Normally, family, couples and headshots are taken in the spring, summer and fall months when temperatures are more comfortable, but this session was for a time-sensitive project and I couldn't wait for warmer weather. This session was also unique because it was the first time I've been the one being photographed and the one taking photos. In both cases, the key to success was preparation.
Here's how I rocked a photo session in 10-degree weather:
I knew I wanted to do something outdoors, but I also know how dangerous the cold can be. After careful thought and planning, I moved forward with an outdoor location that is very near to where I live and is also a place I'm familiar with. This was key for two important reasons: safety and comfort.
By doing a cold-weather session just minutes from my home, I knew we'd have a safe, warm indoor location to retreat to if we needed it. While safety is most important, when it comes to photography, comfort is also a priority. No photosession can be successful if clients aren't comfortable. In this case, that meant limiting our time in below-freezing temperatures, which in turn meant I wouldn't have time to study the location beforehand. Choosing a location I was already familiar with allowed me to plan out shots ahead of time, which expedited the process and kept our time in dangerous temperatures to a minimum.
The best winter photos featuring families and couples are done without heavy winter coats. For clients who aren't used to cold-weather photography, that's a major ask. To help prepare Linda and Bob, I let them know ahead of time that I'd be asking them to remove their coats, and encouraged them to dress in layers. I had warm blankets at the ready, so they weren't completely exposed to the elements without some kind of protection.
For my own photos, I picked out two outfits ahead of time, in part so I could nail down what I wanted to wear and so I knew what to expect in terms of warmth. Both outfits included a sweater and leather jacket, but to help trap heat, I wore underarmor beneath both sweaters.
3. Warm up break
Between my own headshots and client photos, I was out in the cold for an hour and a half, and a lot of that time was without a heavy winter coat. Half way through my headshot session, and again between headshots and couples photos, I took a warm up break in my vehicle, and encouraged Gerry to do the same.
4. Fingerless gloves
Fingerless gloves are one of my favorite photography accessories. I wear them anytime there's a chill in the air. I got mine when Cliff and I were traveling in Iceland, and because they're made with sheep's wool, they're extra warm.
Photo credit: Gerry Suchy
Digital camera batteries lose their charge faster in cold weather than in moderate temperatures. I figured we wouldn't be out for an extended amount of time, but just in case, I charged all of my batteries ahead of time and packed extra in case I needed them. In addition, when DSLR and mirrorless cameras go from extreme cold to warm temperatures, condensation can build up inside of them. To help avoid that, Gerry brought along clear, plastic ziploc bags that we both placed our gear in when we were ready to come inside. The idea is that the camera will warm to the temperature inside the bag first, slowing down the warming process and helping to avoid condensation buildup.
6. Extra supplies + a warm vehicle
In addition to dressing in layers and asking my clients to dress in layers, I packed extra hats, gloves, blankets and scarves just in case we needed them. I also kept my car close and, for a time, left the heater on in case we needed an immediate retreat from the cold.