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Why Create Photographs with the Snow – Part 2

Photograph of trees surrounded by snow. The white color enhances the dreamlike aspect of the scene.
Photograph of trees surrounded by snow. The white color enhances the dreamlike aspect of the scene.

Why Photograph Scenes with Snow

The technique for photographing snowy scenes is an important point to master. But the essential point is to ask yourself why you will try to use this natural element in your photographs.

Snow makes it possible to add a very dreamlike dimension to your photographic compositions.

Few people in the world have ever seen snow. It's a privilege you must be aware of. By creating photographs with snowy scenes, you will be able to dream of other people.

The snow is the element par excellence to create clean and minimalist scenes.

Snow as an Artistic Element

For me snow is an extraordinary element to compose artistic photographs. It allows me to evoke a multitude of emotions and sensations that are difficult to translate with scenes without snow.

First of all, the snow evokes the vast expanses, the silence, the solitude, the emptiness.

It also evokes purity because of its whiteness.

But it can also mean death and suffering because when it snows, it is usually very cold.

Everything depends on you, your state of mind of the moment.

For example, for me snow is synonymous with my childhood in a small village in northern France. I built snowmen with my friends. They were laughter, shouts of joy during snowball battles, carelessness.

For me, the snow is the tranquility, the serenity, the time that freezes. The snow is light, graceful. Its whiteness covers everything that may be unsightly by showing landscapes where only the essential is visible.

The snow is also the sound of footsteps crying in an absolute calm. Nothing can disturb me. My whole body is soothed despite the cold around me.

But I also like to consider the snow as a rebirth. She covers everything. Then it will melt in the spring. A new life will be reborn. It's very symbolic but that's how I conceive snowy landscapes.

The Symbolism of the Snow

Invariably, snow is associated with winter. It evokes muffled and padded sounds with the screeching of steps that break the crystals.

The snow evokes the color white, landscapes and vast expanses bathed in a white color. Under the snow, everything disappeared: trees that only show shapes, stones, earth. It's as if a crazy painter had begun to cover everything in a pristine white to better revive nature after an expiatory period.

The snow also evokes suffering that is difficult for those who have no roof to shelter from the cold. It numbs bodies and souls.

When the snow falls everything is silent unlike the rain which can be very noisy. The flakes even when they fall in number are silent. They elegantly wrap all the shapes that are offered to our eyes. The snow erases all the horrors of the world. It can sublimate a landscape by covering it with a large white coat.

The snow evokes silence, calm, loneliness, renewal, mystery, beauty, purity, serenity but also hardness because of the cold.

But there is a term that I love above all when I think of snow, it is virginity. When I look at snowy landscapes, I feel that everything is pristine with noise, odors, unnecessary cacophony. I always feel that everything becomes possible again.

I like the feeling of timelessness that it gives and this feeling of calm. But I know it will eventually melt when temperatures get higher. Its effect is temporary. This is not a transformation but just a state during which time is suspended. It's an introspective time that allows me to think about directions to take in my life.

It is for this reason that it is a natural element which makes it possible to create scenes of dreamlike nature which makes us escape in another world.

The snowstorm reinforces the mysterious side of this photograph.
The snowstorm reinforces the mysterious side of this photograph.

Snow is Only the Negative Space of a Nature Photo

What is paradoxical with the snow is that you must have the impression with my explanations that it is the main subject of your photographs. Nevertheless, it is not the case. As I had in this article, it is only the negative space of your compositions.

In a landscape of snowy nature, you have trees, vegetation, a lake, mountains, etc.

In an animal photograph you have a mammal, a bird or any other living being.

These are the centers of interest. The snow is only there to carry them and put them forward. They constitute the essential part of your photographs. You must use the snow to highlight them.

You have to find the right balance and the right placement in your compositions even if they are minimalist.

I advise you not to forget them when you compose and when you compose.

Black and White or Color

The big question you will inevitably ask yourself is whether you will develop your photographs in color or in black and white. There is no automatic answer.

It all depends on your photographic identity as I described it  in this article, and it all depends on what you want to convey to the viewers.

If you want to create an illustrative photograph for your friends or for a magazine or for a tourist brochure, I recommend the color. You must stay in the purely descriptive register and show the landscapes or the animals as they are. You must be as faithful as possible to reality. In your color development, stay neutral and do not accentuate whiteness or details.

If you want to create an artistic photographic because you have to express your emotions as I had described  in this article, I suggest color or black and white. In this case, you can emphasize white, shadows, or details. Both modes are perfect for artistic expression.

The Best Time of the Day

If you choose the color, the ideal is to photograph early in the morning or at the end of the day. If you are lucky that the sun is visible, it will allow you to capture color shades that you will not have in the day when it is at the highest in the sky.

The contrast of scenes at the beginning or end of the day is much better for color photographs. As the scenes are the most contrasted, the details are more easily apparent in the textures of the plants or in the fur or feathers of the animals.

The photos in the middle of the day are more suited to black and white developments.

Photographing early in the morning or late afternoon is a very important benefit. Indeed, the temperatures are colder. The air becomes more ' clean and clearer". During these moments, it is easier to photograph snow crystals that shine more because the sun is grazing.

Personally, I prefer the black and white that corresponds more to my state of mind and my way of transmitting emotions. But it's a personal choice. You must define yours and go as far as possible in your approach.

The choice of the time of day to make photographs depends on what you want to show and transmit. Personally, I stay all day on the ground. With my snowshoes, I can walk miles in search of an animal or a particular scene. As the days are generally quite short in winter, the time spent on the ground does not exceed a few hours.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

I recommend you shoot snowy scenes only if you are comfortable with the cold. Photographing in the cold requires appropriate clothing and special gloves to access the different controls on the camera. Leaving several hours can be dangerous because one ends cool very quickly.

Do not try to go in the snow without taking many precautions and just because you want to create different pictures.

You must prepare as well as you can. From experience, I can tell you that even when well prepared, there is always an unfortunate event that occurs.

As I said in this article, it is important that you leave your comfort zone to create different and interesting photographs, but I evoked more the state of mind. I was not talking about putting your physical safety at stake. Creating a photograph, as extraordinary as it is, is not worth putting your life on the line.


I think that snow is a major asset to create cozy, dreamlike, timeless atmospheres. She erases all the impurities and creates mysteries in the photographed scenes. But be careful because it can be dangerous if you are not well prepared.

I recommend you prepare your photographic sessions in the snow on the one hand from a technical point of view but also in an artistic way. It is imperative that you understand why you are tempted by the snow and what you really want to do with it.


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