Here in Upstate New York, big blizzards that dump two feet of snow on our lawns within hours don't scare us a bit, and on this day a couple weeks ago, neither did the travel ban! We braved the roads for the very short drive to the park down the street for some fun in the snow. Oliver is four years old and SO over his mom taking photos of him, so I had to take advantage of the opportunity to get some shots of him smiling. Snow might scare other photographers (technically hard to get exposure and wet equipment are two major concerns), but I was in the mood for a challenge!
I kept my camera hidden in my coat when I wasn't shooting, but it still ended up covered. In the past I have used a gallon size freezer bag to cover the camera body, but this day I forgot to grab one. While they were tubing down the hill, I stood at the bottom and continuously focused and shot as fast as I could. Because they were moving fast, I had to use a high shutter speed. I shot at 1/500 of a second. A fast shutter does not let in much light, which in snow is not a bad thing, but I didn't want my images to be too dark. I also didn't want the background to be too crisp. I am a fan of shallow depth of field, so I set my aperture at f5. I tested my settings and then left them alone. I didn't want to miss a shot because I was messing around with my camera. I also didn't want to get run over because I wasn't paying attention! They actually were trying to crash into me, but never quite made it (whew).
Shooting a session for a client is a lot different than shooting for my personal enjoyment. I usually don't even use my professional camera when I'm taking snapshots of my family. I'm not looking for a technically great image, I just want some shots to look back on and share. There's a big difference between a creating a portrait and a taking a snapshot. When I'm out at the zoo or on vacation I just want to be a mom, not a photographer (albeit a mom with better than average camera skills). This day was different because I knew my little Nikon 1 couldn't handle the snow the way my pro camera could.
Like I said, Oliver is SO over his photographer mom. I point any camera other than my phone at him and he refuses to look. I have plenty of photographs of the side of his face or his grumpy look. I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve, but they don't work with my own kid. I had to make him forget that the camera was there. Unfortunately, that also meant that I had to step back and be the fly on the wall. I had to make him forget I was there, too. Which is another reason I don't create a lot of portraits of my family (as opposed to just snapshots). I prefer to be in on the fun.
I'm really happy with the images I captured that day, but next time, I'm keeping the camera in the car and jumping into the snow with them instead!
Cassandra Zingaro - photographer, mom, wife, owner of HeartStrings Photography and first time blogger