Last winter, the weather was really special in Paris. Snow surprised residents on two occasions. It had not snowed so intensely for more than five years. So, it is easy to imagine the excitement with which the city received this event. Hundreds of photographers went out into the streets to capture the moment. Of course, I was among them. In this article, I would like to show you my selection of the best photos taken those days and to share with you a few tips about the practice of urban photography under the snow.
First, a few notes on what you may want to think about before leaving. It seems obvious, but I think it is a very important point: You should wrap yourself up very well before you go out to photograph snow! It is indispensable if you don’t want to get cold and have to abandon your task to warm up.
Aside from that, think about your camera equipment ahead of time. For normal photography, I usually work with fixed lenses. I always carry with me two or three lenses (35mm, 50mm, 85mm) that I mount on my camera depending on how the circumstances vary. However, changing a lens is not always an easy task when wearing gloves. It is awfully cold, and, in addition, it may be snowing. For snow photography, my advice is to opt for a lens that is versatile enough so that you don’t have to change it often. In my case, I chose a 24-70mm f/2.8, ideal for photographing a wide range of subjects.
If it goes on snowing and you want to capture the snowflakes falling, use dark backgrounds. It’s a no-brainer: Snow, on a white background, can not be seen. Use facades of buildings, shop windows, interesting silhouettes, as passers-by with umbrellas… anything that accentuates the contrast.
Expose correctly. It is well known that the exposure meter of your camera has challenges when photographing scenes with overwhelming areas that should be bright or dark, not neutral. If your intention is to capture the whiteness of the snow, you may need to increase the exposure by one or two stops so that the whites are really white.
Use black and white. I admit it, I have a predilection for black and white. If you do not use it, I invite you to try to do so under these circumstances. The whiteness of the snow will allow you to obtain images with a strong contrast.
Explore your creativity. Snow transforms the landscape of the city in an incredible way. Try going to places that you have not visited for a long time because – by having visited them so much in the past – they no longer inspire you. The snow will make you discover details you had not noticed before.
Lastly, get up early! Untouched snow has a particular beauty for me. If you want to capture it, you will have to be among the first to arrive at the chosen place. Otherwise, dozens of footprints might ruin your image.