6 festive photo ideas to try this Christmas

2. Shoot a wintery portrait

If you’re lucky enough to have snow for a portrait shoot, then make the most of it – snow is a natural reflector of light so it gives lovely, soft, flattering light with subtle shadows. 

In the UK at least, it seems that it only snows when we don’t want it to, and never when we do, so for this project we had to make our own white stuff!

A fake snow machine such as the one we used sprays out a stream of soapy flakes that drift gently down to the ground, just like the real thing.

You can hire fake snow machines from most entertainment suppliers – the same places that offer disco hire and lighting rigs. They won’t break the bank either: ours was £25/$30 for the day, and came with a bottle of soapy fluid to make the snowflakes (you can hire specialist machines that create real snow, but they cost more, and the air temperature needs to be below freezing for them to work). 

Our snow fluid lasted for about 30 minutes of continuous use, so fire it in bursts to make it last. For the best effect, have a helper direct the snow so that the flakes fall both in front of and behind your subject while you shoot.

As well as making your own snow, we’ll look at a few of the key techniques and rules for shooting outdoor portraits, whether you want to fake a blizzard, capture subjects against beautiful seasonal colors, or shoot any kind of portrait in natural light. With the right choice of lens, aperture, shutter speed and focus controls, the rest is easy –  we’ll show you how to create a beautiful winter portrait whether you have the weather on your side or not.

Step-by-step: Let it snow

Phil Hall

Phil Hall is an experienced writer and editor having worked on some of the largest photography magazines in the UK, and now edit the photography channel of TechRadar, the UK's biggest tech website and one of the largest in the world. He has also worked on numerous commercial projects, including working with manufacturers like Nikon and Fujifilm on bespoke printed and online camera guides, as well as writing technique blogs and copy for the John Lewis Technology guide.