Tips For Taking Photos In Cold Weather

So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) I consider the winter months my “work hibernation period.” It’s usually too cold for people to stand outside and have their picture taken. A typical photo session takes about an hour or two. When it is below freezing, it’s nearly impossible to take pictures without a heavy coat, gloves, and a frozen subject.  But if you’ve gotta do it, I wanted to share some tips on taking pictures in cold weather.

So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial)
1. Relax. My sister-in-law, Kaitlin, moved from Pennsylvania to Springfield, MO when she married my brother. She is used to weather that is a lot colder than what we have in Springfield. Let’s just say she is an old pro when it comes to braving winter weather! On one occasion we walked back to the car after a movie and it was absolutely freezing outside! I began to shiver and rubbed my hands together as fast as I could trying to get warm. Kaitlin kept walking to the car and calmly told me that the secret is to relax. She said when it gets so cold in PA, you just have to relax and breathe. I took her advice and it worked! I relaxed my shoulders, took a deep breath, and walked back to the car. Since then, I relax every time I’m freezing and it helps so much. The same is true when taking photos of someone when it’s cold outside.

So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) In the above photo, Shailey was cold and tense. Then I asked her to drop her shoulders. What a difference it makes! If I see that the person I am photographing is stiff and uncomfortable, I tell them to relax their face and take a deep breath. The trick is to try and not look cold. Easier said than done, but being aware of this can make your pictures SO much better.

2. Plan your photos beforehand

Have a plan before you start taking pictures. This way you won’t be wandering around in the cold trying to figure out what you should do and where you should go. Think of the places you would like to photograph and also have some different poses/compositions in mind. One time I took maternity pictures when it was so cold that you could only stand to be outside a few minutes before the cold started burning your face. The sweet mom-to-be wanted pictures while it was snowing, so we braved the low temperatures by arriving at our location, jumping out of the car for a few minutes to take pictures and then jumping right back in the car to warm up. I planned out exactly what I wanted to tell her before we got out of the car. We were able to get lots of good shots, but still stay relatively warm.

3. Have your subject dress in layers to add warmth and color pops

So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) Have your subject ditch the overstuffed coat and ask them to wear layers instead. Layering will keep your subject warm, yet stylish. Shailey layered up for our little photo session and I think she did a great job! I asked her not to wear a coat, yet dress warm. The layers add lots of color and texture to the photos and detract from the fact that we took the photos in the middle of winter!

So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) 4. Blur your background

So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) Most of the trees here in Missouri don’t have leaves this time of year. This makes it really difficult to take pictures in nature without the bare trees taking over your picture and distracting from your subject. You can blur the background behind your subject by lowering your aperture. If you’re not quite sure what aperture is, it’s the opening in your lens that lets in light. The aperture gets smaller and bigger depending on where your f-stop is set. A lower f-stop number means a bigger opening. The result of a bigger opening in your aperture is low depth of field. Depth of field is basically the space in your picture/scene that will be in focus. Low depth of field means that not as much will be in focus. Have you seen those pictures where the subject is sharp and the background just melts away? That is the result of low depth of field and it can be beautiful because it makes your subject pop!  So by opening your aperture, you can keep trees in the background blurred and make your subject the focal point.

5. Cold and cloudy

So there are a few tips for taking photos in cold weather. Let’s say it is cold AND cloudy… should you just throw in the towel and forget about taking pictures? Absolutely not!

So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) Cloudy days are wonderful for pictures. The clouds diffuse the sun’s light and make a lovely, soft lighting situation.

So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) Sure, it’s great to take pictures when the sun is glowing and warm light is everywhere, but soft diffused light is just as pretty in my opinion. A cloudy day actually makes taking pictures a whole lot easier because you don’t have to worry about uneven light or harsh shadows. You have the freedom to shoot pictures wherever you like!

