In Minnesota, we are no strangers to the cold. I’ve photographed weddings and engagement sessions in crazy low temperatures, and I’ve learned a lot about photographing in cold temperatures and editing winter photos over the years. Here are my best cold weather photography tips to create stunning photos even despite the cold! Throughout this post, I’ll be sharing images from a recent engagement session that I shot in 2 degree weather!
Cold Weather Photography Tips
Tips for Protecting your Photography Gear in Cold Temperatures
Prep your batteries
Batteries will lose their power much more quickly in the cold weather. Make sure you charge every battery before your shoot. Then, keep your batteries in your coat pocket during the shoot. Keep the batteries close to your body will allow your body heat to keep them warm and, therefore, keep their charge.
Prepare your camera
Your camera can malfunction or get damaged in freezing weather due to the rapid change in temperature and condensation. Be careful! However, you can avoid this damage by gently easing your gear into the cold weather. I put my camera bag in my car about 20 minutes before I plan to leave for my shoot. Keeping your gear in a bag in the garage will expose it to the cold without shocking the system. This allows your gear to start adjusting to the cold temperatures slowly. Also, always have a backup camera body in your bag in case something happens.
Pack a plastic storage bag
Keep a gallon Ziploc bag in your camera bag for after your shoot. Put your camera and lens in the bag and seal it when you finish your shoot before putting the camera back in your car. This will seal the cold air in and allow your gear to adjust to warmth again for slowly.
Tips for Photographing in Cold Weather
Check your Exposure
Okay this isn’t necessarily about protecting your gear, but protecting your images instead. If there is snow on the ground, your camera tends to think you are overexposing because the snow is so bright. However, be sure to check the exposure for your subject, not the image as a whole. You don’t want to accidentally underexpose every shot!
Pay Attention to your White Balance
Once again, if there is snow on the ground, you will notice that your images are more blue than normal. The snow reflects the blue sky and creates a very cool tone in the images. Set your white balance warm and check your clients’ skin tones straight out of camera to ensure you’re not shooting too cool.
Tips for Protecting your Client at a Cold Weather Shoot
Take Frequent Breaks
Go slow! Let your client take frequent breaks to sit in a warm car. If your clients are freezing, they won’t relax into poses. They also will get red noses, ears and hands. Therefore, keeping your clients as warm as possible is imperative.
Bring a blanket and gloves
Carry a warm blanket around with you that your clients can wrap up in while walking between locations. It’s faster to throw on over their outfits to warm up than coats. It’s also nice to bring gloves your clients can throw on to keep their hands warm. There’s nothing worse than trying to take a ring detail shot and your client’s hands are red and chapped.
When it’s freezing out, I always think my clients want to hurry through the shoot because they’re cold. However, don’t forget to slow down a bit! Check your camera settings and make sure your clients look great before you start shooting. Taking the extra few seconds is worth it, despite the cold.
Tips for Protect Yourself!
Invest in proper gloves
As the photographer at a cold weather shoot, the most important thing is to keep your hands warm. If you don’t wear gloves or use hand warmers, your hands will literally freeze up. Your muscles will tighten to a point where you can’t click your shutter button. Therefore, investing in good photography gloves that cover everything but your fingertips is a great investment. Otherwise, just getting a normal convertible mitten should suffice.
I know it sounds obvious, but wear ALL the layers. You may feel guilty dressing crazy warm while your clients don’t get to wear all the bulky clothes, but remember you are there to serve them. You won’t be able to do your job properly if you are freezing your bum off! Wear leggings under your jeans, put on a warm coat over a turtleneck, and stay cozy!
You shouldn’t let cold temperatures stop you from creating some magic for your clients! Winter photos can be gorgeous and unique. However, there are special precautions you should take to protect your clients, your gear, and yourself. Use these cold weather photography tips next time you have a winter shoot!