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Photographing people in Milwaukee snow days

Cross Country Skiing
Photography by Trisha Comardo

Milwaukee photographers, as any other photographers, have our style of photography that we enjoy more than others whether that be landscapes, architecture, or even people or event photography. Each of these styles will have different camera, lense and lighting parameters that need to be taken into consideration when photographing. Some helpful tips for landscapes can be found in my previous article here. Many of the hints for the landscape photography can be used for photographing architecture, events and even people. Below are a few other tips that are good to keep in mind when photographing people during Milwaukee’s snow days.

With landscape photography that involves mostly snow, the suggestion to over-expose to compensate for the brightness of the snow also means that if you are photographing for people, they too will be overexposed and washed out. Remember when composing and setting up your shot of anything, you want to know what you want to be your main subject in your photo and that subject is what you want to focus for and light meter for. In order to get proper metering for people photography, you need to be able to meter on them by getting right up to them, meter the light that is on them and set your camera parameters accordingly. You can then move to where you want to shoot from and recompose for the shot. If you are shooting sports or action shots and can not get in close to the person for a reading, take a shot of your hand or someone close to you that may have the same type of lighting projected on them.

Schedule your outdoor winter portrait shoots during the early morning or afternoon and evening dusk hours. Shadows cast during these hours can add some interesting views to your portraits. The lighting and colors available at these hours can provide a completely different mood to your subjects. Moonlight sessions can add a complete new perspective to your portraits with romantic lighting and reflections of the light bouncing off of the brightly lit blanket of snow. As in any other portrait session, move your subject around to get different moods of lighting as it bounces off the snow.

Use fill flash when photographing people or wildlife to help in eliminating too much contrast and/or shadows on the your main subject. Add a bright colorful object of attire or prop to provide interest to a portrait that might otherwise be dominated by the pure white of a snowy ‘backdrop’. Slow the shutter speed down if it is actually snowing to add a dreamy effect to the photos.

To get the proper perspective on your portrait subject may mean that you have a lot of sky in the background or other objects in the foreground. To eliminate sky, take the shot from a higher perspective such as on a step ladder or nearby stairway. This may also help in eliminating some of the unwanted objects in the foreground.

Add some action shots with snowball fights. Have your subject participate in some winter sports such as skating, skiing, sledding. Winter photography requires over-exposing to a certain extent to even out the contrasty areas and therefore will allow a little more speed on the shutter to help stop action where needed.

Be sure your batteries are fully charged. Grab your tripod and rain gear if needed for the snowy sessions. Check out your photo session site ahead of time. Find helpful hints for photographing in the cold here. Most of all…make it fun.

To get instant updates of new articles by Trisha Comardo, please subscribe at the top of this article. Other articles by Trisha Comardo can be found at Milwaukee Hiking Examiner and Milwaukee Nature Examiner.


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