Spring is a fantastic time for photography. There are so many amazing subjects and opportunities: outdoor portraits, macro shots of blooming flowers and budding trees, and spring landscapes, to name just a few.
That said, if you’re a beginner, or if you’re just feeling a little uninspired, you may be struggling to come up with the kind of spring photography ideas that get you excited to head out with your camera. And that’s where this article comes in handy!
Below, I share 10 easy-to-follow image ideas – many of which can be tackled in your backyard or at a local park. And you don’t need sophisticated gear, either; you can capture most of these spring pictures with nothing but a cheap camera and some good light.
Ready to enjoy the beauty of spring? Then let’s dive right in!
1. Focus on the finer details
No matter what you photograph, capturing the details is always a good idea – and that’s especially true when creating springtime compositions.
And even if you prefer to photograph in cities or at festivals, I still recommend you look for detail shots.
In particular, aim to photograph:
- Bokeh: Bokeh and detail photos go well together, plus it’s easy to produce beautiful bokeh when shooting close up. Simply widen your lens’s aperture as far as it can go, push your lens to its maximum magnification, then adjust your composition to include colors and/or lights in the background. You can create nice bokeh with any lens, but the effect does work best with macro lenses or prime lenses with a large maximum aperture.
- Patterns: Nature is full of nice patterns, so use this to your advantage. Flowers can repeat, making for a very nice macro shot. Or you can photograph petal patterns on the ground (once the petals have fallen). At spring festivals, produce is often laid out in patterns, which is ideal for photography.
- Backgrounds: Photographers tend to focus on the main subject, but did you know that interesting backgrounds are an essential part of great photos? They’re not hard to create, either. Simply adjust your composition until you get a clean, beautiful background effect – using a wide aperture will help! – and snap away. If you’re not sure how to start, try shooting up at the sky on a clear day for a nice blue background, or aim down toward the grass for a green background.
- Lighting: The best photographers know how to use the light for all sorts of interesting effects, and you can do the same! In fact, a great spring photography idea is to choose a subject, then capture ten images that vary only in their lighting. For instance, if you’re shooting a flower, you can capture light shining through petals, sidelight dramatically illuminating the flower stem, backlight creating an interesting flare effect, and much more.
2. Explore the wider scene in your spring photography
When photographing spring beauties – such as flowers and plants – you may be tempted to get in close and stay there.
But while this will certainly get you some stunning shots, you can also capture beautiful photos by switching to a wide-angle lens and shooting the scene from afar. Flower beds, blossoming trees, and petal-strewn paths can make for some gorgeous landscape shots, after all!
By the way, if you’re looking to capture some beautiful spring compositions – especially if you want to include flowers – here are a few recommendations:
- Check the forecast: Here, I’m talking about both the weather forecast and the blossom forecast. The weather forecast will ensure you head out to shoot when the light is good, while the blossom forecast will get you shooting during the peak flower period.
- Composition is king: As with all landscape photography, good composition will get you the best results. Aim to balance your spring shots with compositional techniques such as symmetry, the rule of thirds, and the rule of odds. Also look to incorporate leading lines into your photos for a bit of extra dynamism.
- Add extra context: Remember how I encouraged you to use a wide-angle lens? Go as wide as you can and include some context. For instance, shoot a cherry tree alongside some local architecture, or capture a person walking through a field of petals.
3. Try freelensing
Freelensing is a creative technique that allows you to adjust your lens’s plane of focus without spending thousands on tilt-shift glass. You can produce all sorts of original results full of breathtaking blur effects.
Here’s how it works:
First, make sure your camera is turned off. Carefully detach your lens from your camera, then position it right in front of the lens mount. (You can hold your lens in your left hand while holding your camera with your right.)
Turn your camera back on, then look through the viewfinder. Slowly tilt the lens back and forth, observing how the area of the scene that’s in focus changes depending on the lens’s position.
When you’re ready to take a photo, just go ahead and press the shutter button!
Freelensing requires a lot of experimentation, and you’ll have a lot of failed photos – but the successes will make it worth it. A few approaches to try:
- Bring the lens closer and farther from the lens mount for different levels of magnification
- Change focal lengths (though 50mm is a good starting point)
- Deliberately leave some room between the camera and the lens to allow for light leaks
Note that you can use freelensing to capture creative shots of many different subjects. Many freelensers focus on flowers and plants – always a good spring photo subject, as I mentioned above – but you can also capture interesting portraits, landscapes, and more!
One caveat: Freelensing will expose your camera’s sensor to the outside world, and it increases the chance that you’ll drop your camera or lens. I’d recommend working with a backup camera and a cheap lens, if possible!
4. Take some portrait photos
Spring is an amazing time for portrait photography. You can find some amazing nature backdrops, plus you can incorporate fun flower themes into your spring photoshoots.
Here are a few easy spring photoshoot ideas:
- Combine the subjects with the trees: Clients love portraits that include beautiful, natural backgrounds. Position your subject(s) in front of trees or flowers, then use a large aperture to blur out the background. Lines of trees can add depth to a photo, while flowers will create stunning spots of backdrop color. For a nice touch, ask your model to hold a flower or two.
- Do candid spring photography: As the weather warms up and people start to get out and enjoy park life, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to photograph individuals enjoying spring. You can capture people walking through flowery fields, people hiking through forests, people enjoying a picnic on the grass, and so much more.
- Grab a selfie: It might not be the most original spring photo idea out there, but everyone needs a new profile picture for spring. So the next time you get the chance, capture a selfie (and make sure that you include a flower or two in the frame!).
