Beautiful Snow Portraits by Elizabeth Sallee Bauer

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer hasn’t always been a family photographer. Years ago, she worked as a pastry chef, but then she and her husband moved to Wisconsin, far away from family, and she took up photography as a way to stay connected despite the distance.

Staying connected has been especially important because they have three children. “I wanted [the family] to be able to get to know the 3 kids’ personalities through the images,” she says. Quick snapshots of major milestones weren’t enough; she wanted to share more of their daily life and adventures.

Her desire to document the lives of her kids has not only allowed distant family to watch them grow up but also made her an experienced photographer, comfortable with shooting all kinds of scenes and situations. After all, her “wild children” don’t stay indoors all day or limit themselves to perfect lighting. They go out and have adventures regardless of the weather. Rain, shine, or heavy snow, they embrace it all.

The cold never seems to bother this hardy kid. Negative 12 out and he is sledding 🙂

Elizabeth Bauer - snow portrait

In Wisconsin, that can mean months of shooting in the snow for Bauer. “We get a lot of snow here in northern Wisconsin. Last year we had a whole six months of it on the ground!”

Fortunately, she loves shooting during these snowy winter months. That’s mainly because the sun is at a low angle, creating wonderful lighting for portraits. “The light is at a beautiful, flattering angle for most of the day, so you are not as restricted to the ‘golden hours’,” she says.

Of course, winter also comes with unique challenges, from dealing with red, runny noses to getting the right exposure while shooting in the snow. Bauer offers a few tips for getting great portraits in the snow despite these challenges.

4 Tips for Beautiful Snow Portraits

Choose colorful clothes or accessories.

First off, Bauer recommends choosing brightly colored clothes that will stand out against a snowy landscape. This single choice can make a big difference in how eye-catching your portraits are. A colorful red scarf or bright yellow jacket can instantly make your photo more interesting.

“I love color and contrast,” she says. “With a nearly all-white background, you can really have fun with your colors without it seeming too busy.”

Baby it’s as cold as ice…maybe a bit colder

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Frozen lake

Spring break 2018

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Snowshoeing

Kids don’t seem to mind getting snowed in

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Snow portrait

A winter view

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Snow portrait

This is our winter

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Sledding

Use a dark background to capture snowflakes.

If you want to capture falling snowflakes, you’ll need to find a dark background so the snowflakes will show up in your portrait. “Evergreen trees work great for this,” Bauer says. “That, combined with using a long lens, will really give your snowflakes dimension.”

She also recommends using manual focus during a snowfall or blizzard, since “most autofocus systems will have a difficult time focusing on your subject when snow is falling.” Moreover: “protect your gear!!! Plastic bags or scarves wrapped around your camera will keep it from getting too wet.”

For more tips about protecting your camera in winter, check out this list of cold weather photography gear.

First snow fall!

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Snow portrait

May you catch the best one!

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Boy catching snowflake on tongue

Winter quiet

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Snow portrait

It’s that magic time of year, full of light and snow!!

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Falling snow with street light

She was happier about the first snow than I was! Hopefully fall is not over yet!

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Snow portrait

Shoot close-ups, too.

Although winter landscapes can be stunning, resist the temptation to focus on the landscape alone. Some of the best winter portraits are close-ups with a blurred winter background. “I absolutely love close-up portraits in the snow. There is just something about the simplicity of the background and a hat that makes the child’s face really stand out.”

Unicorn girl, summoning her powers

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Unicorn girl

I am such a sucker for these eyes

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Close-up portrait

Winter portraits are my absolute favorite

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Winter portrait

That laugh that wrinkles your nose

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Laughing portrait

Have fun!

As an experienced photographer of children, Bauer knows how to get great shots of kids: “Let them play! Sledding, skating, fort building, snowball fights, snowshoeing are all great activities.”

This advice could apply to adults, too, but it’s especially effective when you’re trying to get natural portraits of children. “Kids will cooperate so much with photos if you play with them and let them have a good time. Don’t make them stop being kids. Let them and actually encourage them to run wild. Just get ready to snap those moments when they pause. They become the best images.”

The snowy trail

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Boy with sled in the snow

Just for fun

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Jumping in the now

New kind of yoga? Resting angel pose

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Snow angel

Snow removal?

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Snow portrait

The backyard sledding hill is open for business!

Elizabeth Sallee Bauer - Sledding

To see more of Elizabeth Sallee Bauer’s photography, visit her Instagram or Flickr photostream.