There is something so enchanting about snow. The way it falls softly to the ground and covers the earth in a giant white blanket makes everything seem so fresh and magical. But when snow is present, so is the cold. That cold may mean that many of us decide to stay indoors where we are nice and toasty. Taking photos of your kids outdoors in the winter can be very rewarding, so do your best to come out of hibernation and take advantage of the beautiful winter scenery. Here are some tips to inspire you to brave the cold and keep shooting outdoors in the winter.
1. Capture the snow falling
The magical mood that is created when snow is falling really cannot be replicated. Make the most of it! Snowfall does not happen all too often in some parts of the world, so being ready to go when the snow starts falling is important. I usually have my next snow shoot planned out in advance so that I don’t miss any window of opportunity.
One thing to know is that the size of the flakes does make a difference in the look you will achieve. Groups of big flakes that fall softly are my absolute favorite. Also, don’t forget to play with your aperture to find the depth of field that you like the best.
In the image below, the snowflakes were small and more difficult to see against the white, snow covered backdrop.
The groups of snowflakes in the image below were very big and stand out against the dark background.
2. Get creative
Tired of taking photos of your kids in their bulky winter jackets and snow pants? Maybe coming up with a concept or using a prop is a good way to get the creativity flowing.
3. Use a Lensbaby
Using a Lensbaby or tilt-shift lens is a great way to stay creative when taking photos in the winter. The way the out of focus area bends and blurs can really add to the atmosphere of outdoor winter photos.
4. Play with light
After the snow stops falling and the sun comes out is the perfect time for capturing beautiful, dramatic light. The sun is lower in the sky during the winter, so backlighting works really well. The white snow serves as a perfect natural reflector, so, in most cases, there is no need to haul your reflector out with you. When light hits ice and snow that is frozen on shrubbery and trees, it looks like the whole tree is covered in jewels. What a great photo opp!
5. Step back and get in close
Make sure you take advantage of the beautiful scenery by stepping back and capturing a lot of the environment. Then get in really close and capture the details.
6. Keep it safe
Safety is certainly my top priority when photographing my children outdoors in the winter. I have lived my whole life in the north and have a Master’s Degree in Public Health, so I know very well that safety is not something to take lightly. Almost all of my outdoor winter photos are taken when the temperature is above 25 degrees – it is chilly enough that any precipitation will fall in the form of snow, but not bitterly cold. In addition, I don’t take the kids out when it is windy. Not only is wind chill dangerous, but it is difficult to get natural expressions and have fun when the cold wind is blowing.
I always make certain that my kids are warm enough and have very quick access to a safe spot. All of the photos you see in this post were taken in a location with extremely easy access to a warm home or building (most of them were taken just steps from my house, actually). Another thing I frequently do is to dress in less clothing than my kids. So, for example, if my child wears lightweight mittens, I don’t wear any protection on my hands at all. When I start to get cold, I know it is time for us to go in and warm up. Another idea to keep kids warm is to dress them in layers. Even when I dress my kids in a lighter coat, I make sure that they have extra warm layers beneath. Lastly, get your camera settings ready before taking your child out. All you need is a minute or two to capture some precious moments.
So get out there and take advantage of the beautiful winter wonderland that may be present in your own backyard. Snow and winter is an important part of my children’s life stories, and I am glad to be able to capture these important memories.
Amy Lucy Lockheart, Minnesota
Click Magazine Product Editor | CMU Instructor
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Residing in Minnesota with her husband and three children, Amy has always had an appreciation and interest in photography but it was her children who inspired her to pursue photography as a form of expression. Fortunate to be able to call photography both a passion and a profession, Amy divides her time between her own children’s photography business, her role as Product Editor for Click Magazine, coordinating the programming for Click Away, and instructing Shooting 101: First Steps With A DSLR. Shooting with a Nikon D4 and varying prime lenses, her first priority is capturing the fleeting moments of childhood. Picnicking in a state park with her family is the perfect way to spend her day off but she also enjoys collecting quotes, the beach, compassionate people, and watermelon.