Do you want to know how to shoot in winter like a pro, to get magical Christmas mood and make your clients super satisfied?
Watch out for the light
During winter days are shorter. If in summer you can start your photo shoot at 6 AM to catch the best light, in winter months sun rises at around 8 AM and the light is way colder. Evening times are also changed and it gets darker way quicker. So if you plan a session during the sunset, keep your flashgun or alternative light source ready.
If you shoot with lots of snow outside, keep in mind that snow is a natural white reflector. To avoid any unwanted glares or shadows try positioning your subject in areas covered from the direct sun light (or wait for the cloud to cover the sun and work as a nice diffuser).
Choose the clothes wisely
For shoots outside make sure your client(s) and you yourself dress warm enough. Having extra layers is always a good idea. If it gets to warm you can always just unbutton your jacket or loose one of the layers (way better than shivering from cold).
Hats, mittens, scarfs, besides keeping you safe from the cold, but also can contribute to the atmosphere in your shots and give them a more natural winter look. Make sure to advise your clients/models, to wear clothes in solid matching colors. For our shoots at FashionPhotoLab we always recommend our clients a stylist as an option. I work a lot with Oksana Magulii in many of my shoots. After discussing the concept she works with the model prior to the shoot, orders all the clothes and accessories that would match and fit perfectly.
Prep your gear
In cold weather your camera battery drains way faster. Of course it depends on your camera, model, age etc., but in general in negative temperatures you’ll run out of juice 2-3 times quicker.
So how to deal with that? Always pack one or two extra batteries for the shoot. Keep them away from the cold as well, ideally in an inside pocket next to your body.
When you shoot in a snowfall, you might get issues with your camera due to moisture from melting snow. So always have a case/cover/or at least a plastic bag packed.
Planning a shoot inside? Great idea! It’s nice and warm, you are less dependent on the weather, and you have more control over the light.
But there is a risk that when shooting inside you may loose the whole atmosphere of winter. So what can you do to bring it back? Use Christmas accessories! Like a Christmas tree, gingerbread cookies, sparkles, plaid, a fire place. Dress your models appropriately, consider wearing winter sweaters, woolen socks for a cozy look, or some fancy outfits for more festive shoots. Same advice here, if you want your results look absolutely stunning, get some help from a stylist. It might cost you or your client a bit extra, but it is so worth it.
Have a plan (and plan B)
Any photoshoot requires planning. You need to have an idea in mind, you need to know, more or less, how to execute it, and you need to have some extra options in case things go wrong.
For winter shoots, especially for the sessions outside, you time frame is way shorter. It’s cold, it can be unpleasant, you loose light. Here are the typical things I think about before the winter photoshoot with a client:
- our route – where we meet, several locations in the city with beautiful views, that are not too far from each other, so we can easily cover the distance by foot.
- must have shots – a bare minimum that you definitely must have. And then a bunch of shots you want to try and experiment with (then if you run out of time, you know that those are easy to drop)
- consider the light for your picked locations. For example, if I need the sun to be behind my model at some particular place to get the shot I want, I need to make sure we are going to be there at the right time.
- find a few places where you can have some cover (a tree or a bridge) in case it starts snowing (or raining) heavily, so you can still make some outside shots without snowflakes obscuring your model.
- think about several places, like a cafe, where you can take a little break, get a cup of coffee to warm up, and maybe have a few nice pictures inside as well. Always check their opening times. Always visit those places before so you would know how busy it would be, which table to take, and how staff would react to you taking pictures.
And things always go wrong, so be flexible and adoptive, planning is essential, plans are useless. Keep up a good mood even when nothing turns out the way you planned. At the end of the day for your client the photoshoot first of all is an experience. Make sure they leave your session with tons of positive emotions and a great story to tell.