How to Do Winter Street Photography

How to Do Winter Street Photography

The ability to capture a genuine, authentic moment in time is what immediately drew me into photography. There’s a magic to photographing a scene and knowing you did it without posing or manipulating a scene.

Once I discovered that street photography encapsulated this type of photography, I was hooked. Wandering outside in public spaces, anticipating compositions and clicking the shutter button is what fulfilled me. To this day, this is my favorite and most fulfilling type of photography.

Marquette, Michigan

The characteristics that make street photography great—genuine moments, authenticity, life—are what guided me toward the path of earning a degree in photojournalism.

If you enjoy street photography, and/or don’t know a lot about it, hopefully this post will shine some light on the topic.

There are probably seemingly infinite definitions for ‘street photography’. To me, ‘street photography’ means creating photographic work, of whatever subject you choose, that isn’t posed.

Winter can be a particularly challenging time for street photography. Worry not, though, fellow street photographer, for winter is one of the best times for street photography.

Marquette, Michigan

You may be thinking,”Why?”

The reason is that it can be beautiful. When snow falls it does a wonderful job of making colors pop. Another reason that winter is great for street photography is that the winter light outside, at least in the Midwest, is usually cloudy.

Cloudy weather is wonderful for creating soft, subdued light. This quality of light is perfect for images that aren’t too full of contrast or harsh shadows.

Of course, there are challenges to photographing outside during the winter. Some of these challenges are the fact that batteries can drain quickly and your hands can get cold if you don’t have warm gloves. The solution to these problems is to have a spare battery and keep it somewhere warm, like a pocket. As far as cold fingers go, I prefer to wear flip-top gloves. With these types of gloves, you can operate your camera while making sure your hands and fingers don’t get too chilly.

Marquette, Michigan

The most important tip about how to do street photography in winter is to simply do it. Go outside and photograph whatever you’d like. When you edit your photos, study what you’ve done and make notes about what you like and what you’d change.

This analysis of your pictures will help you the next time you venture out to make pictures and will result in you making better photographs.

In photography, the simple act of doing it will make you better.

Recently, my partner and I took a trip to beautiful Marquette, Michigan. There hasn’t been much snow where we live, so the extra snow we encountered by traveling north of home was a welcome sight.

The temperatures when we were there were predicted to be really cold. That prediction was correct.

Seeing how much beautiful snow was falling, though, more than made up for any worries about cold. The phrase by Ansel Adams that,”bad weather makes good photographs” is entirely true.

We stayed downtown at the historic Landmark Inn and it was perfect. One benefit of staying at this location was that it was centrally located. We were already downtown so it was easy to walk around to interesting places.

In fact, the view from our hotel window was so wonderful that I was able to capture some images from our room. A good scene is a good scene, no matter where you are.

Marquette, Michigan

My camera setup was my Canon 6D and a 50mm lens. This is another important tip: It’s important, or at least, really helpful, to use a camera you’re familiar with. I’ve owned the original Canon 6D for more than ten years. The benefit to this is that I’ve become really adept at using the camera. It’s second nature at this point to operate the camera effectively. The result of having spent so much time with this camera is that I can react quickly if a quick photo needs to be made.

The 50mm lens is one of my favorite lenses. The view through this type of lens is as natural as can be, to me, and photographing with it is natural.

Marquette, Michigan

One great tip for improving your photography is that you should use one camera and lens for a while and notice how comfortable you become with it. The ability to not have to think about your equipment and to know how your lens will frame an image will result in you being able to think and react to photographs incredibly quickly.

Hopefully some of the simple tips in this post help you. The important thing to do is to simply go outside in the snow and become accustomed to the weather and your equipment. Stay comfortable by wearing warm clothes. The more you photograph in the winter, the more used to it you’ll become.

The most important tip is to have fun and enjoy the wonderful scenes that winter has to offer.



2 thoughts on “How to Do Winter Street Photography”

  • Great post Keith – I must have a different view of street photography to many others, and I don’t feel the need to capture random people going about their business unless there is some reason to do so. Some of the “street photographers” I have seen on social media actually seem to delight in capturing people in a moment of frustration or discomfort, and I see no need for that. But I like these images, and in an urban environment I am quite happy looking for a similar vibe! I need to practice this a little more!

    • Thanks so much for your comment Steve! I love the way you capture landscapes and people going about their daily activities. Your photos provide an intimate account of your surroundings in a very beautiful way!

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