So helpful! Tips for taking pictures in cold weather (click through for tutorial) Next time you get the opportunity to take pictures in the cold, I hope these tips help! –Janae

Dslr basicsP.S. Are you wanting to improve your photography? Then be sure to check out our e-course, DSLR Basics

Credits//Author: Janae Hardy, Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • Very much useful tips for taking a picture in cold weather. I am glad to read this type of informative post. Thanks for your post.

  • Wear good gloves. One of the big challenges of cold weather photography is just trying to use the camera in those sub zero temperatures., happy to see such as great photography.

  • Really appreciate your photography skills. What are the tips for taking photos in HOT weather?

  • Thanks for all the great tips! I’ve tried to take photos in the cold before but it never works out quite how I’d like it. The thing about being tight and raising your shoulders is so true – it’s hard to look comfortable and natural when you’re freezing, but it definitely makes the pictures look a lot better.

  • These are fantastic tips! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
    Sophia
    http://someplaceinthemidst.blogspot.com

  • Awesome Photography Tips. I really got lots of valuable things from you. Thanks a lot. Keep up the good work.

  • I’m doing a project at school on photography and when I found your website, I stopped researching because it had all of the information I needed! Thank you!

  • I’ve found that cold and cloudy days are THE BEST for taking awesome portrait shots! Bright sunlight sometimes creates awkward shadows on your face… so I always try to shoot either in cloudy weather or in the afternoon right before the sun goes down.

    Great post!!

  • Great tips great blog. I live in Belfast were it is mostly cold so photography tips will help thank you
    Bev

  • These photos are delightful and these tips are so incredibly helpful! Thank you so much!

  • I have a question regarding #4! By opening your f-stop to a lower number/bigger opening, although you are lowering your depth of field and as you said, not much will be in focus, are you going to lose quality in the overall photo/subject? Any tips? Thanks!

  • Its really cool that people now trying to find pose for cold or hot weather!! Great it is! In my country its already ending of cold season so need a post now for taking photos in hot weather.

  • Great tips! Thank you for sharing these with us! It’s been raining and cold outside so I haven’t had the chance to go out and take pictures in a couple of weeks unfortunately 🙁

    Erika
    http://whaterikawears.com/

  • yeeees! Thanks so much for that girls. As I live in Amsterdam, they will be totally useful

    tsiou, http://www.inwhirlofinspiration.com/

  • Very helpful.
    Will keep them in mind the next time I’m shooting outdoors in cold weather (:

  • I agree about the relaxation part! My former yoga teacher encouraged us to breathe in order to build up heat.

  • Would love it if you guys would add your aperture/exposure/ISO and lens you are shooting with to each photo in your teaching posts. that way we can associate what settings go with what other variables (cloudiness, movement, etc) to get that outcome…just a thought! Thanks!

  • Those tips sound very helpful! I work as a photographer in Brazil and will be soon moving to the US. I can’t imagine how it would be to shoot during your winter. I would probably handle it even less than the person being shot hahah. Here the big challenge is shooting in summer, people sweat so much and every minute out in the open is a big challenge with how crazy hot it is. How do you do at this time of the year, do you stop doing photo sessions for a long time or is it just a short period?

    Carla

  • I loved this, I’ve been taking photographs indoors because of the cold xx

    http://leannewinters.blogspot.co.uk

  • Thank you for the tips… I am new to blogging and haven’t tried my own photography(outside) yet! However, I think I may try that now thinking of these tips! Thanks again 🙂

    courtneyglitter.wordpress.com

  • Thank you for the tips… I’m new to blogging and haven’t started with my own photography yet! Was planning to wait until the summer npbut may try it earlier with your tips! Thank you 🙂

    CourtneyGlitter 🙂

  • great tips!! my mom always told me to relax my shoulders when i was shivering and hunching them, and i swear it really works! any idea where she got her boots in the picture where she is fixing her sock? they are super cute!

    www.waterlilyshop.com
    @waterlilyshop

  • Such great tips here! My memory cards have been full of indoor shots of my houseplants and cat lately because of all of the snow and cold weather – this has inspired me take some photos outside again!

