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Winter shooting - tips for atmospheric winter portraits

Winter is the time of romance and silence. Romantic snowy landscapes and cozy clothes evoke emotions of well-being in us. We'll give you tips on how to capture winter romance in a successful winter shoot.

The right location for a winter shoot

Finding a suitable location for a winter shoot is not difficult. However, there are a few things to keep in mind for the perfect motif. In order to create spatial depth in the white winter landscape, objects such as trees, stones or the like should be visible in the image section. Otherwise, the photo would give the impression that the model is floating in a seemingly empty, white room. The evergreen conifers or sections of the brown marbled tree trunks are particularly atmospheric in the picture. When shooting in the city, don't underestimate the influence of lights and the hustle and bustle of a crowd in the background. Both can quickly cause unrest in the picture and make the actual main motif a minor matter.

If you want to take photos in the snow, you should choose an easily accessible location and suitable clothing. Long runs through deep snow can quickly become very exhausting and cause shoes and clothing to get soaked before you reach the destination. With sturdy shoes, however, you can also wonderfully reach untouched snowy landscapes far away from the paths. Particular care must be taken when stepping on ice surfaces. Find out in advance which ice rinks are officially approved and don't take any risks.

Once the location has been determined, it is important to choose the right time for the shoot in order to make perfect use of the local conditions. Winter days are shorter, but you can use the golden sunlight for longer in the morning and afternoon hours. The golden light provides atmospheric and high-contrast images of the cold, barren winter landscape and gives the model a warm glow. From the right perspective, sunlight can even make the snow glisten.

The styling of the model

In addition to a suitable location, the right outfit with appropriate accessories is of course crucial for a successful shoot. Consult with your model and it is best to sift through the available items of clothing together. Depending on the mood of the picture, you should pay particular attention to the composition of the colors.

Use the typical Christmas colors red, green and brown to bring a festive and Christmassy mood into the picture. For the effect of the picture, include both the colors of the outfit and the accessories as well as the nuances of the conifers in the background, for example.

For a romantic and elegant winter image, muted colors such as brown and green tones, wine red and the like are particularly recommended. Always depending on the surroundings, pastel tones can also be a good choice for the model's outfit.

The picture looks particularly cozy if you use rough knitting patterns. Put the model in the limelight for the winter shoot with a pretty scarf and a matching hat. If you want it to be a bit more playful and dynamic - such as a family shoot - you can also experiment with bright colors here.

Whether family or couple shoot - if there are several people in the picture, the clothes should always be color-coordinated.

Choosing the right photographic equipment

No special equipment is required to take photos in winter, but you should still pay attention to certain things.

The winter temperatures have a negative impact on the service life of your battery. So have enough spare batteries ready, which are best worn on your body, to keep them warm. The camera, on the other hand, can be and remain cold in order to avoid the formation of condensation on the lens and viewfinder.

Tip: If you need to change the lens, store it in a plastic bag. In this way, the lens can adapt to the temperature and is protected from moisture.

If you use a tripod with metal legs, they can get very cold. To protect the material and your fingers, you can place your feet on a blanket or a piece of cardboard.

Warm drinks and a hot water bottle are useful companions on a winter shoot. An old blanket or a piece of cardboard is also useful if you want to take photos lying down or sitting. You should also have a dry microfiber cloth with you so that you can remove snowflakes or condensation without leaving streaks. As a photographer, you should definitely not do without gloves. Depending on the model of the camera, there are also gloves with which you can still operate your touchscreen screen.

When choosing lenses for portrait photography, it is never wrong to have a 35 or 50 mm fixed focal length with you. With such a fixed focal length lens, you achieve a shallow depth of field, which means that your model is even more in focus. You can find more information on specific settings in our article "Taking photos in the snow".

Stage the perfect motif

Winter shootings are suitable for portraits as well as for couple and family shootings. You can complement the motif with various accessories to enhance the atmosphere of cosiness and romance. Cups with hot drinks, small gifts that announce the Christmas season or wooden sleds are particularly suitable for this. Sledges and snowmen perfectly complement family and children's photos and evoke childhood memories. Include the environment and circumstances in the motif. People who look out from behind a tree trunk, make a snow angel or throw snow bring the viewer of the picture closer to the wintry landscape.

The closer you photograph a scene, the cozier it looks. Let the winter landscape flow more into your motif, the cold comes to the fore.

Tip: keep getting feedback on the wellbeing of your model. When shooting in the snow, you can quickly freeze and the risk of hypothermia should not be underestimated. Depending on the outside temperature and outfit, you should think carefully about possible motifs in advance and prepare the equipment as best as possible so that there are no unnecessary waiting times during the shoot. So pack a warm blanket and hot tea to warm up for in between meals. If it is still too cold, you'd better cancel and make another appointment to continue the shoot.


Whether it is a romantic couple shoot, a festive portrait or a happy family, a motif in a winter landscape is always a very atmospheric shot. The choice of color of the clothing and the choice of the image section are decisive for the image effect. But with all ambitions for the perfect winter motif, the focus should always be on the safety and well-being of everyone involved, because the cold is a factor that should not be underestimated. So prepare yourself well so that nothing stands in the way of a successful winter shoot. The results are suitable

Tags:Golden HourPeopleOutdoorPortrait PhotographyWinter romance: Tips for a successful winter shoot
Martina RaissleMartina works in the marketing department at Ifolor AG and maintains a lifestyle blog “Marrai.ch”, for which she writes travel reports, among other things. She tries to explore a new country every year and has a thing for coastlines and palaces.