We live in a crazy, frozen wasteland more than half of the year and have some of the harshest climates to contend with. Just a month ago we were hunkering down from the January storm that boasted 120 mph gusts of bitter wind. Before that, a couple feet of snow. And before that? -20 degrees! Sub-zero temperatures, hurricane force winds, sleet and snow and ice all make for quite the Alaskan adventure – all winter long – every single year.
It’s not a huge surprise that so many clients choose our fleeting summer months to hire us for photos. But let’s be real: when you live in Alaska, the majority of life happens in the cold. And it’s still worth photographing, especially when it looks like you live in a snow globe. There is something magical, beautiful, nostalgic and ok, kinda heart-warming about winter sessions, even if your nose hairs are frozen and you can’t feel your toes.
Alaskans all think they are badass. And I mean, we are. BUT. We are still human and get cold. Sometimes clients show up to sessions prepared to beat their chests and mentally tough it out, but the reality is that noses still run, kids still cry, and skin turns blotchy and purple no matter your level of badassery. It really is less about being amazing and more about science. We have been doing this a lot of years now, collected a little wisdom along the way, and have compiled a list of our best tips for surviving the less comfortable months in front of the camera. Plus a winter photo over-share. Because, how to choose?
- EXPECT KIDS TO BE KIDS – Kids don’t really care about your photos. And kids are honest. The younger they are, the more honest they are, and they will not fake looking warm and happy in a photo just because you said to. The first step is for you to not assume they can hack it. I can’t tell you how many clients have shown up to a February session with their girls in cute little dresses with bare legs. Whenever that happens, the poor kids look completely miserable in the photos – because they are! If you are shooting in winter, then please dress them for the occasion. Save the sundresses and open-toed shoes for summer.
- HAND-WARMERS – Costco and Three Bears carry these in mega-packs and you should definitely bring them along. It makes a huge difference, especially to kids when you can hand them a toasty little hand-hold. The best part? They aren’t just for hands! Stick those suckers in your bra, your pockets, your boots. Your body will thank us.
- LAYERS – No one is gonna know you are wearing your ugly ‘ole long-johns under those cute new jeans, so you might as well layer up. 95% of our brides (even in the summer) wear leggings and hiking boots under their sparkly gowns and no one knows the difference!
- PLAN FOR BREAKS – If it is a particularly cold day, we will likely have one or two car warm-ups. This gives you all some time to de-thaw, blow your noses, and blast the warm air. It’s a great idea to bring some warm cider or coffee to help everyone feel cozy. (Just don’t spill – ha!) Winter sessions take a little longer for this reason, but the reprieve is well worth the time.
- ACCESSORIZE – The first giveaway that you are cold: your hands. Fingers turn red and wrinkled. Gloves, scarves, hats can add a splash of color to a blue-grey world AND double as the extra warmth you need.
- DON’T FORGET THE PARKA – Even if you don’t plan on shooting in your winter coat, bring it or a cozy blanket for in-between sets. There will be lots of time during your session that we will be walking from point A to B or that we are shooting individuals. This is a good opportunity to add some temporary layers and warm up.
- BE FLEXIBLE – We live in Alaska, ok? She can be moody and stubborn. If the temps are falling to sub zero or we have a wicked windstorm, we will reschedule, same as we would in the summer if it pours rain. Being flexible is a requirement for outdoor photography. Especially in a climate such as ours. Patience is key and we promise to get you the best photos we can – even if that means waiting for a lull in the weather pattern.
- TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER – We have done this a very long time and have a pretty good idea of what works great in photos, do your best to prepare for winter conditions, but then leave the rest to us! Ultimately all these suggestions are because we want you to relax, play with your kids, make-out in front of mountains, double-over-in-laughter and completely forget that you are freezing your hiney in front of a camera. We have all kinds of tricks to help distract the kids, and make winter FUN. We got you!