We had our first snowfall of the year this past weekend in Maryland! I was lucky enough to already have this family scheduled on the books, and when I approached Mom about potential weather woes, she encouraged us to push forward with the session. I am SO happy we did and love how magical these feel. Scroll through to see this sweet family session and to read about my tips for shooting family portraits in the snow.
Tips for planning a photography session in the snow:
This is probably the trickiest part! You want there to be a few inches of snow coverage on the ground, but not so much that it gets into your shoes. Ideally the snow should not be sticking to the pavement or roads. If it is still snowing during the session, this makes for beautiful falling flakes in the foreground and background, but may also blow into your face, hair, and your photographer’s lens (all of my gear is weather sealed, but it may mean that I need to stop to wipe down the lens!). Ideally you can time your session for when the snow is starting to slow down and taper off.
Make no mistake about it- you’re going to be cold! Layer up on the outfits, add an extra base layer if necessary, and plan your footwear accordingly. Scarves, vests, a cute hat, mittens, and other winter accessories can all add lasting power to your session time. Also consider adding hand warmers to your pockets for a toasty little pick me up. Or…how about hot chocolate and a warm blanket? Make your session styling and details work for you to keep you warm!
One of the reasons this photo session worked so well was because the farm was fortuitously hosting its “Christmas at the Farm” open house that day. I was able to capture different groupings of the family, and the family members that weren’t being photographed at that time ran into the house to warm up. We had their car running the entire time as a back up plan to keep the kids warm. The farm is ideal because it has a variety of settings, all within close proximity to one another. Because of this, we were able to capture everyone very efficiently! Snow is not the time to go on a long trekking adventure unless you’ve discussed this with your photographer ahead of time!
Scheduling a snow session is very dependent on weather conditions and timing. If it starts snowing in the evening and you’re planning on shooting in the morning, but wake up to no accumulation on the ground, be prepared and willing to wait until later in the day! If the snow comes out of nowhere, be willing to move your schedule around to make it work. We are at the whim of the weather gods here, even more so than regular portrait sessions. Managing expectations and having an awesome attitude about ‘come what may’ is so vital to a successful photography session in the snow.
Please, please keep safety on the top of your priority list. Monitor your weather channel (or if you are me, monitor 5 different channels) to see how the conditions will be leading up to and following the day of the session. If roads are untreated, or start to get icy…do. not. attempt. In the DMV, we tend to go a little crazy when there is snow or inclement weather, so use your best judgment, put your winter tires on, and drive extra carefully. PS- if you don’t have a vehicle with AWD, I highly recommend it (Go Team Subaru!)