How to shoot comfortably in the cold


My favorite season to shoot in is winter. Not only is the light gorgeous, but I mean it when I say the colder it is, the happier I am. I’ve been outside most of the winter since I was a kid – and there were a lot of 15 mile skis with my family when I was growing up. I had quite a bit of energy (that’s putting it mildly…), and I think my parents just wanted me out of the house. Ha!

After 12 years of focusing on winter photography (pun intended), I’ve learned to apply some of the knowledge I learned about being outside in the cold growing up, to photography. These frigid weather hacks keep me warm, and my gear working.

1) Say no to cotton.

I cannot stress this enough.  When you are out shooting, you are moving around a lot and sweating. Cotton doesn’t wick at all, so you are going to be clammy and icky, and chilled to the bone. Avoid any cotton touching your skin. Merino wool is your friend, and is no longer the itchy, uncomfortable clothing from your childhood.

For your feet, the best thing you can have is merino wool socks, and lots of room in your shoes. The room in your shoes allows air to flow, and actually keeps your feet warmer. I’m a big fan of IceBreaker socks.

For your upper body, staying warm does not mean you have to be bulky. For women, merino wool cami’s are the key to keeping warm, but not feeling like the Michelin Man… I have one for everyday of the week.

(By the way, if you are visiting Bayfield this winter, both Howl and Brownstone on Hwy 13 are my go – to’s for gear.  Between the two stores I have everything I need.)

2) Move your arms.

Make big circles like a little kid. I’m serious. You’ll look ridiculous, but it will force the blood to your extremities, and keep your fingers from suddenly losing feeling. I spend 8 – 10 hours a day outside shooting sometimes. Believe me, it works. They’ll make fun of you, but you’ll be warm ;).

3) Keep your camera a constant temperature.

Do not, I repeat, do NOT, bring your camera inside a house or car to warm it up. If you do that, you actually risk freezing the shutter or causing damage to other parts of the camera. If you bring it inside, the camera will fog up, and then when you take it outside again, that condensation will freeze. Keep your camera a consistent temperature by leaving it outside at all times. If the battery drains, switch it out with a new & warm one (see #4).

4) Buy hand warmers in bulk.

Hand warmers can be used for a gazillion different things, but I use them mostly to keep an extra battery or two warm in my pockets. You can never, ever have too many (batteries or hand warmers).

So – there are some of my favorite ways to stay warm and productive in the beauty of winter.  Avoid cotton and keep a warm battery on hand, and you should be well on your way to being happier outside.  (Also – I’d love if you’d share this with anyone you think might appreciate the tips!)


How to take photograph in the cold

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