3 simple tips for shooting pics of your kids in the snow.

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Well, we’ve had the snowiest winter I can remember in a long time here in IL.  These pics are from over a month or so ago, but when I shot them, I did so with a quick blog in mind.  Here’s 3 quick, easy tips to getting great snow shots of your kiddos:

1. Compensate for your camera’s (automatic) exposure.

Remember, when you shoot in any of the automatic or semi-automatic modes, your camera is deciding how bright or dark the image is supposed to be.  This is called “metering.”  Now, cameras have become very fancy these days.  They can do a fine job.  But a bright snowy day is one that will fool even the fanciest of cameras.  Here’s why:

All that white.  It’s bright.  The scene is almost all highlights.  Meanwhile, the camera is trying to create an image with a lot of mid-tones.  It’s trying to create a “safe” image, one in which neither highlights or shadows are clipped.  So, in any mode besides manual, it’s going to “meter” (measure) a very very bright scene, and adjust in order to make that scene less bright.  It simply doesn’t know that it’s supposed to be a bright scene.

So, what you need to do is override this. This is called exposure compensation.  And you can do it in any of the shooting modes I suggest here.  

What you’ll want to do is compensate by adding somewhere between one and two “stops.”  That is, set your exposure composition somewhere between +1 and +2.  See this example below.  Here’s this first pic I took with the exposure compensation set to zero.


See, the camera made a bright scene very neutral.  Next, I set the exposure compensation to just under +2.  Here’s the difference:



That’s more like it.

#2: Don’t forget about the light.

With all of the fresh snow, it’s easy to focus on just that, the snow and the background, all while throwing what you’ve learned about light out the window.  But it’s actually just as critical as ever to make sure and get enough light on your kiddo’s face, because the background is already bright.  Nothing like having a dark face against a bright background.

The good news, if it’s snowing, you’ll have a very bright, overcast sky.  Between the overcast sky and all the white, there’s light everywhere.  It’s hard to miss.  Just use the big light source.  Yet, the common culprit is shooting from the front door out into the snowy scene.  In that case, your kiddo is facing zero light.  You just won’t get the picture you want.  You need to get out in the light!

I don’t have a bad example for this, because I went outside and shot back towards the house.  But here’s an example of Kerbi looking back into the sky:



And another ๐Ÿ™‚



3. Remember a darker background too…

Obviously, our first instinct is to shoot out into all the snow we can possibly see.  But if you find a darker background, all the sudden the snowflakes appear.  Magic can happen, not only because your kid’s face will “pop” off the darker background, but so will the snowflakes.  It’s the exact same thing I talk about at length here.

Here’s some examples to illustrate ๐Ÿ™‚





Okay, that’s all for today.  I know we’re tired of the snow.  But maybe this will give you something to try tomorrow.  ๐Ÿ™‚


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3 thoughts on “3 simple tips for shooting pics of your kids in the snow.”

  1. I love the ones of Kerby in that fun hat, but I always get stuck in a dilemma. Shooting towards my house gives better light but a terrible background and I can’t seem to blur it enough to disappear. Shooting away from my house there is snow or trees or mountains or bushes, all of which can make great backgrounds, but the light is almost never as good. What should I do?

    1. I always choose light over background. What lens are you shooting with? Could a lens upgrade solve your problem? Or do you have room to pull her further away from the house (the further your subject is from the background, the easier it is to get bokeh)?

  2. Thanks for the advice on how to take pictures of your kids in the snow. I absolutely love it when it snows in my town because it always makes for amazing holiday photo shoots! With that being said, sometimes it does not snow and I wish that there was a way that you could make fake snow just for the pictures. Thanks for the help!

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