5. Get experimental
Spring photography is a broad subject, but if you spend a bit of time browsing Instagram, you’ll see that most spring photos are often, well, the same.
Want to shake things up a bit? Break out those experimental techniques, such as intentional camera movement, image compositing, and more. Here are just a few of my favorite ways to get creative during spring:
- Try light trails: Spring foliage often grows by the side of the road. Take a walk at night, bring a tripod, and shoot some car light trail photos. Be sure to include some spring blossoms for context!
- Take a refraction shot: If you haven’t tried crystal ball photography, then you’re missing out! Crystal balls are inexpensive, plus they can create astonishing effects (see the shot below!).
- Deliberately photograph motion blur: Who says blur has to be bad? Head out on a windy day, set your camera on a tripod, and use a slow shutter speed. If you can capture plants and flowers in mid-move, you’ll create some beautifully abstract results!
6. Don’t forget about spring festivals
Most of my spring picture ideas involve flowers and plants – but there are plenty of great shots to capture at spring festivals and religious holidays, too.
Head out with your camera and a couple of lenses (I recommend a fast prime and a wide-angle zoom). Have fun shooting subjects from a distance (so as to capture the ambiance of the entire event). Then get up close for some candid street shots.
Try to tell a story with your photos. What is happening at the event? What is it about? How do people engage?
Aim to leave with a little mini-series that tells the story of the festival!
7. Capture silhouettes
Spring comes with longer evenings, which means that you have more time to photograph in good light (even if you work long hours during the week!). So why not celebrate the extra spring sun with a fun silhouette photoshoot?
Find a willing subject, then pick a location that includes plenty of open space. You want to make sure that you can compose so that your subject is isolated against the sky; having natural points of elevation (such as boulders) can be a huge help.
Wait until late in the day – when the sun is low in the sky – and position yourself so that the sun is coming from behind your subject. You don’t need to keep the sun in the frame, but ensure that the area behind your subject is extremely bright.
Next, point your lens at the brightest portion of the sky, then use it to set your exposure. The goal is to expose properly for the sky while your subject is dramatically underexposed. It can be helpful to capture a couple of test shots as you refine your exposure (you can always use exposure compensation to brighten or darken the file, or you can switch to Manual mode and adjust your shutter speed).
Finally, set up a careful composition. As I mentioned above, you’ll want an uncluttered backdrop, which is often easy to achieve by getting low to the ground or directing your subject to stand on something, like a rock or a low wall.
And take your shot! If all goes well, you’ll end up with an amazing result, though I’d encourage you to do a bit of post-processing later to bring out the colors of the sky and ensure your subject is plenty dark.
8. Look for wildlife
Spring is full of life, and that includes migrating birds, baby mammals, and more! Spend some time out in your local park or nature preserve, and you’re bound to find an animal or two to photograph. Even if you’re not generally into wildlife photography, spring is a great time to get started; see if you can find an area with relatively tame animals, such as a park with lots of regular walkers.
For the best results, you’ll want to use a telephoto lens. A 55-200mm kit lens is generally long enough for large, tame wildlife (such as geese), though 300mm, 400mm, and beyond is best if you want to capture small songbirds and distant mammals.
That said, you can get great shots by going wider and creating more environmental compositions that include both the animal and the surrounding habitat, so don’t feel like a telephoto lens is absolutely necessary.
One quick wildlife photography tip: Patience is often rewarded. Don’t simply walk by a subject, take a few snaps, and continue on your way; instead, if you have the time, wait with your lens trained on the animal until it strikes an interesting pose. This can be tough, especially since there’s never a guarantee that something will happen, but when you do get lucky, the results are often spectacular.
9. Photograph street scenes in the rain
Spring is famous for its rainy days, but instead of staying inside, I encourage you to take advantage of the warmer temperatures and head outside with your camera. Go to the nearest city or town, and see if you can capture some moody, rain-soaked street shots.
Here, a 35mm or a 50mm prime lens is often best, though if all you have is a standard kit lens, that’s okay, too. Look for interesting moments and interactions between people, and make sure you pay careful attention to the overall framing of your scenes. It’s easy to lose track of all the elements in your street compositions, but it’s important that you keep everything well organized even when the world looks chaotic!
If you’re up for a challenge, you might even try heading out at twilight. You’ll need a lens with a wide maximum aperture, but if you’re willing to put in the work, you can capture shots that combine umbrellas, wet reflections, and bokeh!
10. Have some indoor still-life fun
In some parts of the world, spring – especially early spring – doesn’t look much different from winter. If that’s your experience, see if you can recreate that spring feeling indoors by capturing still-life shots that feature fruit and/or flowers!
Simply head to the store and pick up some pears, apples, cherries, or any other subject you find appealing. Cut flower bouquets can also look great, especially when combined with colorful vases.
Then set up a small studio area in your basement, paying careful attention to the backdrop and the surface you use to display your subjects. If you own flashes or strobes, you can experiment with different lighting setups, but if you’d prefer to use natural light, that’s okay, too! Just position your still-life setup by a window (some form of side light is generally ideal here).
Finally, make sure you spend plenty of time adjusting your compositional elements. In still-life photography, even a slight change in the subject’s position can dramatically alter the feel of the photo, so the more you can test out different arrangements, the better!
Spring photography ideas: final words
Do you feel ready to capture some stunning spring pictures? I hope so!
So take a few of these spring photoshoot ideas and have fun! Head out with your camera! Capture some spring photos! And enjoy the warm(ish) weather!
Now over to you:
What spring photoshoots do you plan to do? What do you plan to photograph? Share your thoughts in the comments below!