So, it’s the dead of winter, and you’re thinking “it’s too cold/wintery/snowy/whatever-y to go outside and take photos now! Nobody in their right mind would take photos now, right?” Before you give up, and put the camera away until springtime, why don’t you try to make the most out of old man winter? Here are some of my suggestions on enjoying the winter season while it lasts.
Top 10 Ideas for Winter Shooting
Number 10 – Dogs in the snow. Even if you don’t have a dog, go and visit a dog park or find somebody out in a hat, coat, and scarf walking a poodle. You know they must live just around the corner now, so why not go out and find them? So you don’t have snow? No worries. This is also a great time to get the dog out in the earth a bit. The cooler temps might allow the dog to run around a bit more and you might get some different “looks” from your summertime dog-centric images.
Number 9 – People indoors. Always wanted to learn how to bounce a flash off the ceiling or yellow walls in your apartment? Why not do it now? This is a great time to shoot people indoors. Have a dinner party and go wild or just invite a photo-friendly friend over for some modeling. Informal portraits often happen this time of year so make the most of it.
Number 8 – Trees in the snow. Snow and trees make for some beautiful images. I know it can be a bit of a cliche, but go ahead and do it anyway. Make your own cliches and see what you get.
Number 7 – Birds in the snow (migrating birds.) Winter is a time you can often catch birds migrating down to or back from the south. They move around, those birds do, and you might just find some different birds than you “usually” do if you get out some this time of year. I know it’s cold in the early morning hours but why not try for some interesting birds this season?
Number 6 – Bare trees. This one is good even if it does not snow where you live. There is a lot of symbolism and substance to be found photographing bare trees. This is also a great time of year to study the structure and form of trees, since the leaves are gone, you can actually “peek” at what lies beneath. So, go ahead, get your bare tree on! You won’t be sorry. Who needs leaves when you can have wonderful branches reaching up to the sky?
Number 5 – Urban life, especially at night. The cold weather can work in your favor here. Nobody else wants to be trapped outside in it either, so this is a good time of year to find empty streets with fewer pedestrians. This can make for great “extra empty” urban landscapes. Go ahead, shoot those pretty buildings at 3 am. You just might find yourself alone and enjoying it all that much more. Bundle up and get on out there if you can, to make the most of these empty streets.
Number 4 – Australia or the other side of the world, where there is no snow. Now, I know this might be a bit of a challenge, as not everybody can afford a plane ticket but it’s, in fact, not snowing *everywhere.* There are always places where summer abounds and, if you must, if you just *must* get away, there always is this, sort of nuclear option. Hawaii remains warm this time of year too and often doesn’t require a passport if you are situated in the US. No matter where you live, this might be a good time of the year to go tropical.
Number 3 – Indoor portraits. This might also be a good time to setup a home studio and try some portrait sittings. It’s cool enough outside that the heat of the lights won’t bother your subjects and you might be able to make a little bit of extra cash by setting up a cool backdrop in a spare room and shooting away for folks who want some formal or family portraits.
Number 2 – Bus/Train stations. This one might not be so obvious but, at places of “mass transit,” you’re more likely to find more people mulling about, on account of the cold weather outside. Not to mention there are hats, scarf and coat images, plus umbrellas that always look good on film (or digital.) Not to mention you’re a lot less likely to get hassled by the powers that be, because you can always use the excuse, “Sorry, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to take pictures. I was just killing time waiting in the warm for my train/bus/cab/whatever to arrive.” Works every time, it really does, so go ahead and hunt that lady in a red coat or follow that shadowy man hiding beneath his umbrella.
Number 1 – Empty beaches. This time of year, nobody is out “sunning” so you might have a lot easier time getting those wonderful empty beach shots, not to mention the weather often creates wonderful waves and tides. You might even get lucky and get something like snow on the beach. How cool is that? So, go ahead, get beached! It can be fun, even in the dead of winter.
Some runners up:
Coffee/tea/hot cocoa/soups – these make for interesting shots this time of year too. When it’s cold outside, somebody’s always trying to sip something warm inside, so why not shoot away! It’s a great time of year to get these images and you often don’t have to hunt too far or too long to find them.
Kids in the snow – just like dogs and trees, kids in the snow can make for great images. Go out, have a snowball fight, and see what kind of shots you can get.
Now that I’ve given you a few ideas, I’ll hope you’ll get out there and shoot before spring comes along and takes these all away. Besides, if you have made a New Year’s resolution to shoot more, this is a good time to renew your interest in photography and brush up on those skills before the spring gives way to those pretty flowers and wonderful scenic images we all want to capture. So, why not? Get out there and take a bite out of old man winter! He’s not all that bad.
Until next time…