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Let’s talk about photographing in winter

I take a limited number of photography gigs in the winter months (defined as mid-November through end of March), particularly in NYC and the Northeast, because of the weather. Most photographers during this time call it the “off-season”. Winter is not optimal – lighting, weather, and lack of leaves are all factors that lead to less-beautiful-than-normal photographs than what is normally found in my portfolio. If you have no flexibility or you are from out of town, then of course I will work with you to do a session during this time, but I do want to set some expectations upfront with some example images.

Winter light is more blue

Something about winter light – the longer shadows, the lower position of the sun in the sky, results in typically a more blueish tinge to the photographs taken in the same location. These two photographs are both taken with similar positions of the sun, but left is winter, right is summer

Weather is much more cold and unpredictable in winter

For the most part of an hour to 90-minute shoot, you are expected not to be wearing a jacket. That is great in the summer, but a very cold, and uncomfortable prospect in the winter. With busy schedules, there is a higher likelihood of a snowstorm, heavy rain, of possibly delaying or canceling a shoot altogether. For those who still end up doing a winter shoot, either this means powering through, or, stopping often for a warm coffee break. Being uncomfortable also means that you won’t enjoy the experience of being photographed as much, and it shows through on your face. Either way, this results in fewer usable shots during a winter session. As my dear friend and fashion blogger Deniz knows, we only lasted about 20 minutes during the winter shoot, but shot for hours in the summer.

If you choose, for example, waterfront locations for the winter, you will especially get very, very windy conditions. These are so windy that even the best of hairspray can’t control your hair. So if you want the scenery, then you will have to sacrifice perfect hair. Now don’t get me wrong, I personally love a windblown hair look to a picture, but I know a lot of ladies don’t want their perfectly done hair messed up. It’s not something I can control or make better for you as a photographer, so wind in the winter is a trade-off to consider when doing winter shoots

Winter vegetation looks the most “dead”

Nothing grows in the winter. No super green leaves, no spring flowers or fall foliage. Instead there is gray, blue, and bare branches. I can’t even guarantee pretty snow most of the time. So, I conclude – you CAN ask for a winter photoshoot, but you need to have / adjust the expectations that it will be less than ideal.

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