How to Photograph Cherry Blossom Trees

How to create soft and dreamy cherry blossom images

The trees in front of my house are in full bloom and I know it won’t last long. So, I got out my camera and photographed them until my neck hurt from looking straight up! (Which was about 15 minutes!)

In Victoria, BC, the cherry blossom season heralds the arrival of spring with a burst of delicate pink and white blooms that blanket the city in a breathtaking display of natural beauty. As winter’s chill gives way to warmer days, thousands of cherry trees burst into bloom, lining the streets, parks, and gardens with their ethereal petals. The city becomes a canvas of pastel hues as locals and visitors alike head outside to witness this annual spectacle, capturing the fleeting beauty of the cherry blossoms in photographs and memories. From leisurely strolls along tree-lined avenues to peaceful picnics beneath the blossoms’ canopy, the cherry blossom season in Victoria is a time of joy, renewal, and celebration of nature’s timeless splendor. Here are my top 3 tips for photographing soft and dreamy cherry blossom trees.

Tip #1 - Shoot on a Cloudy Day!

It may seem counter-intuitive, but you want to avoid sunny days because they cause too much contrast on the delicate flowers. Also, unless you’re after a blue background, you don’t want the extra blue color showing through the petals. I like to create high-key images (lots of bright whites) and for me, a cloudy day provides a beautiful soft white background in which to accentuate the pale pink flowers.

(This is not to say you CAN’T shoot on a sunny day, it just means your photos will have a very different look and feel if you do! You’ll get more contrast and more vibrance, which is the opposite of “soft and dreamy” – the effect we’re going for on this blog post.)

Tip #2 - Overexpose

Your camera’s light meter likes to make everything middle gray, which as you probably can tell, isn’t going to work for photos that are mostly bright (that “high-key” thing again!). So when you are shooting something that you intentionally want light, set your camera to overexpose, usually about +1 will do it. 

This might be called “exposure compensation” in your camera’s menu, or you might have a button with a +/- symbol. That’s where you want to change the setting to the + side.  If you’re shooting manually, all you do is watch the light meter and adjust your settings until it looks like you’re overexposing the image. You may want to try a few different settings from +0.3 to +1.3 or so. If you’re spot metering on the flower, then you may not need to overexpose as much.

Tip #3 - Think Small!

It’s easy to forget about composition when you are staring at something so beautiful as this! But, try not to just aim at the tree and shoot the whole thing! Instead, think small and try to focus on one particular branch, or one particular flower and compose that in your frame. Really show the viewer exactly what draws you to that exact spot… be it the petals, the cluster of flowers or some small part of the tree.

Keep the background in mind when you’re composing your shot. Do you want white behind your blossom? Then move around until you can frame your subject with the sky behind. If you want pink behind, find a dense part of the tree and use that as your background.  I like to keep things soft and dreamy by using a wide aperture as well as focusing on something small, so everything behind it goes out of focus. 

And just incase you’re wondering if I went somewhere spectacular that you couldn’t go yourself, here’s what it looks like on my street! Nothing special about the street, just a couple of amazing blooming trees! You could shoot photos like this ANYWHERE you see a beautiful tree!

I hope that gave you a bit of inspiration! As always, I’m here if you have any questions! Just send me an email!



Would you like 1 on 1 photography training? Check out my private lessons – Based in Victoria, BC. 

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