The blooming of cherry blossoms is a brief spectacle that lasts a mere matter of weeks, astonishing viewers with their overwhelming beauty. Adored around the world, the cherry blossoms, or sakura in Japan, mark the first signs of spring, as well as a cultural icon for expressions of femininity, life, death, and renewal. Photographing cherry blossoms can be as exciting as photographing wildlife in a safari in Africa. Ever so brief, the opportunity to photograph cherry blossoms can be weeks or even days, so photographers need to be quick to capture this stunning springtime bloom.
Shutterstock Illustration by JoyImage
That’s why we’re sharing 15 tips from photographers around the world who are pros at photographing cherry blossoms in bloom. From Japan to DC, these photographers hustle during the season to capture stunning images of cherry blossoms to share with customers around the world on Shutterstock.
Photographing cherry blossoms is an opportunity that few photographers get a chance to witness and master. Images of cherry blossoms attract and captivate an international audience of onlookers who are astonished at their beauty.
Shutterstock Image by Laura Battiato
Here are 15 tips on photographing cherry blossoms from photographers at Shutterstock.
15 Pro Tips on Photographing Cherry Blossoms
1: Be There Early
“The most important tip for photographing cherry blossoms is to be there in the early morning, pre-dawn. Crowds become unmanageable during peak blossom times later in the day, and the wind picks up. Crowds kick-up dust. Go in the morning!”
2: Experiment with Fill Flash
“Experiment with full flash so that you can properly expose the flowers in context of whatever monument you are framing.”
Shutterstock Artist: Sergey Zaykov
3: Shoot in Soft Light
“Photographing cherry blossoms is best in soft evening light, with an open aperture. This creates a warm and gentle photograph.”
4: Framing Your Photograph
“To get the volume you need, dive into the frame and use the closest branches and flowers as a foreground to your image. Experiment with perspective and your camera height.”
5: Shooting Portraits in Cherry Blossoms
“I usually shoot portraits, so my recommendation for photographers wanting to photograph cherry blossoms are to include a person in the context of the awakening nature. Emphasizing femininity with a woman’s touch or tenderness with delicate, blooming cherry blossoms.”
6: Keep it Simple
“When photographing cherry blossoms, the less unnecessary decor and details the better. Nature itself is beautiful, and self-sufficient when photographing cherry blossoms.”
7: Be Flexible with Travel
“If you are travelling to photograph cherry blossoms, my tip would be to be patient and flexible with your travel plans. Nature is fickle- and the bloom period is short. Rarely in my experience have the blossoms peaked during the historical average dates.”
8: Be Patient
“I often track cherry blossoms forecasts daily and make travel arrangements accordingly. If the shot is important enough, I’ll spend a significant amount of time in one place waiting for the peak bloom. Patience and persistence often pays off!”
9: Do Your Research
“Do your research in advance when photographing cherry blossoms. Find good spots, check the weather, and be sure that the trees are in full bloom. Instagram can help, by using the geotag feature and looking at recent photos.”
10: Don’t Go on Weekends
“People love cherry blossoms, so every beautiful spot will be crowded during the season. Come early in the morning, right after the dawn and you’ll be rewarded with no crowds and beautiful nights. Avoid weekends, weekdays are much less crowded.”
11: Scope Locations in Advance
“Ideally look for your best compositions the evening before, and go straight there the next day. Try to be in the position to catch the morning sun striking the blossoms of the trees, so they are lit and not in the shadow.”
12: Combine Two Images
Try focusing first on the blossoms close to you, and then take a second shot of a distant monument across the water. Blend the two images in Photoshop to create a much sharper final image.
13: Plan Ahead
“The best way to know if a place has cherry blossoms, is to scope it out a year before and then plan accordingly for the next year. That way, you don’t have to look for a cherry blossom tree when they are already blooming.”
14: Take Images in Golden Light
“Photographing cherry blossoms is best done in golden light. Otherwise, the cherry blossoms can appear bleached or white in direct, strong sunlight and won’t have as bold of a color.”
15: Use a Fast Lens
“Use a fast lens with an aperture that’s between f/1.4-f/1.8 to get the best results. That way, you get some nice foreground and background out of focus when you want to photograph portraits in cherry blossoms.”
Shutterstock Image by Ekaterina Pokrovsky
We can’t wait to see what you capture this spring season when the cherry blossoms bloom near you. For more tips on capturing cherry blossoms, check out this article on the National Cherry Blossom Festival.