Cold Weather Survival Guide For Wedding Photographers

It’s been a year of extremes in many ways and whilst we previously posted our Hot Weather Survival Guide, it’s now time for the exact opposite – Our Cold Weather Survival Guide For Wedding Photographers.

Winter weddings seem to be more popular than ever and why not. Couples can get more for their budget by opting for a date that’s considered ‘Off Season’ and many venues are already decorated for the festive season so they can save on having to completely dress a space. Sounds romantic, right? Except there’s the good old British Weather to contend with and for wedding photographers, it can mean having to deal with all kinds of additional challenges for both you and your kit.

Our Farm community is a very mixed bag in terms of levels of experience, which is one of the things that makes us so unique – in our Facebook group, for example, you’ve got past mentors offering their advice and experience but also brand new photographers chipping in with their thoughts. So with all experience levels in mind, I asked everyone what was the one thing they wish they knew at the beginning of their career – something that was unexpected to discover, something that was passed on to them that has been helpful, or something they would say to a pal that’s pursuing this as a career. Here are some of their responses…

It’s a discussion that opened up over in our Facebook Group and some incredible tips have come in from our members so I decided to share them on our blog to help as many of you as possible.

Let’s start with Neil Thomas Douglas who has quite a few tips for cold weather shooting as he is based up in Scotland and covers a fair few outdoor elopements, even in the winter months.

What to Wear When Photographing in Cold Weather

Wear some fingerless Thermal or Cashmere Gloves when out shooting. If you get the kind that convert into mittens, then you can pull the flap over when you are not shooting. They are also great for wearing whilst at your desk if you haven’t got the heating on.

Hand Heating Packs – great for keeping in your pockets at outdoor ceremonies and Neil carries a few spare to hand out to older guests if needed. Claire Fleck went on to add that you can pick up rechargeable hand warmers that don’t have the environmental impact of disposable ones.

Neil recommends investing in a merino wool base layer top from Finisterre, a British company that started out making garments for surfers to stay warm. He says that the fabric keeps you warm when outside but not sweaty when you get back inside.

Jo Greenfield says to invest in getting a heated gilet. She’s based in the Lakes and during the pandemic, was shooting a lot of elopements outdoors. Her husband bought her this incredible waistcoat which she describes as ‘Like walking around with a heated car seat stuck to your back’.  Her tip is to only have the heat packs on the back to avoid any sweat patches when you take it off.

Another thing she highly recommends for winter elopements or outdoor shoots is to invest in a pair of dry robes that you can lend to the couple for in-between shots. Designed for cold water swimming, they will provide instant warmth – nobody wants to run the risk of hyperthermia and yet somehow couples can sacrifice being practical when it comes to what to wear.

Simon Crofts put forward these fantastic tips having lived and photographed in Russia for years. 

Cold Weather Photography Tips

“If it’s reeeaaaaallly cold – don’t bring a camera in from icy conditions into a warm interior and expect to be able to use it – it’ll steam up instantly just like your glasses, and you may damage your lens with trapped condensation apart from not being able to take pictures for a while. Also if you try to change the lens you may cause condensation on your sensor. You have to leave it in your camera bag for 10 mins or so to warm up slowly before use. The solution is to either have a second camera already warmed up waiting inside, or carry an additional camera in a closed bag that you haven’t let cold air into if you’re just outside for a few minutes. You could also drop a hand warmer in the camera bag.

Also, at risk of stating the obvious, use contact lenses for yourself not glasses if possible.

The cold will kill batteries super fast – so keep your spares not in your camera bag where they’ll get cold but in an inside pocket of your jacket to use body warmth. If you’re going to be outside for a long time, you need to use an external battery pack in an inside pocket connected to your camera with a dummy battery. In really cold weather a camera battery may die from fresh in a few minutes.

If you use a tripod or monopod, invest in a carbon fibre one. Your skin can stick to metal and it hurts to pull it away.

Find silk long johns, not synthetic ones, they’re superb at keeping you warm. But silk ones also don’t get hot and sweaty when you go into a warm interior.”

Matt Pocknell also added – “Probably sounds like an odd suggestion but it comes from a decade in the Marines and many cold nights in Norway, buy a Jet Boil. Those days where it’s so cold you can’t really warm up till you’re in a hot bath – I take a Jet Boil and a basic drink-making kit and if it’s been a cold one, I make myself a fresh hot coffee before I leave for the long journey home.”

Allan Law suggests popping a couple of these sponge lens cloths into your bag to quickly clean moisture from either your camera or glasses lenses.

You need to take care of yourself and your clients when working outdoors in the winter. Adrenaline can fool you into thinking that you are OK when maybe you are not. Layers are your friend when it comes to getting dressed so that you can add and remove to suit. Be most careful when moving from one temperature to another that’s very different, give both yourself and your kit time to acclimatise. 

Neil also recommends keeping some silica pouches in with your kit. You can either save them from packages that you get delivered or pick them up online. They are great for preventing condensation on your kit.

Plan ahead and implement our tips and there’s no reason why you won’t create some truly magical wintery images.

Please note: some of the links included in this article are affiliate links and so I may make a (very, very) small commission if you make a purchase through them.