promise, and after a while you will train your eye to see things and possibilities everywhere!
Have fun! This is the most important one. If it stresses you out to take pictures outside, don’t do it. You will find another way and I will share another tips next time. It should always be fun and even though I am often a bit “scared”, most of the times I am just laughing at myself and have a really good time!
But what if it doesn’t work out?
I find that since I already went extra mile to take a picture outside, I usually make it work or I kick my perfectionism in the butt and get happy with the result over time. But what if it just doesn’t? As I mentioned, I am pretty stubborn, so if I have time, I try to rethink the original idea and find another place, angle. But once it stops being fun and starts to be more of a hustle and struggle, I usually give up. There is no shame in giving up, otherwise, the most successful people often give up to save time and energy for the next thing. Don’t be discouraged if the pictures don’t turn out as you wanted at first.
Get home, make a warm cuppa and try to look at them and learn. What could you do different? Why doesn’t it work out? Was it wrong idea what so ever? Or maybe wrong time of the day, bad light, too little or too much? There can be million reasons and sometimes the idea can stick with you and you will try next time. It is also about being honest to your skills because we are not all professionals and sometimes it is all about that. I have tons of photos in my head which I would love to take one day but for now, I don’t have a photography skill enough to do that. So I don’t even try, why torturing myself 🙂
They say that it takes 10 000 hours to become master in something and with photography maybe even more, since the subject and environment changes with every next photograph. I see every shot as a little adventure, tiny trip to capture what I see and what I want others to see. And if it is shit most of the times, so what? I was out on the fresh air, I tried and possible did more than all those others sitting on the sofa blabbering about inconvenient weather. And on the top of that, the idea of what is beautiful or creative is so individual, that as long as you have fun, it was always worth it.