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.
That third picture – the Eiffel Tower with a tele lens – is fantastic!
Thank you so much!
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Really nice photographs. I love the one which shows only part of the Eiffel Tower, framed by the two buildings and the tree. I love the fact that it only shows part of the tower, instead of the whole thing as in most pictures. I find the composition and the colors really transmit the mood of the weather. Nice job!
Paris is such a beautiful city. There is so much history, and the architecture is spectacular. French is my first language, so this adds to the connection I feel to the city. I’ve been there twice, but never during winter. Being from Quebec, Canada, I am used to at least a meter of snow on the ground during winter, but I can easily imagine what a treat this must have been for Paris residents!
Merci beaucoup Frederic !
Oui, il y avait pas une grande quantité de neige, mais un peu c’est suffisant pour rendre la ville encore plus belle :) J’aimerais bien visiter Quebec l’hiver un jour…
Best regards from Paris,
For those of us who live in a climate with a definite winter and summer, this “snow” is but a dusting.
Short but sweet.
I particularly like the forbidding avenue with a single bird and the tree lined avenue – again with a single bird.
Nice touch and well seen.
Many thanks Betty. It’s my favorite picture of this series too.
Nice photos. Style is inconistent though.
Thanks for your comment.
Great pics of Paris in winter. My last trip to Paris was in july 11 years ago;
Glad you share this with us
Thank you so much Luc.
I haven’t been to pari for 44 years, although I still hear its siren song… Thank you for bringing me just a little closer…
Thanks to you! Hope you can visit it again.
Really good stuff here composition wise. Good job!
Many thanks Ori. Much appreciated!
What a fascinating article! Thank you very much for taking the time to share this with us, Juan. I’ve only ever been in Paris once, during the middle of winter – from just before Christmas until the first few days of January – and although there was plenty of ice around, not a flak of snow. These photographs are a wonderful treat, for me!
Hello Jean Pierre. Thank you so much for your comment. Yes, Paris under the snow is magic. Hope you can see it one day!