Stock Photo Shoot Planning for February

Plan your stock photoshoots with our photographer content creation guides

Photo by Alina Kho

Welcome to our monthly photo shoot planning guide where we share themes, special dates, and suggested tags to help guide you in creating and preparing your stock photos for submission to Noun Project for the months ahead.  

When people think about the month of February, the theme of Love and Friendship often comes right to mind. One of the most widely recognized holidays in February is Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love and affection, perfect for creating stock photos. Two Fun and Festive celebrations also occur in February that provide a great opportunity to capture fabulous photos: Mardi Gras and Lunar New Year.

Black History Month, observed throughout February, is a time to recognize and honor the achievements and history of Black Americans. 

Black History Month

To honor Black History Month, Noun Project has curated a photo collection celebrating the achievements, cultural heritage, and history of Black Americans with images from the Library of Congress, GPA, NASA and more. Our collection includes images of Black American leaders who have paved the way for civil rights, leaders in the arts and sciences, education, sports, politics, and more. 

Wilma Rudolph winning the 100 meter dash at the 1960 Olympics in Rome
Courtesy of the GPA Archives

Love and Friendship

February is often hailed as the month of love and friendship, a theme that resonates deeply in various cultures and communities around the world. February offers up a myriad of ways to capture this theme in stock photos.

Valentine’s Day, observed on February 14th, has become synonymous with romantic love. Couples and partners expressing their love for each other by spending quality time together at home, having romantic dinners, exploring the outdoors, and exchanging gifts such as chocolates and flowers are suggestions of activities in which to create authentic stock photos that represent the theme of love and Valentine’s Day.

Noun Project customers prefer authentic stock images. The most emotive and authentic photos will happen when your subjects feel relaxed and at ease. Follow these tips for portrait success!

Photo by Jacob Lund Photography

Photo (L) by Suzanne Strong // Photo (R) by Javier Sanchez Mignorance

Photo by Artem Varnitsin

Photo (L) by Jacob Lund Photography // Photo (R) by Carina Koenig

February is also known as Friendship Month, providing a broader scope to the month’s festivities and highlighting the importance of connections beyond romantic relationships.

Creating stock photos that celebrate friendship is a very fun endeavor! To capture authentic moments of friendship, hire people for your photoshoot who are actual friends as they will already be relaxed and comfortable around each other. Ask your subjects to engage in activities they enjoy together, then step back and look for the perfect moment of connection in their friendship and push that shutter!

Photo by Jacob Lund Photography

Photo (L) by Jacob Lund Photography // Photo (R) by Jacob Lund Photography

Photo by Jacob Lund Photography

Celebrate and Photograph More Types of Love

While we often think about Valentine’s Day and the month of February as being associated with romantic or platonic love, did you know that the Ancient Greeks recognized that there are many other types of love?  The feelings that we have for our parents, partners, friends, and children, for example, are quite different from each other. Learn about the categories of love and how to capture them in stock photos here.

Photo by Jacob Lund Photography

The month of love and friendship can also be captured without people in stock photos. Flowers, chocolate, and sparkling wine are often associated with gifts of love and make perfect subjects for flat lay and still life images. 

Photo by Anna Bogush

Photo (L) by Anna Bogush // Photo (R) by Alina Kho

Red and pink are the primary colors for Valentine’s Day, but feel free to break from the crowd and go with non-traditional colors, such as a palette of blue tones.

Photo by Anna Bogush

Suggested tags: love, romance, date night, Valentine’s Day, chocolate, friendship, friends, Black History Month, February, February holidays

Fun and Festive in February

February also brings us several festive holidays, perfect for creating fun and celebratory stock photos: Mardi Gras, falling on February 13th in the year 2024, and Lunar New Year, falling on February 10th in 2024. Lunar New Year in 2024 will usher in the Year of the Dragon! Lantern Festival, 15 days after Lunar New Year, commemorates the end of the Lunar New Year festivities.

Photo from Scopio

Gear and Settings Tips
To capture the energy and vibrancy of a Mardi Gras or a Lunar New Year celebration, there are a few types of gear and settings that will help you get the best stock photos at these types of events.

