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Winter Photo Ideas

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

Just a Few Possibilities

Baby Photos

Engagement Shoots

Family Photos

Kid Photography

Maternity Shoots

Senior Portraits

Wedding Parties

While most people do not think of winter as an ideal time for outdoor photography, there are still a lot of great possibilities. The color palette has shifted, and there are numerous textures and patterns for beautiful, interesting compositions. Whether you are interested in new ideas for personal or professional shooting, there is considerable inspiration here for both props and backgrounds. Don't be afraid to mix and match the ideas here for single shots (i.e. trees against a winter sunset). You can also use multiple ideas for a single photo session (i.e. backgrounds with trees as well as stormy skies).

I have purposely selected lots of photo examples that do not include people so that you can more easily envision these backgrounds and props with many different individuals.

Be prepared! Double check winter photography tips to maximize your experience.


Cold Weather Photography Tips


Fog, Mist, and Frost

Early morning and late evening are ideal times for capturing fog, mist, and frost. As you never know when you'll see the perfect shot, it's best to keep your camera with you as much as possible so you don't miss that opportunity. Look for mist hanging over the water, fog settled in a valley, and frost on the grass. If the fog, mist, or frost appears muddy gray in your photos, dial up the exposure a few notches.



The trick for catching sunrises and sunsets on camera is getting the timing just right. If you can, look up sunrise or sunset times ahead of time and scout your location carefully. Keep in mind that you'll most likely have to shoot quickly, as the effects can be gone within just a few minutes. Winter is a particularly good time of year for capturing red and pink tones.


Blue Sky and Snow Contrast

Brave the cold days that boast a snowy bed contrasted brightly against a clear blue sky to get some beautiful shots of it. As winter often features bright white snow and neutral color palettes, you may find other opportunities to maximize contrast during the season, too. Be careful with the exposure. You may need to dial it up a couple notches to keep the snow a clean white shade.

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Stormy Skies

Many people immediately focus on the snow after a heavy winter snowstorm and set about capturing the impassible roads and impressive heights of the snow banks. While there is nothing wrong with this, don't forget to focus on the clouds during an impending storm, too. Additionally, if you're going to shoot a winter storm series, don't forget to include some pictures of the sky.



You can focus on bare trees or pine trees or experiment with both options. Seek out opportunities to focus on single trees or look for patterns and compositions among woods and large groves of trees. Shoot with a wide lens to capture trees within a larger context or focus in on particular details of trees for amazing macro shots.


Frost and Snowflake Macro or Close Up

There are so many aspects of winter that are wonderful to capture with macro. While you will need specific equipment and a fair amount of practice to get extremely detailed photos of snowflakes, don't let this slow you down from beginning experimentation. Start at your current photography level and build from there.

Frosty Fractals / Winter Windows Slideshow

Check out those awesome leading lines.

Check out those awesome leading lines.

Winter Recreation

If you follow appropriate care tips for your camera in cooler weather, you'll be able to capture just as many of your winter recreation excursions as your summer excursions. You can incorporate many other winter photography components into these photos, such as sunsets and trees. If you're having trouble getting action shots without noise, consult any resource for action photography. It does not have to be winter specific.

Get some winter recreation shots during your next vacation.


Winter Wildlife

Most likely you don't have to travel very far to get some great winter wildlife shots. Head to your backyard or local park and capture some macro shots of squirrels, chipmunks, local birds, and other local wildlife that are still active during the winter. Winter is also a great time to visit the zoo. The animals are active when the temperatures aren't extreme, and the area won't be very crowded.

[ - no longer active]

[ - no longer active]

Soft Light

When you're doing portrait photography, you want to avoid harsh light during outdoor sessions. Maximize the soft light available during winter mornings and evenings as well as cloudy and partly cloudy days.

The bokeh adds just the right amount of whimsy.

The bokeh adds just the right amount of whimsy.

Christmas Themes and Props

There are lots of ways to use Christmas themes and props in your photos without creating images that will be labeled as strictly holiday. This is a natural choice for winter weddings and engagement shoots, but it is not limited to this. The photo on the right is a perfect example of a subtle Christmas theme in the background.


Hire an amazing midwest photographer for your winter photography session or event.

Winter Photography Tips

More photography resources from the author.


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 13, 2014:

Thanks, Annette! I'm glad to hear that!

Annette R. Smith from Ocala, Florida on February 13, 2014:

What a beautiful hub, Rose! We rarely experience a winter wonderland in Texas, but many of your tips are perfect for taking indoor photos, and even for picture-taking during other seasons. Thanks for sharing!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 25, 2014:

I'm so glad to hear that, Peg! Thank you!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on January 25, 2014:

This is quite a comprehensive source for photography tips in all different kinds of settings. I love taking photos and these guidelines will definitely help me improve my pictures.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 21, 2013:

Thanks, Better Yourself! I agree with you about winter time photos. I'm sure that your engagement photos were beautiful! My husband and I got married four days after Christmas, and our wedding photos have a similar feel.

