The last thing most photographers want to do is go out in the snow in a howling snowstorm. Not only are you going to be frozen, but your gear is going to get wet, and if you are photographing models, they probably aren’t going to have a great time. If you are shooting adventure sports, then no problem, that is the norm for many shoots. But what about a model in a dress standing in a blizzard. That is another story.
Yesterday we had our first snowstorm of the season, and that was what motivated me to do an urban shot in downtown. I’ve found that the more reasons I come up with not to go out and shoot, chances are good the photo is going to be great. Why? Because no one else is doing it, and I probably don’t have many images similar to the one I would create. For this image I used two important items. First, my lens was the incredible 35mm f1.4. This lens is my favorite street and environmental portrait lens. And shooting at 1.4 always gives me incredible bokeh. The only trick is don’t put your subject to close to an edge where distortion at 35mm might stretch out the features of the your model. Second, since we were moving around a lot to avoid the wind and heavy snow, my lighting setup consisted of a SB5000 and 1 large (32″) umbrella. I attached my flash and umbrella to a Lastolite Triflash bracket, and used this to hold my light. I shot in TTL mode with my flash, and after dialing the flash down 2/3 stop, I got good exposures the rest of the shoot.
The snow adds a terrific atmospheric effect. The flash pops the snowflakes, making them more apparent and adding to the tension in the shot. The model, Ester, was a rock star. Despite standing in the howling snow at 25 degrees in a light dress, she acted like it was a summer day. Gotta love those tough Colorado kids.
The next time you see snow in the forecast, start planning your shoot. Whether it is landscape, adventure sports or portraits, snows adds a dynamic element to your image.