Ah, spring, a season filled with rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, and the resurrection of sneezing and itchy eyes. Spring photography hasn’t always been my thing. Fall and winter have always been my favorite times to be out with my camera. Those are the seasons when I jump out of bed effortlessly, and it isn’t because of the later sunrise time. I’ve always enjoyed the dampening quiet from a blanket of snow and calming trance while watching leaves twirling in the breeze toward the ground.
Although, with each passing year, my attraction to spring photography grows. Spring is loud and commands attention. Birdsong fills each morning. It is a time of rapid change and growth. One minute it’s a bud, and then magically, that bud opens in what feels like an instant. Every time you turn your head, something is sprouting, blooming, and settling on its new shade of green for the season.
Since returning to the East Coast of the United States, I realized the incredible punch of greens delivered to this area by Mother Nature. There’s no denying that we absorb that energy and sense of renewal from nature. Those spring greens and bright floral blooms put a pep in anyone’s step, sometimes even a jump if the sneeze is strong enough.
At the same time, there is this underlying tone of fragility and finiteness. A sudden cold snap or late frost can wreak havoc. When the weather forecasts a cold snap, naturalists jump into action to try and protect the young buds from being damaged before their time to blossom. We know they are fragile in their infant state and need our help to thrive. In terms of finiteness, we have festivals around the world to celebrate the beauty of cherry blossoms so we don’t miss the delicate and fleeting nature of their existence. I can’t help but think that buried deep inside our subconscious, we feel this existential connection to our own mortality. Our lives too are so brief, especially when compared to the universe’s timeline. Whether we realize it or not, we inherently sense that spring is a fleeting and remarkable time in the world.
In early spring, I tend to shy away from the grand landscape photography scenes. In the northeast, it’s still a lot of sticks and mud until late spring. Therefore, I delay visiting those grand landscape locations until the lush greens have started to cover the landscape. Instead, I try to turn my wide-angle lens toward big bloom areas and smaller floral scenes. This could be bluebell forests, poppy fields, cherry blossom festivals, or almond orchards.
Catching those places with beautiful golden light is pure magic, but again, it’s fleeting. There is such a small window to find a location blooming under beautiful light to photograph a wide-angle scene. No wonder those photographs captivate our attention. It doesn’t simply awe, but it encapsulates a metaphysical longing where we have witnessed a sort of heaven on earth. These conditions can have a story-book perfection to them.
When we create and view spring photography images, it’s a temporary reprieve from our normal lives. Typically, that reprieve of bright floral colors and vibrant greens provides a boost of happiness. And similar to how spring feels to be gone in a blink of an eye, we share that joy and then are plunged back into the reality of our human existence filled with the weight of school, work, deadlines, chores, and errands – yay, adulting responsibilities. Yet, for that moment, the photo or act of photographing gives us a dose of renewal, growth, and hope.
At the end of the winter season, when I’m feeling the most disengaged and unmotivated, spring is the relief. I find myself putting off things on my to-do list to soak in that sweet smell of hyacinth lingering in the air. It seems to knock just enough rust off my soul to feel my optimism return.