5 Ideas for Setting a Winter Photography Challenge

Stuck for inspiration this winter? Giles Babbidge suggests five photography projects to get the creative juices flowing


If you need some photographic inspiration, take these projects as a starting point and make them your own, based on what you enjoy photographing. Keeping yourself interested and inspired will enable you to take the best, most rewarding pictures you possibly can.



1. Try a new technique


5 Ideas for Setting a Winter Photography Challenge


Is there a technique which you’ve been meaning to try out, but haven’t managed to get around to? Winter is a great time to brush up on the ‘how-to’ side of things, especially if it’s something that can be done in or around your own home.

For example, maybe you want to experiment with off-camera lighting techniques. There are so many ways to do this, from setting up portraits in your garden to arranging still life compositions in your living room.

Also, why not spend a few minutes refreshing yourself about your camera’s functions? We all tend to ignore our instruction manuals once we’re up and running, but doing so can mean missing out on some great features which will make a real difference to your picture-taking.



2. Make the most of muted colour


5 Ideas for Setting a Winter Photography Challenge


While we can be treated to some truly stunning light in winter, a great deal of the time it can be anything but inspirational. This can play to our advantage, though; make the effort to head out on dull days and you will be treated to gentle hues and tones which blend into one another – perfect for evocative images.

Subtlety is key when cloud cover acts like a giant diffuser, or rain, mist and fog reduce contrast. I like to concentrate on using natural light only, leaving my flash guns in the bag.

I’ll vary my lens choice from one with macro capabilities (for close up shots of nature’s textures, for example) all the way up to a telephoto to use for capturing shadowless landscapes from afar. Gentle tones can also lend themselves well to the black & white treatment, too.



3. One day, one subject


5 Ideas for Setting a Winter Photography Challenge


You’ve probably heard of ‘365’ projects, where the challenge is to take a picture every day of the year. This is a great way to push the boundaries of creativity and to force yourself to really think about the pictures you want to take.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t apply this approach on a smaller scale, adjusted to your own winter-specific theme.

How about focusing on a single subject each day, such as ‘cold’ or ‘frost’? Maybe you could commit to taking a picture every hour over a weekend? The possibilities are endless.



4. See the sights


5 Ideas for Setting a Winter Photography Challenge


If the great outdoors is not your thing, you could concentrate on photographing areas closer to home. Towns and cities offer lots of potential in the winter months.

There are plenty of opportunities for setting a theme and taking on all manner of subjects from long-lens candid portraits to architectural studies.

Outside of the festive period, industrial or urban areas continue to lend themselves as ideal subjects. Consider, for example, isolated silhouettes and vast cityscapes shot from either high above street level or looking up.

Familiarity can sometimes hinder the creative process. So if you know an area well, why not set yourself the task of capturing the same scenes in a variety of wintry conditions, embracing everything from snow, rain and hail to the glorious, golden light of late-afternoon? Consider a change of lens, technique or simply camera position to what you would typically use. The picture above was captured simply on my phone when the bold silhouette of foliage caught my eye.



5. Copy what you like


5 Ideas for Setting a Winter Photography Challenge


If you’re really stuck for ideas, a great way to get the ball rolling is to create your own version of a picture you like. This could be a portrait, a landscape, even a take on a theme – so long as it motivates you to get that camera out!

When I’m looking for ideas, my starting point is always a combination of Google Images and books – both in my own collection and in my local library.

The shelves of your local newsagent can also be a goldmine of inspiration. As well as looking at magazines covering your main interests, be sure to keep an open mind and look out for subjects that might shake things up a bit.


About the Author

Giles Babbidge is a commercial and editorial photographer based in Hampshire. He travels all around the UK and works with a wide range of clients – you can find out more about his day-to-day activities over at his website.


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