Why Are We So Drawn To Photographing Winter?

Have you ever noticed humans are obsessed with capturing photos in the Winter, whether photographer or not? These days, evidence of this can be found on social media, news or countless blog articles.

What’s the reason, you might wonder? After all, many of us complain about the mess snow and ice makes of our homes, streets and cities. Some abhor adding layers and layers…and more layers that turn us into something resembling the Michelin Man. Others find Winter thrilling and seek out the adventures it brings, seemingly no matter how cold, proclaiming its beauty. Why does this obsession to capture images of Winter seem to lead us into a love/hate relationship? The reasons might seem obvious to some and puzzling to others.

Navy Pier in Winter

1. Virginity.
You know what I mean. Virgin white snow. Snow that blankets the city, countryside mountains invoking the sense of a clean start or a fresh perspective. It covers everything that may have previously been exposed and creates a beauty not seen otherwise. This seems to energize a photographer to get out and capture all that appears new before the world’s activities make it ugly again…or worse, it disappears.

Lake Michigan Lighthouse in Winter

2. Exposure.
Contrary to the Virginity point, a fresh layer of snow reveals things you may never have seen before. Previously “ugly” things now look beautiful, the ordinary now seems extraordinary. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re outside in the fresh or falling snow, take a moment to stop and look around your familiar area. Does someone in your neighborhood have an interesting door that you never noticed? Is there a colorful sign that is now exposed? Do the buildings somehow look different?

3. White space.
Snow and ice are two “gifts” Winter offers as an outdoor studio for portraiture and more dramatic landscape photos. Whether you want to use the snow to create “white space” in your photos or use the ice to capture and reflect light and colors, these elements often provide an ideal backdrop for many subjects. If you’ve never thought of snow and ice this way when taking photos, give it a try!

Chicago Winter Trees

4. Elements of design.
Snow displays itself as finite architectural detail in a snowflake or the infinite glisten of a blanket over the Earth, while ice shows off either its smooth surface or jagged edges. These are examples of Winter’s wonderful examples of design elements: Textures, patterns, contrast, lines. Design elements are very important to a photographer and Winter offers him or her new opportunities with every snowfall. It’s almost magical, as long as you remember to adjust your camera’s settings to allow for photographing such a bright white background.

Chicago Tall Ship Windy in Winter

The Winter of 2013/2014 will go down in the meteorological records as one of the snowiest in Chicago’s history, as will much of the Northern United States. Just look for the photos! Make no mistake, the world has an obsession with Winter white! As we’re hoping for Spring to arrive soon, think about grabbing your camera (a tripod is also helpful in some instances) and challenging yourself to capture the beauty of Winter before it’s gone.