Better Yourself from North Carolina on November 21, 2013:

Another great hub! As much as I dislike being cold, I love wintery, snowy, and Christmas photos! We got engaged in the winter time several years back and had our engagement photos taken outside in the downtown area of our little city and there was snow, Christmas lights and décor everywhere and they were so beautiful and different than many of the shots I see these days of people in mid-summer, fields of flowers, etc. And of course this time of year certainly makes for some great artistic shots as well!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 07, 2013:

Thanks, liesl! I'm so glad to hear that. Enjoy your photography. :)

Linda Bryen from United Kingdom on June 07, 2013:

Thank you randomcreative for your useful tips on taking photos during winter. I love winter so much and so I love taking photos of the snow and anything with snow. Lovely photos.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 09, 2013:

Thanks, Fossillady! That's awesome. :)

Kathi Mirto from Fennville on March 09, 2013:

Wonderful suggestions and very well crafted with all the bells and whistles! Keep up the good work! I may be a bit older that you but seem to have a lot in common ... ie photography, teaching and of course writing! Take care, Kathi

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 05, 2013:

Thanks, rutley! That's awesome. This is the first year that I've truly embraced winter photography, and I'm loving it. Happy New Year. :)

rutley from South Jersey on January 05, 2013:

This is a great hub! I love taking winter pics also. The sun shining through the perfect icycle is one of my favorites. Happy New Year to you and yours randomcreative!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 02, 2013:

That's great, Sid! No matter where you live, you can still embrace the photo opportunities available during different seasons.

lemonkerdz, yes, for sure! I am partial to photographing during the warmer seasons, but now that I have an SLR, I'm trying to take advantage of the winter weather, too.

lemonkerdz from LIMA, PERU on January 02, 2013:

Love the wintertime and it is if you get wrapped up well a great time for getting some of your best photography shots, especially for those blue skies and moody pics. great tips thanks

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on January 02, 2013:

Thanks for this beautiful and inspiring hub. I live in Florida now, but you've got me inspired to go out for pictures of sunrises and pines, at least!

You are so very generous, sharing great info from so many sources.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 28, 2012:

Thanks so much, photostudiosupply! I'm so glad that you enjoyed this.

photostudiosupply from Rochester, New York on November 27, 2012:

Very nice hub with so many creative ideas. Beautiful pictures are used in this hub. Good job!!!

JanMaklak from Canada on November 26, 2012:

Great Post. While I've been at photography for years I never stop learning. Her is something I did last march - a tree in the fog

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 26, 2012:

That's great, Deerwhisperer! Have fun with your photography this winter.

Brenda K Krupnow from Ravenden, AR on November 26, 2012:

I love taking pictures in winter! Thanks for the new ideas and the well written hub.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 25, 2012:

Thanks, Darryl! That's awesome. Winter is a great time for that technique.

Darrylmdavis from Brussels, Belgium on November 25, 2012:

Interesting hub. Personally, I love to practice monochrome landscape shots during the winter.

Well done :-)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 01, 2012:

Thanks, alifeofdesign! That's great. Best of luck with your photography.

Graham Gifford from New Hamphire on November 01, 2012:

So many helpful tips in this hub. I enjoy capturing images of nature and many of these tips will help me in the future to take better quality photos.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 31, 2012:

Thanks, Jeannie! You're right that it's hard to beat a snowy scene for a photo.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on October 31, 2012:

What pretty photos! I agree that winter can be a great time for photos. A snowy scene is always a beautiful option for photos. Great hub and voted up!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 31, 2012:

I agree with you about the frost, fog, and snow. Thanks, Om! I'm glad that you enjoyed this. The squirrel picture is really something else.

Om Paramapoonya on October 31, 2012:

I love taking pictures of rain, but fog, frost and snow have their own charm as well. Thanks for these creative ideas and tips. That picture of a squirrel looks so cute!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 27, 2012:

That's great, Eddy! Best of luck to you.

I hear ya, Cyndi! I do my best to embrace each season as it comes, and photography is just one more way to do that. Enjoy your photo taking this winter.

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on October 27, 2012:

I am totally enjoying the seasons with my own photography. I loved everything in the summer, now I'm doing fall stuff and I'm really looking forward to winter. These ideas are awesome! Thanks for sharing. :)

Eiddwen from Wales on October 27, 2012:

Wow what a gem ;I have only begun to develop photography as an interest of mine.

This hub will be so useful so I save as well as vote up.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 26, 2012:

Thanks, Steph! You're right about the lighting possibilities for winter.

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on October 26, 2012:

Great photography ideas and tips. I love taking photos year round, but Winter is especially fun because of the interesting lighting. Best, Steph

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 26, 2012:

That's great, Rosie and grandmapearl!

Connie Smith from Southern Tier New York State on October 26, 2012:

randomcreative, these are wonderful ideas. I will definitely be braving the cold to produce some interesting wintertime shots. Thanks so much for sharing this great information. Voted Up, Beautiful and Interesting and pinned!

Audrey Surma from Virginia on October 26, 2012:

Beautiful pictures, inspiring me to go out and take some this winter!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 26, 2012:

Thanks so much, Carter! I really appreciate that feedback.

Mary from Cronulla NSW on October 26, 2012:

This is a stella hub Random...heaps of great hints on how to capture better photos as well as fantastic lay out with all the added extra bit's...well done VUUAB& shared...cheers

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 26, 2012:

Thanks, Jennifer!

rfmoran, it'll be here before we know it! Have fun with your photography this winter.

Russ Moran - The Write Stuff from Long Island, New York on October 26, 2012:

As winter fast approaches in the Northeast, I find this hub a resource for recording some soon to be beautiful shots. Thanks for the great info and great photos.

Jennifer Sides from Edmonton on October 25, 2012:

Excellent ideas!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 25, 2012:

Nice! Occasional is the right amount. :) So glad that you enjoyed this.

carol stanley from Arizona on October 25, 2012:

I love winter and snow. We occasionally get a little here. The photos are lovely--great job. Voted UP.

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