Spring is officially here, folks!
This is one of my favorite times of year, especially for photography.
So much comes back to life that makes for gorgeous, detail-rich photos.
That includes portraits!
With that in mind, I’ve put together a collection of 14 beautiful springtime portraits that will help inspire your creativity this spring season.
Each portrait is a prime example of how you can use the unique attributes of springtime to your advantage.
Have a look, learn a few tricks, and get ready for some awesome spring photography!
Focus on Action
Springtime is filled with tons of action in the natural world, so why not mimic that with what’s happening in the portrait you create?
Using activities to loosen up a portrait subject isn’t a new trick, to be sure. But aside from summer, there’s really no better time to incorporate action into your portraits than spring.
Looking at the image above, you get a sense of the sheer joy of the moment that the grandfather and his grandson are having.
The documentary style portrait has a sense of genuineness, as though we’re silently watching this moment unfold. This level of engagement wouldn’t have been possible if this was a more formal portrait, say, with the two sitting in the grass looking directly at the camera.
Using action in springtime portraits also helps you capture the essence of the season: it’s a time to explore after a long winter and enjoy the longer days and more sunshine.
Again, in the image above, we see how the act of the children running helps create a much more dynamic shot - the act of running toward the camera gives the photo a nice sense of movement.
What’s more, springtime is a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the additional hours of sunlight.
Here, the setting sun adds a warmth to the photo that’s indicative of spring, and the long shadows it casts adds depth to the image.
Mind the Hands
If you ask any portrait photographer what the hardest thing about portraiture is, a lot of them will say that it’s helping clients figure out what to do with their hands.
Hands can get awkward really fast because most of us have no idea what to do with them when we’re being photographed.
However, giving your subjects something to hold (and, as noted above, something to do) will help avoid the awkward hands in favor of a more relaxed portrait.
In the sample above, simply giving the kids some bubbles helps create a much more compelling shot. Their positioning is relaxed, and their expressions are perfectly candid.
What’s more, the shot gives us a full view of the greenery around the kids. Incorporating natural elements into the frame helps amplify the springtime theme.
Of course, implementing a prop isn’t always in the cards.
For example, if the scene already has a lot of color or texture, like the one shown above, incorporating a prop will only muddy the composition.
Instead, don’t be afraid to go the simple route and have the subject cross their arms, put their hands in their pockets, or even reach their arms outward.
In the image above, we see how this idea is implemented to perfection - the model looks relaxed, her hands and arms aren’t distracting, and the foliage and flowers around her add gorgeous depth and a springtime feel to the shot.
Find Alternative Points of View
When I think of spring, I think of two things: color and fun.
As noted above, incorporating springtime colors into your portraits helps elevate the shot and give viewers a greater sense of the rebirth the world undertakes once spring arrives.
Regarding fun, we’ve seen how having the subjects engage in an activity can lead to a more compelling portrait.
But there’s another way that you can have a little fun too…
By using unexpected camera angles to shoot your portraits, you immediately create something that has a greater ability to catch the viewer’s eye.
In the portrait above, you can see how the top-down view makes one think of laying in the grass on a warm spring day. To further the fun theme, the subject’s hair adds a bit of whimsy that makes the shot that much more interesting to view.
Using this top-down view doesn’t have to be so extreme, either.
In this example, we see how taking a high perspective allowed the photographer to elongate the model’s body.
What’s more, by taking this point of view, the photographer was able to incorporate the beautiful blue flowers into the shot. The flowers help to frame the subject nicely, while the blurriness of the flowers in the foreground gives the photo greater dimension when compared to the sharpness of focus on the model’s face.
Spring is the ideal time to utilize a low shooting perspective as well.
Like the previous image, this one makes use of foreground interest - the flowers - to create that springtime vibe in the shot while also improving the depth of the image.
The soft, warm light of the setting sun is a perfect match for this shot, too - with the foreground interest and the action of the model throwing the flower petals in the air, the scene is perfect for backlighting for a gently silhouetted shot.
Try a Faceless Portrait
With so much going on in a springtime landscape - the colors, textures, and shapes, for example - you can get away with using your portrait subject in a support role rather than a primary role.
