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Photographing snow – by Christophe Jacrot

How-to Snow Photography – by Christophe Jacrot

Christophe Jacrot has been photographing snowy landscapes for years, sometimes when it is raining big fat snowflakes outside. His book Neiges [Snows] was just released by French art book publisher hartpon. Jacrot was kind enough to share a few thoughts and tips on the art of snow photography with BLIND.
Example of snow photography, showing a donkey covered in snow

© Christophe Jacrot

How long have you been photographing snow? 

I started out photographing rain, a little over ten years ago. And then, since I was interested in inclement weather—that was the subject of my first book, météores— I just naturally started leaning towards snow photography.

What advice would you give someone wishing to start doing snow photography?

You have to find your own voice. In terms of snow photographs, I don’t really have any advice to give, other than you have to be very careful about condensation. Thermal shock. When you go from the outside, where it can be very cold, to an inside that’s heated, your camera can sustain significant thermal shock. That can really ruin your shot. 

You might not be able to use your camera for 45 minutes because of the condensation on the lens and inside the lens. So, as to photos in the snow, I always recommend keeping your camera in a bag to reduce the heat effect and avoid thermal shock.

Example of a snow photograph, showing a hotel during a winter storm

© Christophe Jacrot

Is there any specific type of equipment that’s required to photograph snow? 

First, in terms of the camera, when you’re out photographing snow, I recommend using a classic body with a good grip on it, and a rather high-end body, a weather-sealed body. These are bodies that have good weatherproof abilities, which allows you to fight against the risk of runoff moisture that inevitably happens in the field. 

Then the clothes. Like anyone going off into the mountains, you need to make sure you cover yourself properly when taking snow photographs. Do not hesitate to put on two or three layers of clothing, because you can sometimes go a long time without moving.

“You can’t be afraid of the cold, the wind, or discomfort”

Photographing snow required some technique, whether to shoot at night or to capture snowflakes

© Christophe Jacrot

Is there any specific technique for capturing snowflakes? 

It all depends on what you’re trying to do. Shutter speed is the main factor. If you’re trying to capture snowflakes as they’re falling, then I recommend 1/500. If you’re trying to achieve movement, instead, then I recommend 1/100. But obviously it depends on the type of movement!

Is there any specific attitude to have when photographing snow?

You can’t be afraid of the cold, the wind, or discomfort. Sometimes you can’t see anything, the wind turns and just like that, it’s blowing in your face. So obviously, snow photography is  not as comfortable as working in a studio!

What is it about snow that you like?

I think that first off, I’m drawn to the aesthetics of it, to the dramatic aspect of inclement weather. I think of some of the photographers that also used rain or snow in their work: the American Saul Leiter, German photographer Ernst Hass, and French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, with his magnificent portrait of sculptor Alberto Giacometti shielding himself from the rain with his raincoat. 

Plus, snow transforms a landscape. It creates a temporary landscape that I find interesting to photograph. I am often reminded of the words of the writer Christian Bobin: “Snow is a little bit of cold and a lot of childhood.”

Example of photos in snow, showing an abandoned structure

© Christophe Jacrot
Example of photography in the snow

© Christophe Jacrot

Interview by Jean-Baptiste Gauvin


By Christophe Jacrot

Éditions h’artpon 

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