Top 5 Tips For Great Snow Day Photos!
As winter being to say it’s goodbyes, you might be wishing you had photographed your family playing in the snow. As my friend Jordan shared with me recently, winter is where children’s memories of home, are made. The first few times I tried photographing my kids in the snow I found myself frustrated. It’s really hard to get the perfect balance of whites right. There are a billion shades of white. Don’t believe me, check any hardware store paint section! White can be pure, dove, marshmallow, and the list goes on and on… Between the soft light of the sky, the powdery snow, and the complexion of the people you’re photographing- it can be tough to figure out what your camera settings need to be to capture those fleeting moments. Not to mention it’s not easy shooting in the cold weather- snow or not! Adjusting your white balance, aperture, and speed is a tricky skill even in the best of temperatures. Throw in little ones, lost mittens, snow balls, and sleds, it becomes nearly impossible to keep your cool and encourage smiles and happy shots. But I’m here to tell you it is in fact possible. Here are my Top 5 favorite tips for great snow day photos.
1.Adjust your camera settings from the comfort of the great indoors. Before I took these photographs of my kids I aimed my camera toward the window that faces our backyard. I adjusted my settings to capture the temperature of the photos that I wanted. I tend to shoot warm photos- meaning there’s a lot of yellow in my images. With snow, white reads very blue- which can be a nice change of pace and is appropriate for winter photos. You’d be surprised how much tone affects your association with a season. However, because I tend to like an overall warm tone, I adjusted my white balance until I felt like there was a good amount of yellow tint to the photos. Pro Tip: Try adjusting your white balance to Kelvin instead of the typical daylight, flash, florescent, etc settings. I then moved on to a fast shutter speed because I was envisioning little ones running, diving, and throwing snow balls! And lastly, I shot these at a 3.0 aperture which won’t give you the creamy bokeh you see in magazines, but will keep your subjects in focus and prevent too much light from blowing out your images.
2. Snow is a natural reflector. Forget any flash or reflectors- you have snow. Crisp, white, snow will act as the greatest light bouncer you’ve every had. This is one place where snow really helps you out. Your subjects will have full light on their faces while you’re shooting so no need to fuss with off camera lighting! This close up of my son is courtesy of the snow. Thanks snow!
3. Position Yourself At The Bottom Of The Hill. All the action in snow happens going down hill. This is something I learned via trial and error. If I stood behind my kids all I would get is the back of their heads. Position yourself to at the bottom of the hill or to the side of your subjects. This way as they toss snow or chase one another, you can capture their action and their faces.
4. You Will Only Be Shooting For 10 Minutes. You can do anything for 10 minutes. Kids don’t last long in the snow, particularly once the words hot chocolate get thrown around. To maximize my efforts I initiate snow ball fights, and break out the sled rather quickly. My littlest one HATES to be cold. I wanted her in the frame but she can’t hang for longer than 10 minutes. It was important to get all the fun in, while she and I were both outside. That sounds mean doesn’t it? But the idea is to capture their joy and that joy runs out when kids start melting down. Besides they don’t know those photos were taken in the first 10 minutes of their snow day- and I bet they won’t care! *The look of pure terror on my babies face is priceless. She’s more of a beach girl!
5. Review, Review, Review! Before you head inside double check that you haven’t over exposed your images. It’s hard to check your images out in the middle of the action so take a moment to make sure that your photos look as good in camera as they did in your mind. Can you feel the joy? Do they look like you hoped they would? Are heads and arms in frame? Did you capture the snow falling all around them? It can take a little while to get it all right but with practice and a REALLY LONG WINTER you’ll get the hang of it! If your images are reading too blurry adjust your shutter speed so that you can get that action.
Show me your winter images!