  • More than useful and great tips! Thank you very much! I started my blog recently and I’m still not sure what to do with my camera, light… Thank you very much! <3

    http://fashionistabih.blogspot.com/

  • oh my gosh, the orange knitted tank/vest dress, I need it. Any tips on where to find it or similar?

  • I hate cold weather but love snow, the struggle!

    Prom dress suggestions+ perfect HEATLESS curls

  • So interesting!!!!

    http://www.mykitschworld.blogspot.com.es/2015/01/online-shopping.html

  • These are great tips! I especially love the one re: relaxing – I have always just thought that tensing up will help me feel less cold!!

    Layers are excellent to avoid only being able to style shots with puffy parkas…but you can have one handy to throw on in a cold moment!

    =)
    Latest Post: Nature’s Corset – Sculpt Your Waist with 4 Effective Oblique Moves

  • These are so useful. For some reason I always end up in the coldest places. I will make sure to try relaxing next time around. So probably tomorrow. 😛

    Girl Against Oleka

  • I was curious so I checked out the weather in Missouri…..it seems right now it’s above 0. What’s the coldest weather you get? Because here in Ottawa Canada, the last 4 weeks have been below -25 Celsius. I don’t have the courage to brave the cold without a coat and take pictures. I’ll wait till the end of March (that’s when it starts going above 0 which is so much more livable).

  • Thank you so much! Photography is what I struggle with most on my blog. I wasn’t able to sign up for your class so these tid-bits are wonderful! Thank you!

  • Thanks for this! I also love to take photos when its a bit cloudier because like you said, there aren’t any harsh shadows! 🙂
    https://cherieedle.blogspot.com/

  • beautiful photos and great tips, very useful this winter 🙂
    Fashion latte with vanilla

  • I really needed these tips today! I’ve been holding off taking photos for my blog because of the cold. Thanks for the swift kick in the butt I needed, lol!

    Mimi
    http://thisdomesticateddiva.com

  • I love this post! Thank you for the tips! Shailey is adorable. Do you know where her orange romper is from?

    Thank you!

    Jenni

  • Also from Saskatchewan! I was going to comment on how good these tips are cold weather climates, but you’ve done the job for me 🙂

  • These are awesome tips! I live in alberta where it’s cold for half of the year so these will definitely come in handy when I’m taking photos for blog posts! Great post 🙂 xo,D

  • Those pictures look like they were taken in a tropical location compared to the -40C weather I have been experiencing this week!

  • Thanks for the advice!
    I am always put off blogging in the winter because of the cold or the rain! And also feeling confident setting my camera up. I don’t usually have a friend to take photos of me unless we really organise it and then it doesnt happen so i’m taking mine myself on a tripod which can be tricky.

    Sarah
    http://topnotchfoxy.blogspot.com

  • stunning photos! i’ve also found cloudy weather is great for pics!

    xx nikki
    www.dream-in-neon.com

  • This is awesome! Thanks so much for the tips 🙂

    Also, I LOVE the new design! Too perfect for you all 😀

    xo,
    -Charlotte
    boyerfamilysingersblog.com

  • Great tips!
    I NEVER thought about relax when I’m freezing. I’ll try this trick.
    We don’t have winter here in Brazil, but I’ve already spent two winters in NY and some days I felt I was going to freeze to die.

    I’m going to Washington DC and New York on december this year. On vacation. So I have to keep your tips in mind. Don’t want ugly pics on my vacation again.

    xo, Deborah
    http://www.everything713.blogspot.com.br

  • These are really cool and helpful tips! I’d just like to add that the revamping of the layout of ABM looks awesome! You’ve done a really great job guys!

    http://annescribblesanddoodles.blogspot.com/

  • Ahh! I’m from PA as well, where is she from? I’m from Pottstown, about an hour from Philly, so it’s ever so slightly more south than the Pittsburgh area. Winters were brutal. It was always cold weather AND a bunch of wind. Add to that the fact that I swam and my hair was constantly wet, and let’s just say winter was not my favorite season.

