1. Dress For The Occasion
This may just be the Canadian mom in me talking, dress your little ones or little clients for the weather you are shooting in. Adults are fair game to wear whatever they want, but babies do not always have the same cognitive maturity to tell you when they are too cold. Dress children in lots of layers and avoid putting cotton next to the skin. Stick with materials that wick moisture away from the skin and lock in heat. When I photograph little ones in knit suits, I usually dress them in 2-3 thin wool layers and one thicker wool layer underneath. Thin layers are easy enough to peel off and put on to regulate temperature.
2. Keep Your Shoots Short:
When photographing children during the winter, there are a multitude of reasons to keep the shoot short. The most obvious is that it is cold (hehe)! A shorter shoot will result in less of a chance of children getting miserably cold, or worse, frost-bite. Not only that, but children have short attention spans and, eventually, the novelty of the camera will wear off. This brings me to my next point.
3. Give the Kids Something To Do:
This will not only help keep them warm, but it will also help keep them both entertained and cooperative.
4. Keep Your Extra Batteries Warm:
Extreme temperatures can cause your battery life to deplete faster than normal. Try keeping your spare batteries in your pocket close to your body, so that when it comes time to change your battery out, you have a full one as a back-up.
5. Overexpose from Center:
Cameras are calibrated to expose based on 18% neutral grey. All that wintery white snow outside tricks your camera into thinking the white is grey. As a result, achieving an exposure reading of zero on your exposure meter will result in grey, dull, underexposed images. To compensate for this, you need to overexpose from your center meter. I tend to increase my exposure until I start to see my blinkies warning me of blown highlights (usually two full stops). From there I stop down a third of a stop so that my exposure is a nice bright white without any blown highlights. It does the trick!
Be cognizant of footprints:
I will often walk into the side of a frame to set up my clients in a shot to avoid editing out clusters of messy footprints. Footprints can add to your story in an image and add interest if they are layered out in a single line behind or in front of your subject. The effect is lost when there is no uniformity and they are all over your frame.
Protect Your Equipment From Sudden Shifts in Temperature:
Transferring your equipment from a warm car to sub-zero temperatures or visa-versa may cause your equipment to fog up and condensation to occur. To prevent this from happening, I put my camera and lenses in ziploc bags and let them sit outside in my camera bag outside for 15 minutes while I prepare for the shoot. When I am done shooting, I put them back into dry ziploc bags for the car-ride home and resist the urge to crank the heat!
Be Mindful of Composition:
Snow on absolutely everything can look pretty plain or insanely gorgeous depending on how you compose your shot. Try to avoid shooting down into plain snow. Shooting down on your subject in the snow does not have the same effect as shooting down into a field of wild flowers. It will end up looking like a big old blob of white. Your subjects need something to anchor them into the frame. Trees, fallen logs, fences, and buildings can be incorporated into your shot to frame and ground your subject and add interest.
Noelle Mirabella offers fine art newborn, baby, and child photography in Grande Prairie, Alberta and surrounding cities. We are also willing to travel both within Canada and abroad. Please inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about pricing and availability.