young boy wearing a gray snowball hat snuggles his Arctix Fox stuffy on a snowy day at a park in Waltham, MA

Four Tips For Snowy Family Photos in Boston this Winter

We had our first snow of the season here in the Boston area a week or so ago! It was the weirdest storm because the snow totals varied so widely from town to town. Boston proper, Medford, and a few other cities didn’t get any snow at all until later in the day. Towns further west (Metrowest and beyond) already had a foot or so by mid-day. Here in my neighborhood in Waltham, we only got 3-4 inches. Across town they apparently got closer to a foot! So wild. Anyway, I knew I wanted to get out into that snow for pictures, whether it was with one of my clients waiting for a snowy day or my own family. I made it out there for a short time with my six-year-old, and these are the tips I have for you if you’re a photographer planning on shooting in the snow some time soon!

little boy runs with his Arctic Fox stuffy and red sled down a hill at Waltham's Paine Estate

Wait for Very Light Snow

I think we can probably all agree that photos taken while it’s actively snowing are absolutely magical! If you’re going to shoot in the dead of winter, you probably even *want* it to be snowing during your next client session. The problem is, snow makes it really hard for cameras to find focus. Sooo, I would strongly advise avoiding shooting in the snow unless it has stopped or is snowing very lightly. When my son and I went sledding during this storm, the snow was coming down at a light clip. It worked out okayish in terms of getting enough in focus, but my equipment was getting wet faster than I thought it would. After 15 minutes, I called it a day. Which leads to my next point…

young boy wearing a gray snowball hat snuggles his Arctix Fox stuffy on a snowy day at a park in Waltham, MA

Take Care of Your Equipment

If you plan to shoot outside a lot this winter, you might want to invest in some camera protection. I used to own this camera cover from Amazon, but have since lost it and need a new one. I also suggest not swapping lenses if it’s snowing at all. You won’t want to risk any moisture getting on the camera’s sensor. If you have two camera bodies, just use both and then you won’t have to swap lenses at all. This is something family photographers should consider doing year-round anyway!

young boy pulls red sled up a hill at Waltham's Paine Estate

young boy sledding down a hill on a red sled at the Paine Estate in Waltham

Use the *Right* Equipment

Speaking of equipment,  I have a lens recommendation for you today! I am a big fan of  longer lenses that add beautiful compression to images. This is something that I believe can really elevate a photographer’s work in any season. BUT I think it’s especially helpful in the winter. It not only will help blur out anything unsightly in the dead of winter, but can help create a magical snow globe effect! An 85 mm or 70-200 mm would definitely do the trick. All images in this blog post were taken with Nikon’s f/1.4 105 mm lens.

two portraits of a little boy snuggly his stuffy in the snow

Think Carefully About Color and Contrast

If you’re newer to photography, you might not know that cameras can have trouble finding focus when there isn’t much contrast. Obviously when things are covered in a blanket of snow, there isn’t much contrast! So think about going somewhere with things like pine trees, buildings, stone walls, etc. You can also achieve this with the right clothing, BUT you’ll have to be careful. I’d strongly suggest steering your clients away from two colors in the snow: blue and red. Snow photographs really blue as is, and will only be worse if you have multiple subjects in blue throwing more of that color onto the snow. Blue almost always needs to be de-saturated in post on snowy days anyway, and then you’ll be stripping color from your clients’ clothes if they are wearing blue. Red is another tough one that loves to throw color casts, and having it next to any sort of white can be tricky, so just steer clear of it :).

bw image of little boy on his sled at Waltham's Paine Estate

Thinking about a snowy day session this winter? Feel free to reach out here.


Oh hey! I’m Melissa, a Boston family & newborn photographer, but I like to refer to myself as a toddler-whispering, child-taming, photographic ninja.