Many photographers seem to have a bad habit that as soon as winter cold weather comes around, they disappear for the season and in so doing they miss many opportunities for capturing great shots. They also miss the opportunity for honing skills like night photography etc. In this article I hope to encourage you to get out and also give you the tools that you need to actually get out and stay warm and enjoy yourself in the process.

Tips for Outdoor Winter Photography

Stay Warm

Protect Yourself

The most important item that you have to figure out right away is, how do you stay warm so that you can enjoy yourself while you’re out shooting on very cold days? Staying warm, dry and comfortable is the secret to enjoying outdoor adventures in the winter.

Always dress in layers and either use wool or some of the great modern high-tech fibers to dress appropriately to stay warm.

How to photograph Christmas Lights and EnergyMake sure you have great boots and even go ahead and put toe warmers in your boots. Make sure you have great socks that are warm and breathe well. You must keep your feet warm so that you are comfortable for up to several hours.

Be sure you wear a breathable sweater made out of wool or modern materials. While you are out shooting you will warm up and you will probably sweat and you need to be able to stay dry or you will be getting very cold later.

Make sure you have great gloves possibly with a removable index finger so that you can easily shoot.

Whenever it is below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, I always have hand warmers in my gloves. I end up taking off my gloves and putting them on and taking them off several times throughout the outing so it’s great to have the hand warmers inside the glove so that the gloves are quite warm when your hand goes back in. Your hands must stay warm and dry so that you’re able to manipulate your camera and change the settings while staying warm and comfortable throughout the adventure.

Protect Your Gear

Tips on Outdoor Winter Photography Camera BatteryMost cameras are relatively well sealed these days so for the most part you don’t have to worry about them getting cold or moisture going in to them. Just be sure not to drop them in a snow bank or anything like that.

You do have to worry about how the cold affects your battery. Your battery will run down much more quickly when it’s cold. So either have backup batteries or make sure you have a larger battery pack.

I have been shooting in the winter for years now and I have never damaged any camera while out in the snow and cold so unless you drop your camera in the snow bank you’ll probably be quite safe.

Capture All the Amazing Lights

One of the really great things about winter is that the days are much shorter. What that means is you don’t have to get up so early to catch the sunrise and you don’t have to stay up so late to catch the sunset. Or on the other hand the city lights come up much earlier in the evening so you can capture all of these gorgeously decorated scenes without waiting too late into the evening.

Bob and Julie Little the lighted oak tree in bloomington MN   Tips for Outdoor Winter Photography

Bob and Julie Little have lit this majestic oak tree in Bloomington MN since 2001

During the holiday season there are so many more lights to be seen with private homeowners, cities and communities decorating. Basically when you are out photographing in the winter, there is eye candy everywhere to be captured. It’s a photographer’s dream.

Fewer People Getting in Your Scenes

So right at the time of the year when there’s all these great lights to be captured, being its cold there are fewer people out and about.  Therefore, you have a great opportunity to capture all these amazing lights with fewer people getting in your scenes.

Mears Park St Paul Tips for Outdoor Winter Photography

Festive Christmas lights in Mears Park in St Paul, MN

You end up not waiting long to get a clear view of the gorgeous scene. It’s a win-win for the photographer.

Capture Great Local Events

This time of year there are all kinds of great winter festivities going on especially if you’re in a northern climate city. Many cities have special celebrations planned to engage their community and help keep the people sane during the long winter nights.

Rice Park St Paul MN Tips for Outdoor Winter Photography

Winter Lights in Rice Park in St Paul MN

 So again being there are fewer people out and fewer photographers out, you have a great opportunity to capture a unique image from these wonderful events.   Being you are out capturing these events, the sponsors in their need to market their events, might request use of photos.  That is exactly what happened to me recently.

Crashed Ice Cathedral of St Paul Tips for Outdoor Winter Photography

Cathedral of St Paul getting ready for Red Bull Crashed Ice Event

Every few years Red Bull sponsors an extreme sporting event called Crashed Ice at the Cathedral of St Paul in Saint Paul Minnesota. I knew that event would be happening soon and I knew the construction was beginning for the track for the event. I was going to be in the area so I made a point of stopping and capturing some images during the evening of the progress of the construction. The state of Minnesota has a travel Bureau called Explore Minnesota. Explore Minnesota contacted me partially because of my activity on Instagram and they asked if they could feature me across their social media outlets for an upcoming promotion. Well, of course I said yes, and now I have this great new image also that would be perfect for statewide promotion and explore Minnesota promotion.

Everything came together perfectly because I was willing to get out and capture the image. Being there are fewer photographers out this time of year opportunities are greater for those willing to get out.


So I hope this article encouraged you to get the items that you need together so that you can get out and photograph even in the brutally cold winter.  I assure you, you will be well rewarded for your efforts.

If you have more questions don’t hesitate to ask. Our job is to help you learn and grow and improve your skills so you can have much more successful photographic adventures.

Other Resources:

Check out the Six Part Video Series “Photography ~ How to Take Great Pictures“.  That will help you dramatically improve your photography.

Remember your first 1 million pictures are your worst so get out and shoot so that you can learn by experimenting. There is no way to make mistakes or do it wrong, this is all learning by experimenting so have fun and shot.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Be sure to stay up to date with all of our latest and greatest developments by subscribing to our insightful newsletters. By subscribing you will be entered to win prizes in our great contests. Subscribe over on the right of the page!

Until next time, get out and capture the adventure!!


These images and many more are available for purchase.

Buy Now Minneapolis Corporate Art

Find the complete online gallery here: Wayne Moran Fine Art Photography


Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website