A couple weeks ago, we published a post with winter photography ideas. That post included 20 examples for inspiration, but really, winter is beautiful enough for more photos than that! For a rush of cold-weather inspiration, check out these 60 beautiful winter pictures, organized into 4 categories:
You can jump down to the section that interests you the most, or browse them all to see the full beauty of winter!
Great Subjects for Winter Pictures
The most distinctive winter landscape photos often have snow. That’s partly because snow helps create simplicity in a photo. It covers everything with a smooth layer of white, so that clear lines and colorful subjects stand out more.
If your winter is snowless, you can get a similar effect by photographing a misty or frosty landscape. Both mist and frost can help eliminate distractions, as well as give a landscape a magical atmosphere.
Hills / Mountains
Winter is when mountains look the most rugged. Blanketed in snow, they can seem cold and threatening with their cliffs and edges standing out against the snow. While this harshness can make a stunning photo by itself, you can also try contrasting the sharp mountains against more peaceful subjects, like puffy clouds or a colorful sunrise. Then, the beauty will have two sides, soft and rugged.
Trees and Forests
A layer of snow can transform the appearance of a forest, making the trees stand out in the snow. This sight is unique to winter; you can’t get quite the same bleak and beautiful view of a forest during the rest of the year. You might need snowshoes, skies, or waterproof boots to get into the forest, but once you’re there, it’s a wonderland.
If you live in an area with little to no snow, you can capture striking winter photos around bodies of water, particularly when there’s mist or fog. But even if there isn’t, you can photograph a winter sunrise, night sky, or line of bare trees reflected in the water.
One challenge of snowy landscapes is finding a point of interest to compose the photo around. Isolated buildings can be a great solution to this problem. Especially when they’re colorful or lit-up at night, they add life and energy to a winter landscape, making a beautiful image.
Winter can easily come across as melancholy. You can either lean into this melancholy by creating moody scenes or subvert it by photographing lively subjects like animals. Since winter scenery tends to have a neutral palette of black, white, and gray, many animals will naturally stand out, giving the scene more life and beauty.
Pets like dogs and cats are a perfect first choice for winter photos of animals, since you don’t have to track them down. Some even love to be photographed. You can go out with your dog in the snow and snap goofy and joyful photos, or you photograph your cat by a frost-covered window. Either way, having a pet will give you plenty of opportunities to get nice winter shots.
Like pets, birds are typically easy to find in winter. You just need bird seed and a lens that allows you to take good photos from a distance. Or you can photograph birds that aren’t afraid of humans, like city pigeons, seagulls, or ducks in a park.
Wild animals take a lot of patience to photograph, particularly in freezing weather, but the thrill of finally getting an awesome shot can make the wait worthwhile. Besides, unlike photos of birds or pets, there’s a chance you’re shooting a photo unlike any other. After all, not every photographer is willing to go out in the wilderness to find animals in the snow.
A winter storm can bring chaos to a city, but also a lot of amazing photos. Fresh snow on city streets and buildings can bring a sense of strangeness and wild beauty to civilization, showing the power of nature in the middle of humanity. But even when there’s no snow, only fog and gloom, you can get wonderful, interesting images of winter in the city.
Skyscrapers are nice subjects in winter because they stand out even when there’s thick fog or a blizzard. They also create an eye-catching skyline that’s beautiful to photograph, even when everything else is gloomy.
Because the sun sets early in winter, you have more time to photograph city lights, from glowing bridges and traffic lights to street lamps and lit-up windows. For tips on photographing lights in the city, check out this inspirational post about city light photography.
City Streets and Plazas
Cities can be tricky to photograph sometimes because there’s so much happening in a scene. One way to create a sense of order and clarity in your photos is to shoot a clear line or pattern, like a straight street or row of windows.
In winter, composing your photos around streets and open areas like plazas can be particularly effective when the sun is hanging low, throwing soft light over the buildings and streets. Even on an overcast day, though, you can capture an eye-catching photo just by paying attention to the patterns of urban streets and architecture.
Spring, summer, and fall are all popular seasons for portraiture because there’s so much obvious beauty in nature. But in fact, some photographers prefer taking portraits in winter because the neutral colors and soft natural lighting can make the model look more striking.
Besides, there’s snow, and snowy portraits can look stunning. In addition to the photos below, be sure to look at these beautiful snow portraits by Elizabeth Sallee Bauer for more winter inspiration and tips!
The advantage of taking posed portraits is that you have more control over the shooting conditions. For example, you can choose the background or wait for the right snowy weather. You can also minimize unattractive features like red, runny noses from winter colds. This control can help ensure that you get beautiful portraits, even in the dreariest part of winter.
Though less “perfect” than posed portraits, candid portraiture allows you to capture the true feeling of winter, from spirited snowball fights to gloomy walks down city streets. For more inspiring candid portraits, look at these 40 splendid examples of candid photography.
Street photography is a specific kind of candid photography that focuses on strangers, typically in an urban environment. Unlike lifestyle photography (another type of candid portraiture), street shots don’t often focus on the identity or character of the people being photographed. Instead, they tend to tell stories or portray the environment, using people as the focal point in the composition.
Winter is a great time to explore street photography because of the soft natural lighting from overcast skies. You can also play with shadows and silhouettes after the sun sets, or find colorful subjects to contrast the grayness of everything. Sidewalks tend to be less crowded in winter, too, so you have more space to move around and compose your photos.
Many of the above photos were selected from our creative Flickr group. Next time you take a lovely winter picture, post it in the group so we can admire your work!