When I was a kid (growing up in rural southwestern Pennsylvania), I could easily say, without a doubt, that my favorite sound in the world was that peaceful whoosh that befalls the world around you during a snow storm. White noise in the truest sense of the term-- pure meditative magic. Those perfect, white-noise snowfalls seem to be fewer these days, in comparison, but, oh, what a novelty when they come! I've spent probably the better part of the last five winters learning how to best shoot in the snow and cold, along with the help of my sweet little ladies who are [usually] willing to spare a few minutes to dear old mom for my experiments. I won't pretend for a minute that it's rainbows and unicorns every time I ask them. I am not above a well-timed bribe. Believe it. :)
Thinking of shooting in the snow with your kids? A few helpful tips:
1. BE PREPARED! --> If you're going out to shoot with a "vision" in mind (and I recommend that you do), do your homework ahead of time before you drag the kids out into the cold. Your shoot will be over before it even begins if they're cold BEFORE you start shooting (especially little ones). The whining will ensue, which will turn into tears and then everyone will be frustrated before it even started. Preparation is key.
2. LOCATION --> Scout out your perfect spot before you head out with the kids in tow and know the shortest way to get there to eliminate long, cold walks or snowy tumbles. I'm fortunate to have quite pretty scenery and wooded areas right in my backyard and neighborhood, but it doesn't take an elaborate setting to make a beautiful image. I've been known to pull over on the side of a road because of one pretty snow-covered tree, an unseemly patch of bushes, or even have a spontaneous shoot in a retail store parking lot (much to the delight of my kids, who think I'm a few frames short of a full roll at this point, ha). The point is, beauty is everywhere, you only need to look.
3. STYLING --> Depending on what you are envisioning, you will probably want to steer clear of the bulky ski coats and snow pants for the shoot. Styling is huge if you're looking for that "magical" snowfall photo. I personally tend toward muted tones and soft, natural textures, like crocheted or knit items. (Though, recently, I do love a pop of color!) I have BIG LOVE for the use of faux fur in my images: Fur vests, furry hats or even a coat edged in fur, I can't get enough of it. It creates a coziness I love in juxtaposition to the cold scene. It also looks beautiful with snowflakes catching in the tips of the fur. Keep it simple! If I'm using a fancy dress for a photo, then I might add a cozy, fuzzy blanket as the "coat". I always dress my kids in layers discreetly under what they'll wear in the snow to help keep them warm; thus, prolonging the shoot time! If I know I want to use different hats or jackets during the shoot, I make sure to tuck those into my pocket or a small bag I can carry so I don't have to run back indoors. Whatever you decide on, have it ready to go before the shoot.
4. SHOOTING --> Know that you will likely have less than 10 minutes (sometimes as little as 3-5 minutes if it's pretty cold!) to get the shots you have been planning. Knowing what you want to shoot before you head out is the best approach. Kids, especially young ones, have little to no patience for waiting around while you pick a spot or think of a new directive for them. Have that spot picked out and a good idea of what it is you're hoping to achieve in your images. Anything impromptu or cute that happens after that is just the 'ice-ing' on the cake.
I hope this was at least a little helpful if you're thinking of snow photos this winter. This is all just what works for me, though- I'd love to hear what works for you! Here are a few favorite images I've taken with my kids this winter- they really are some of my very favorites.