As I write this, winter has returned once more. The snow is flying and it's just cold and dreary outside. It's been a long winter in Ontario, and we all have had enough of the snow.
Many of the families I'm talking to are waiting it out until the snow melts so they can get out into the sunshine for their family photos. And I have to admit that I don't particularly like the cold either. Still, there are some upsides to the "off" season that can make your family photos unique and add interest. Upsides that are worth considering.
If you like winter sports, this might be a great time of year for your family photo. Perhaps your family can gather round the snowmobile if you enjoy sledding together, or with your skis if you like to cross country or down hill. Maybe you just like to get out and have a snowball fight once in a while.
All are good photo opportunities that are much harder to pull off in the summer!
Consider the setting as a background. In the spring, summer and fall the trees, the flowers and all of nature draws attention to itself, screaming "look at me", while in the winter everything wants to curl up and hide away until the warmer weather.
Colours on outfits and the rose of cold cheeks will pop and draw a persons eye to you; the real subject of any portrait. A white background can be much cleaner, a less distracting canvas against which to have your portrait taken.
Although it can be colder in the morning, fresh snow is usually whiter and makes for better images. Watch the weather forecast and plan to go the day after a snowfall for maximum visual effect. There are plenty of bright sunny days in the winter, so don't think it's all going to be snowstorms.
From a photographic perspective (read great light), the days are shorter, which just means the sun never quite rises as high as it does in the summer - giving you more "golden hour" light (morning and evening) to work with. Highlights, rim-light, golden coloured light - all are benefits of a low sun that you can be taken advantage of.
If you're going to go out for a winter session, be sure to dress warm. Sounds reasonable enough, but when you're posing for the shots, you may be standing still for a few minutes, so staying warm is important. Cuddle up together. Not only will it keep you warmer, but you are sure to enjoy it more, and it will make a cozy shot too.
Be sure to take a break once in a while. Sitting in a nice warm vehicle and warming up a bit will keep you from becoming tired of the cold and keep a smile on your face. You might even want to include a nice warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate in the photo. The steam may add a bit of interest to the image and keep you warm at the same time.
Be flexible - the weather can change, so you need to be prepared to move with it. The same applies in the summer, but in the winter it can be more treacherous. Be prepared to cancel or postpone if a really terrible storm is coming. Still, don't be afraid of a little snow - like a little rain, a light and fluffy snowfall can give an image a magical character.
It was the best of times...
So whether it be summer or winter, you can always get some great photographs. The main thing is to have some fun at your photo session. The captured smiles will live on in those great images forever. Throw a snowball or two and have some fun. but most of all, don't worry about the weather. No matter what it's like, you can still end up with some amazing shots.
(c) 2014 by Gary Scott, Gary's Lens Photography. www.garyslens.ca