An interesting way to do that is to create a faceless portrait like the one seen above.
Though it might seem counterintuitive to create a faceless portrait, as you can see in the image above, just because you don’t see the person’s face doesn’t mean that you can’t still connect with them in a very real way.
In fact, faceless portraits can almost seem more intimate because it’s as though we see the scene without the subject knowing it.
I know...it’s a bit voyeuristic, but the simplicity of a faceless portrait can be quite powerful, so long as there are details in the shot (like the large tree) that help retain the viewer’s interest.
Faceless portraits are also an opportunity to highlight the relationship the subject has with the environment or with another person.
In the image above, the manner in which the daughter is leading her mother along creates a sweet dynamic that makes you think of your own children or younger siblings.
But note how the way the image was framed helps put the beauty of this relationship on display in the context of the springtime environment - the field of dandelions adds excellent texture to the foreground while the distant trees help to define the background space.
Again, we see how springtime is ideal for backlit portraits as well, with the glow of the sun adding warmth to the shot while also highlighting the white, puffy dandelions.
Typical Portraits are Okay Too
Though many of the examples in this article are of people being active and enjoying themselves outside, that doesn’t mean that a more typical portrait doesn’t have its place in springtime.
Looking at the example above, we see how the model’s wardrobe helps continue a springtime theme.
The length of the dress is indicative of warmer weather, while the fun and colorful print also harkens to the time of the season. Notice as well how her arm placement enhances the relaxed feel of the shot.
For another take on a typical portrait, you don’t have to use in-your-face colors to create something that has a vibrancy that’s similar to springtime.
Here, cool colors are used, yet their intensity is reminiscent of the intense colors of spring.
What’s more, the wardrobe selection, especially the cut-off shorts, gives this image a distinct springtime vibe.
The lesson here is that it’s not just the model’s pose or surroundings that can be used to create a springtime portrait - the wardrobe selection can go a long way in doing so too.
Make Beauty Out of the Mundane
Though we often tell people to look at the camera and smile, the result is usually that at least one person in the shot (and often many more) look as though they’re forcing a smile.
What’s more, a posed portrait doesn’t always give you the best opportunity to create beauty out of an everyday scene.
For example, the family portrait above goes a long way in showing the mood and emotion of the moment, as well as the relationship between each person in the shot.
The casual, laid-back nature of the image adds a feeling of genuineness that wouldn’t be as possible had the shot been formally posed.
Just imagine this scene if everyone was seated around the table, looking directly down the barrel of the lens. It wouldn’t be nearly as dynamic as the photo above, agreed?
Use Weather to Your Advantage
Depending on where you live, springtime may very well be marked by a ton of rain and lots of gray, overcast days.
But instead of writing those days off as not being good for portraiture, head out with your camera and make a concerted effort to use those kinds of conditions to your advantage.
For starters, gray, overcast days are wonderful for portraits because the clouds act like a giant softbox. With such even lighting, there’s no harsh shadowing to interfere with your portrait.
Beyond that, as seen in the image above, if it’s raining, use wet surfaces to add interest to your portraits, like the reflection of the kids playing in the rain.
Again, we see the value of taking a normal, everyday scene and elevating it with framing, color, and action.
Always Be At the Ready
The last tip I want to share is an old tried-and-true photography tip:
Always have your camera at the ready.
Spring is an unpredictable season that can offer up sunshine one minute and a gorgeous thunderstorm the next.
And because of that, you have to always be at the ready to take a shot because portrait subjects are just as unpredictable as the weather.
Where the photo above might have been intended to be a sweet portrait of a little girl enjoying her ice cream cone in the warmth of a spring day, what turned out to be the best shot of the sequence was the little girl sharing her treat with her dog.
Had the photographer not been ready to shoot, they would have missed the sweetest moment of the day.
That’s the real lesson when creating springtime portraits. No matter how much you prepare, plan your shot, concentrate on framing and perspective, using color and textures, and so forth, when things go sideways a bit, being ready to capitalize on unexpected moments is what will likely help you create the best springtime portraits.