An 8-Step Guide to Winter Photography

Techniques/ Tips

An 8-Step Guide to Winter Photography

We’d be lying if we told you that we enjoy the freezing temps and howling wind of winter, but wow, what a picturesque season it can be. Photography is an art for all seasons; make the most of winter with this easy 8-step guide.

1. Keep a warm battery

“Cold batteries act like dead batteries,” says photographer Tom Cavalieri. The consensus seems to be that you should carry an extra set or two of batteries in your pants pocket, close to your body warmth. Switch batteries as needed based on performance.

Image courtesy of Photography for Beginners

Image courtesy of Photography for Beginners

2. Invest in the right gloves

We don’t need to tell you to bundle up. We do need to talk to you about gloves, though. A $5 pair of thin wool gloves may be fine for everyday use, but not for an outdoor photo shoot in cold weather. You’ll freeze your hands taking them on and off to operate the camera, not to mention risk dropping it due to poor grip.

You need heavy duty (and probably touchscreen compatible) gloves – check out these picks from Adorama.

Image courtesy of Adorama

Image courtesy of Adorama

3. Have a plan

Winter is not an opportune season for the wandering photographer. It’s uncomfortable and the days are extremely short. Depending on the weather, how far north you live and your travel time, your window for shooting may only be 3-4 hours for most of the season. Have a plan, or at least some framework of one, before you pack up and head out.

Image courtesy of Berlin City Auto Dealer

Image courtesy of Berlin City Auto Group

4. Beat the snowplows

Get out there right after snowfall, especially if you’re photographing cityscapes. A lot of times in New York, even several inches of beautiful snow will become ugly slush within an hour or two. Fresh snow glistens in the sunlight and boosts the colors of a winter sunrise or sunset.


5. Find color and contrast

Nature doesn’t offer much color in the dead of winter, and plain snow shots can often come out dull. But the advantage is that even a small swatch of color will really pop in this type of environment. Find color and contrast in clothing, accessories, signs, the sky, seasonal objects and even faces.

Image courtesy of Photography Life

Image courtesy of Photography Life

6. Monitor Your Exposure and White Balance

Snow will almost undoubtedly throw off your auto settings. To avoid a grey or blue tone, Picture Correct suggests: overexpose by +0.3 to +1.0 EV for a better exposure value, achieving a truer whiteness but taking care not to overexpose too much and lose any detail.”

Even if your camera has a “snow shooting mode,” don’t go on autopilot; manually adjust both your exposure and white balance settings until you find the look you’re going for.

Image courtesy of NWF

Image courtesy of NWF

7. Embrace the Season

Try something new to get yourself into the winter spirit. Shoot skiing or snowboarding in action mode, make snow art, or try your hand at wildlife photography (stick with birds over bears unless you’re an experienced wildlife photographer, and review this guide to bear encounters before venturing into the woods – seriously).

Image courtesy of HowStuffWork

Image courtesy of HowStuffWorks

8. Capture the Moment

Loosen up, have fun and capture the moment. Speaking of capturing the moment, our most popular photo contest is back, and it’s certainly not limited to winter photography – check it out here.

Have a tip to add? Tell us in the comments below. Happy shooting!