What Makes Winter Family Pictures Stand Out

While the cold winter weather may tempt you to go back to your fireplace, you shouldn’t waste the opportunity to make exceptional winter family pictures. The snowy white landscapes have some special magic which makes them the perfect scenery for photos with your loved ones. Parks and other open areas are empty. You can let yourself loose and embrace the moment to take nice spontaneous photos of joy in the snow.

Make your winter family pictures stand out

You can use the wonderful winter scenery to freshen up your family album and even make fun Christmas cards to share with friends. Arm yourself with some good winter family picture ideas, learn some winter photography basics and get ready to make some amazing photographs.

Take good care of your camera

The extremely low temperatures and moisture that are typical throughout the winter season can affect the performance of your camera. Moreover, they can cause some serious damage to your equipment and ruin your plans for a day of fun and photography with your family. Pack your camera in a bag or a backpack that you won’t have to put down in the snow while taking photos.

Just be careful and don’t keep your camera too warm before taking photos outside. If there is a great difference in temperatures when you take out the camera, the lenses will fog up and ruin your photos.

The only part of your photography equipment you should keep warm are the batteries. They tend to drain fast when exposed to low temperatures. You can keep them in a pocket where they can be close to your body heat. If you are using lithium ion batteries, you may not need to worry about this. However, it is wise to carry some extra batteries with you, just in case.  

Get your camera settings right

When taking photos in the snow, it’s important to keep an eye on the white balance since the snow reflects the light. In order to deal with this, use the scene mode settings for photographing in snow, or manually adjust the white balance. Take a few test photos until you make sure that the snow looks naturally white. You’ll also need to adjust the shutter speed and aperture.

If you shoot in auto mode, your camera’s light meter will detect the snow as a gray tone. If there’s an automatic exposure compensation feature on your camera, you can try setting it to +1 or +2. You can also set the exposure using a gray card.


Since you’ll be photographing your family in the snow, you need to be careful not to over-expose the people in the photos. You’ll have to choose what is more important to properly expose for each photo – the subject or the snowy background. If your focus is on the people, try to get closer to them.

You can check the exposure by taking a reading of your hand before taking the photo. If your skin tone and the amount of light are the same as the ones of the subject you’re photographing, it means that you have the right exposure level.

Another important thing you need to have in mind when taking your winter family pictures is to shoot in RAW format, instead of JPEG format. RAW pictures are bigger in size, but they are much easier to fix in post-production. Don’t try to save on memory space by deleting photos that seem bad on the camera’s LCD screen. Oftentimes, photos that look bad on camera look much better on larger screens. Just get a bigger memory card and take high-quality RAW photos.

Make the most out of natural light

Natural light is every photographer’s best friend. In winter, it’s best to take photos during the morning and evening. The sun is lower in the sky and it provides a wonderful light that adds a touch of warmth to your photos. Having photo-shoots around the start and the end of the day will help you eliminate the harsh shadows that appear when you take photos in direct sunlight.


Try taking your winter family photos at sunrise or sunset if you have the chance. This way, you can take advantage of the wonderful colors the sun creates, especially at dawn – there are truly spectacular pink and red tones. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to shoot quickly because these effects disappear very fast.  

Include the blue winter sky

You can get some really nice winter photos of your family if you combine the white snow and the sky in the background. Just be careful with the exposure and take photos with simple compositions in order to bring out the contrast. If you want to make sure that the snow won’t come out as gray, apply positive EV compensation.

You can take some nice photos even if you don’t catch a bright and sunny winter day. If it’s not too cold, go out with your family and use the dramatic sky for a spectacular composition. Use a graduated filter and experiment with the balance in post-production.

Add some colors

Remind your family to choose clothes and accessories in colors that will stand out from the whiteness of the snow. Hats, scarves, gloves, and jackets can really make or break your winter photos. Dress in bright and rich colors, and try to coordinate them to make a cohesive family portrait. You can also bring some colorful props such as sleds or blankets to brighten up your photos.


Another good solution to avoid pale white photos is to shoot among trees and bushes, and use the colors of nature. Experiment with the scenery and take some time to edit the photos afterwards. That way, you will get the best out of them.

You can also try shooting macros. Capture the snowflakes that land in your subject’s hair and clothes. Take a photo of your child’s red cute nose. Ask your family members to stand still and experiment with taking macros of various details on their faces and clothes. You can also combine details from nature with your family members. Icicles, frost, tree leaves and branches are only some of the ideas you can take advantage of.   

As soon as you get your wonderful winter family photos, don’t forget to store and share them with your loved ones via Sherish. Make the most out of your winter family photo album and spread the joy.

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