Tips and Tricks For Outdoor Photography in Extreme Cold Conditions

Blog.2 (1 of 1)

Here are a few tips and tricks I have learned over the years from experimenting and researching to help keep me and my camera gear warm and safe while shooting in the cold.

Check the weather forecast!! No matter what it looks like outside you can always get out and shoot, but don’t ever get caught unprepared. Even though the weather forecast can be wrong from time to time (lol) be sure to prepare as best you can. Knowing what the weather should be will help you determine the kind of gear you’ll need to get that perfect shot!!

If you want to be an Outdoor Adventure photographer you need to do just that. Get out and be adventurous. Go where nobody else is going. Strap on your snowshoes, or cross-country skis and get outdoors.

Clothing For Me: From Head to Toe

Toque x2: One toque made for whisking the sweat away while walking to your destination and one to keep you warm once you have arrived and are going to be standing for a while getting your shot.

Ski goggles: What?? Yes I said ski goggles. They will keep your face warm in the cold and the UV protection will protect your eyes so you aren’t squinting all day in the sun. The darkened lens will also let your eyes see what your camera will see!

Ski goggles can create fun images!

Neck warmer: Covers your face and neck to keep warmth in. Will keep skin covered and prevent possible frostbite in really cold conditions.

Torso: 3 part layering (at the very least). Start with a base layer using materials made for whisking sweat away and keeping you warm (merino wool is great). Second layer is for warmth – down filled jacket or heavy sweater is what I use. Third and the most important layer: windproof, waterproof layering (gore-tex) is a must. When standing all day trying to get that perfect shot, having something waterproof is a necessity in my opinion.

Gloves and mitts. I have found that the best kind of gloves for shooting are the ones with rubber on the inside and a pair of waterproof mitts on top that can be taken off or put on fast and easy so you’re not fumbling around trying to stay warm between shots.

Snow pants: also layering is very important. You need to remember when out exploring and working to find that perfect spot to shoot, you’ll be working up a sweat to get there and when you finally arrive, you need to stay warm when not moving. Make sure your pants are lightweight and waterproof/windproof (gore- tex). Otherwise, while lying on ice or snow your body heat will cause some melting and your pants will get wet.

Knees: A little trick I’ve tried which works wonders is bringing a foam pad or hunting hot seat. This will provide a layer that will absorb and prevent any heat transfer from you to the snow.

Blog.3 (1 of 1)

Socks: Again merino wool whisks moisture away from the skin and provides awesome warmth. Don’t leave home without them!
Boots: Waterproof boots are a must!! Make sure they’re tall so they cover most of your lower leg. This is really important for those times when you have to walk through deep snow or slush to get the right angle for your shot.
Staying Healthy

Stomach: Your body needs fuel to stay warm so make sure you’ve eaten a good meal before going out. And bring extra snacks to keep yourself fueled. Keep hydrated, drink lots of water you go out and bring some with you. I keep my water in a plastic Nalgene close to my body so it doesn’t freeze.

Shivering : Know your body. When the body starts to shiver it’s telling you that it’s trying to warm up. Best thing to do is move around. Do some jumping jacks and get your whole body moving to help circulate blood flow to the extremities.

Moving to stay warm
Keeping Your Gear Protected

Now for your gear!! Why keep that warm?? Well I’ll tell you why. If you’re like me you’ve worked hard to get the best gear you can, and you want it in tip top condition when you’re about to get that perfect shot. Here are a few things I’ve done over the years that has helped keep my gear working in the coldest conditions.

Camera bag: While most camera bags aren’t waterproof or windproof that doesn’t mean your gear shouldn’t be protected. I use a waterproof rain cover at all times to cover my bag. This cover also doubles as a protective layer once I’ve arrived at my location. I can simply lay my bag down with the cover against the snow to make sure no moisture gets into my stuff.

Camera: Shooting in snowy, icy or windy conditions can be a challenge. But you can use a plastic rain cover (or bag) over top of your lens and body to prevent snow from melting into the lens when your putting it back in your bag.

IMG_3597 (2)
Plastic cover on camera is important. In this image I just got splashed by a wave because I like to be close to my subject.
Batteries: How many times do you go out and all of a sudden realize you’re running out of battery life? You should always bring extra batteries but in cold conditions this may not be enough because battery life is greatly diminished . I’ve developed a great technique to keep my batteries warm, even in the coldest conditions so I’m never caught with dead batteries when I’m out on sub zero shoot!

This is just one example of the regular bonus “Tips” readers of our newsletter get. Sign up to get our updates (bottom of any page on our website) and we’ll send you a video demonstrating my best technique for keeping your equipment working in really cold weather!!!

Well I hope you found these quick pointers on shooting in extreme cold temperatures useful. Remember, it’s never impossible to get out and shoot – even in crazy conditions. When everyone else is staying indoors, bundled up in front of the fire, you have a chance to get out and explore when nobody is around. I get some of my very best shots on days like this! If you prepare, you’ll stay safe and comfortable and you can keep those fingers clicking!!

Till next time,




Sarah Desjardins
Outdoor adventure photographer

Sarah Desjardins is the Creative Director for Tiny Big Adventure and a professional outdoor adventure photographer. Her passion for capturing the beauty of the world around her has led her to many places, from underground a mile below the surface of the earth to some of the highest mountain summits in North America and many places in between.

More tips

More Alex Provost
Alex Provost
Alex Provost is a passionate adventurer, trail runner and gravel grinder. He has been a fixture...
Outdoor adventurer and high altitude paramedic Michael Stief tells us how to stay healthy when climbing….
(Visited 495 times, 1 visits today)