    These tips are great! I actually realized half the reason I hated the cold was because I always felt sore after walking through it I then realized how much I was tensing my shoulders to keep warm (when tensing doesn’t actually do anything…), so now and again I try to remind myself to relax.

    x

    http://www.samanthaelisabeth.com

  • I love the pictures with the cup! So pretty and comfy!

    Thanks for sharing and greetings from bella Italia!

    http://lasagnolove.blogspot.it/2015/01/winter-in-trieste.html

    Bambi

  • Oooh I definitely had to deal with this a couple weeks ago. Winter is just not a pretty time to shoot unless you have pretty snow. These are very helpful!

  • These are good tips! As a professional photographer, my favorite weather for photographing people is when it’s CLOUDY! LOVE it! Completely opposite to what most people would think. 🙂

  • Thanks for the tips!! Any idea where the sweater/cape thing that Shailey is wearing is from?

    xo, ellie
    http://withlovefromellie.wordpress.com

  • The relaxing tip is what I do when I’m cold, too. My clue that I’m cold-tense is that my lower back feels all scrunched up. So I consciously relax and imagine warmth spreading through me. I call it — get this– “making myself warm.” It sounds so silly, but works every time!

  • Awesome tips – especially the one about relaxing! I learned that when I lived in NYC and had to walk 10 minutes to the subway every morning no matter how cold it was…and some days it was REALLY cold! thanks Janae!

    www.boxesandjars.com

  • hahaha I wish it was cold here! but I understand. When I was in Colorado I didn’t want to take any pictures! haha
    Xo, Belen
    A Hint of Life

  • I am laughing because my husband is Australian and thrives off of warm weather. WE now live in NY and its FREEZING and he HATES it. If I told him to “relax”, I think I would have a giant frozen snowball thrown at my face HAHAHA!!
    But the tips are definitely helpful and I am gearing up to sign up for your photography/photoshop course this month. I can’t wait!!
    p.s. I just received the Emoji stamp set-ahhh!! so cute! Im gonna get my crafting on this weekend!

  • So many great tips in this post! They definitely come in handy for winter photography up here in Canada, that’s for sure. My favourite tip is to have the subject dress up in layers that add warmth, but also add new colors and textures to the photos!

    Monica – Mocha and Moccasins

  • Great tips! Although, it is much colder where I live – I’d die wearing what your model is wearing!

  • I can’t believe I am going to say this – but sitting here in San Diego where it will be in the high 70s today…I thought, “Oh, great! A post I can use right now – it’s cold here!”

    Uh, seasonally affected disorder…my thermostat is off!

    BUT, this post was actually quite helpful because there are a lot of San Diegans who think it is too cold to do things outdoors when it drops below 69 degrees. And we do get cloudy days. So, I am loving this post.

  • Definitely good tips – thank you! I feel like we have such long winters here and sometimes I get discouraged and down on taking photos. But there really is a way to make everything work!

    x Kathryn
    Through the Thicket

  • I’m definitely pinning this! I love the tip to relax – it’s definitely a good way to appear to be enjoying time outside! So funny you mention blurring the background, I recently did this to a winter picture, and I never thought about how pretty cloudy lighting is!

    Warm Regards,
    Alexandra
    www.littlewildheart.com

  • Great tips!
    My cold weather photos always involve way too many hats, mittens, scarves, and perhaps the occasional runny nose lol
    -E

  • wow what a great and helpful post! i live in texas, so it’s doesn’t get below freezing but i hate the cold! lol i’m not used to it at all. love the tips you give! keep warm!
    xo
    alysa

    alysamadisun.blogspot.com

  • Thanks for these tips Janae! I can definitely relate to this as I’ve been wanting to take photos but January hibernation got me good. February will hopefully be slighlty warmer I hope, so I might try a few of these tips 🙂

    Rita
    heyrita.co.uk

  • These are great tips! I live in Saskatchewan, Canada and it is below freezing for a good 5-6 months of the year (but quite often longer!) Being in the cold is inevitable and failing to document life simply because of that is really not an option because you’d miss out on so much!

    Sarah
    www.sweetspontaneity.com

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