Use a versatile lens, such as a 24 -70mm, to quickly switch between wide shots of the parades and close-ups of the costumes and expressions of the participants.  If shooting in the evening or in lower-light conditions, choose a lens with an aperture of f1.8 – f3.5.  In low light, a shutter speed of no slower than 1/100 will help you effectively capture the fast pace of the parades. A suggested setting for ISO for low light conditions is between 1600 and 3200. To minimize grain or noise in your images don’t go over an ISO of 3200.  

To effectively stop any action and to prevent motion blur in daylight conditions, a good choice for shutter speed is between 1/250 – 1/1000 or faster.

When shooting in public places, it is of utmost importance to be respectful and thoughtful of the people who are attending events. Always ask for permission before photographing someone close up at an event. Further, pay attention to make sure your photo choices are respectful to the cultures being celebrated. If unsure, ask a participant, who will more than likely be happy to talk about the meaning and customs of the celebration.

If shooting at a public parade or street event for stock photos, keep in mind that images with people or floats likely need an Editorial Use Restriction on the license, unless you receive permission and obtain signed model or property releases. To learn more about required releases at Noun Project, please go to our FAQ.

Photo by Carol M. Highsmith

Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is a day of indulgence; a vibrant and exuberant celebration that precedes the solemn season of Lent in Christian traditions. It is particularly famous in New Orleans, Louisiana, although many other cities in the south of the US also celebrate Mardi Gras as well.  At the core of Mardi Gras celebrations are the vibrant parades, where ornate floats glide through the streets from which masked participants throw beads, doubloons, and other trinkets to the crowds on the street. Revelers often dress in fun and flamboyant costumes, many wearing Mardi Gras’ signature hues of purple, green, and gold. Mardi Gras celebrations are an incredibly fun place to take stock photos that honor this tradition.

Photo (L) by Carol M. Highsmith // Photo (R) by Carol M. Highsmith

Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, is one of the most important traditional festivals in Chinese culture. It celebrates the beginning of a new year: seeing out the old and welcoming in the luck and prosperity of a new year. Many other countries and cultures also celebrate Lunar New Year, including Bhutan, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam.

Common practices for Lunar New Year include cleaning your home, decorating with red lanterns to attract good fortune, attending parades with lion or dragon dances, exchanging red envelopes containing money for luck, setting off fireworks to ward off evil spirits, and enjoying an abundance of food.

Attending a public event that celebrates the new year is a fun way to capture lively stock photos.

Photo from Scopio

Photo (L) from Scopio // Photo (R) from Scopio

Photo by Rosely Majid

Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first month of the new year, during the first full moon of the year. Lantern Festival marks the end of the New Year celebrations and ushers in the beginning of spring. This day honors deceased ancestors and is celebrated across countries, cultures and locations including Hawaii, Vietnam, China, Tibet, and more. 

Lantern Festival is known for glowing lanterns in the night sky or floating on the water. Bright and colorful lanterns hang from homes and buildings to honor loved ones who have passed, to drive out the darkness and to bring hope to the new year. These festivals provide a magical backdrop for thoughtful and emotive stock photos.

Photo from Scopio

While attending public events and parades is a fun way to create stock photos that honor these festivities, you can capture the spirit of the holidays without the need for models or releases. Creating flat lay and still-life images of celebratory food, lanterns, and decor are some ideas for stock photos that can be easily created at home.

The colors of red and gold symbolize warmth, happiness, and good fortune and look beautiful together in an image.

Photo by Alexsandr Latkun

Photo (L) from Scopio // Photo (R) from Scopio

Suggested tags: Mardi Gras, New Orleans, carnival, celebration, parade, float, party, costume Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, Lantern Festival, lanterns, February, February holidays

More Inspiration

Other significant themes, dates, and observances to inspire your stock photos for February are:

American Heart Month; National Bird Watching Month; National Snack Food Month; Random Acts of Kindness Week, celebrated the third week of February; National Freedom Day on February 1st; World Cancer Day on February 4th; the Superbowl, falling on February 11th in 2024; International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11th; National Tortilla Day on February 24th; and last but not least, we get an extra day in February on the 29th with 2024 being a leap year.

Interested in joining our community of photographers and contributing to Noun Project? Submit your photos and explore our guide to creating authentic, inclusive images.

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Suzanne Strong
Suzanne Strong

VP of Content & Creators at Noun Project and Photographer

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