Elizabeth Sallee Bauer hasn’t always been a family photographer. Years ago, she worked as a pastry chef, but then she and her husband moved to Wisconsin, far away from family, and she took up photography as a way to stay connected despite the distance.
Staying connected has been especially important because they have three children. “I wanted [the family] to be able to get to know the 3 kids’ personalities through the images,” she says. Quick snapshots of major milestones weren’t enough; she wanted to share more of their daily life and adventures.
Her desire to document the lives of her kids has not only allowed distant family to watch them grow up but also made her an experienced photographer, comfortable with shooting all kinds of scenes and situations. After all, her “wild children” don’t stay indoors all day or limit themselves to perfect lighting. They go out and have adventures regardless of the weather. Rain, shine, or heavy snow, they embrace it all.
The cold never seems to bother this hardy kid. Negative 12 out and he is sledding :)
In Wisconsin, that can mean months of shooting in the snow for Bauer. “We get a lot of snow here in northern Wisconsin. Last year we had a whole six months of it on the ground!”
Fortunately, she loves shooting during these snowy winter months. That’s mainly because the sun is at a low angle, creating wonderful lighting for portraits. “The light is at a beautiful, flattering angle for most of the day, so you are not as restricted to the ‘golden hours’,” she says.
Of course, winter also comes with unique challenges, from dealing with red, runny noses to getting the right exposure while shooting in the snow. Bauer offers a few tips for getting great portraits in the snow despite these challenges.
4 Tips for Beautiful Snow Portraits
Choose colorful clothes or accessories.
First off, Bauer recommends choosing brightly colored clothes that will stand out against a snowy landscape. This single choice can make a big difference in how eye-catching your portraits are. A colorful red scarf or bright yellow jacket can instantly make your photo more interesting.
“I love color and contrast,” she says. “With a nearly all-white background, you can really have fun with your colors without it seeming too busy.”
Baby it’s as cold as ice…maybe a bit colder
Spring break 2018
Kids don’t seem to mind getting snowed in
A winter view
This is our winter
Use a dark background to capture snowflakes.
If you want to capture falling snowflakes, you’ll need to find a dark background so the snowflakes will show up in your portrait. “Evergreen trees work great for this,” Bauer says. “That, combined with using a long lens, will really give your snowflakes dimension.”
She also recommends using manual focus during a snowfall or blizzard, since “most autofocus systems will have a difficult time focusing on your subject when snow is falling.” Moreover: “protect your gear!!! Plastic bags or scarves wrapped around your camera will keep it from getting too wet.”
For more tips about protecting your camera in winter, check out this list of cold weather photography gear.
First snow fall!
May you catch the best one!
It’s that magic time of year, full of light and snow!!
She was happier about the first snow than I was! Hopefully fall is not over yet!
Shoot close-ups, too.
Although winter landscapes can be stunning, resist the temptation to focus on the landscape alone. Some of the best winter portraits are close-ups with a blurred winter background. “I absolutely love close-up portraits in the snow. There is just something about the simplicity of the background and a hat that makes the child’s face really stand out.”
Unicorn girl, summoning her powers
I am such a sucker for these eyes
Winter portraits are my absolute favorite
That laugh that wrinkles your nose
As an experienced photographer of children, Bauer knows how to get great shots of kids: “Let them play! Sledding, skating, fort building, snowball fights, snowshoeing are all great activities.”
This advice could apply to adults, too, but it’s especially effective when you’re trying to get natural portraits of children. “Kids will cooperate so much with photos if you play with them and let them have a good time. Don’t make them stop being kids. Let them and actually encourage them to run wild. Just get ready to snap those moments when they pause. They become the best images.”
The snowy trail
Just for fun
New kind of yoga? Resting angel pose
The backyard sledding hill is open for business!