You’ve battled grocery store lines, located snowsuits and mittens, and filled your Netflix queue with new material — the only thing left to do is enjoy the snow with your kids, and try to get a few snow day photos.
If you find shooting photos of your kids amid freezing temperatures and the chaos of sledding and snowman building to be an overwhelming task — fear not. Experts say the only tools you need for fantastic snow day photos are some warm clothes and a little bit of creativity.
1. Pay attention to detail
Sarah Wilkerson is the CEO of Clickin’ Moms, an online photography community that provides tutorials and expert advice. She suggests giving special attention to the details that make the experience real in your mind — things like rosy cheeks, red noses, snow-crusted mittens and the textures of kids’ fuzzy hats and scarves.
2. Build a snowy scene
New York City lifestyle photographer Danielle Guenther suggests that parents give some thought to the background of their winter photos. For example, Guenther recommends having your kids build their snowman in a location that offers snowy trees as a backdrop as a way to add wintry texture to your photo.
3. Add a pop of color
Both Wilkerson and Guenther emphasize the unique opportunity snow provides to make bright colors pop against a white backdrop. “Dressing children in bright colors is always a great way to make your images more lively, but when snow covers the scene, those colors really pop against all of that white. A bright red coat looks amazing in winter photos, but even a small splash of color — a yellow scarf, a blue sled, hot pink boots — is a great way to give your images impact,” said Wilkerson.
4. Create a distraction
“If you want to take a close-up portrait, ask your child to look out at the trees and see if they can spot some birds or find a few snowflakes falling. By guiding them to look away and ponder, you can often catch the emotion in their eyes,” said Guenther.
5. Be a master of movement
Guenther says that while it’s difficult to catch your child mid-sled-ride, there’s nothing wrong with posing them so that they appear to be moving. “Have them lay down on the sled, pull them around a bit, then stop and ask them a silly question while they're still on the sled. Get them laughing, and boom — you have an image that appears as if they were in full action,” said Guenther.
6. Remember the golden hour
Wilkerson adds that the hour or so before sunset is a favorite time of photographers for capturing images. “It seems especially magical when the warm light shines across the cool, sparkling snow. If it’s not too cold, it’s worth bundling up for these extra special photos as your snow day comes to an end,” said Wilkerson.
7. Expose brighter
According to Wilkerson, most cameras have the tendency to make snow look gray in a bright, white scene. If your camera allows it, Wilkerson recommends setting your exposure compensation setting to +1 or +2, which tells your camera to produce a brighter image than normal. If not, Wilkerson recommends using your favorite photo-processing program to brighten the image after the fact.
8. Get involved
“Hand over that camera to your spouse and get in the image. If you're uncomfortable (being in photos), take images of your spouse with your children. Even asking your husband to hand over a snowball to your child can be a little moment that you can capture forever and use to tell a story,” said Guenther.
9. Take “after” photos
Wilkerson reminds parents to take photos once their rosy-cheeked little ones have returned to the warmth of their home. “Nearly as wonderful as the joy of snow angels and igloos is that of returning to the warmth of home after a few hours of play. Photograph the end of the snow day fun as your children warm themselves back up with a steaming cup of hot cocoa or by a crackling fire," said Wilkerson.