children's portrait tips for in the cold

Brrr!! It’s definitely cooling down out there, with that arrives difficulty if you still want to get great children’s portraits outdoors. With a bit of planning and preparation, however, you can still get fantastic photos of your kids in the chill.

Tip One: Scope Out Cold/Warm Locations

Find a few locations that offer great scenes for shooting children’s portraits that are adjacent to somewhere you could go to warm up. If you know there’s a great coffee house just around the corner where you can all get a cup of hot chocolate afterwards it makes the cold a bit more manageable.

If you’re off and away at the beach, a park, or somewhere else where it is cold and a bit remote, bring a few extra blankets and a thermos of something warm. The last thing you want is cold, miserable kids.

Tip Two: Use Warm Props

There’s nothing saying that you shouldn’t help kids stay warm as well as adding a bit of fun to your kid’s photography session. Colorful blankets, scarves, hats, mittens – all these things can be incorporated into your photos while helping to maintain a reasonable temperature.

children's portraits in the coldTip Three: Invest in Winter Wardrobes

While you probably don’t want to drop your hard-earned cash on a cute pea coat that will only be worn for photo shoots and special occasions, with some planning you can find a few great (warm) pieces to use in your children’s photography. Check out thrift stores for cute jackets, ask friends if they have some pieces you can borrow, or look into online clothing rentals (yes, it’s a thing!). Add a few hats and scarves of different colors so you can try different looks, and you’ll be set for a successful kid’s portrait session!

Tip Four: Find Color

Late fall and winter can be a bit drab, particularly if you’re working with an overcast sky. Throwing some color in via your kid’s wardrobe can help, but you can also be on the lookout for color in your scene. A colorful wall, vehicles, fire hydrants, bridges, etc. can all provide a splash of interest to life up a children’s portrait.

Tip Five: Fake Warmth

Cold weather portraits during the day can be a bit…cold. You might have to play with white balance settings on your camera to get more natural-looking skin tones. Start with the cloud white balance setting first, then go from there.

Of course, if you’re taking photos really late in the day when the sun is low on the horizon you might have the opposite effect (orange-y faces). Again, work with white balance settings to find one that gives you a more natural portrait.

kid's portraits in the coldTip Six: Watch Exposure

Once the snow starts to fall, you’ll have some fantastic opportunities for lovely outdoor kid’s photos, but the snow does present another challenge. Because snow reflects so much light, your camera will tend to underexpose to compensate, which can lead to grey-toned scenes. You’ll have to increase the exposure to get bright white snow.

Tip Seven: Do Double Duty!!

You’re already outdoors, have everyone dressed up, and your camera is ready – why not take the opportunity to take a photo for your annual Christmas card? You can include a few holiday props (Santa hats, a small fake Christmas tree) or just find an evergreen tree in the woods and hang a few decorations!

That’s enough tips for preparing kids and scenes, keep reading for some tips for you and your camera!

cold weather kid's photo tipsBonus Tip 1: Cameras Hate the Cold Too

It’s all well and good to get you and your kids ready for a photography session in the cold, but don’t forget about your camera! Here are a few things to consider:

  • Batteries drain faster in the cold. Bring a spare or two and keep them in an inside pocket of your jacket so they stay warm.
  • Bring a few plastic bags and rubber bands if there’s a chance of rain or snow.
  • Avoid changing lenses in the cold, moisture can get into the camera body, freeze, and cause damage.
  • Give your camera and lens a chance to warm up slowly after photographing in the cold. Place the body and lenses in separate, sealed plastic bags before they come inside. This allows condensation to collect on the bag, rather than the camera/lens.

Bonus Tip 2: Plan to be Comfortable

There’s nothing worse than finding a great scene and having happy kids, only to feel cold and miserable yourself. Wear a few layers and have gloves that allow you to work the controls (some photographers carry a second set of gloves to put on between shots when the temperature is really uncooperative).

There you go! In case you want to see a few examples of great kid’s photography in cold climates, check out this Pinterest board to get started.

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