Finally there has been a big snowfall, and I am not complaining about a little shoveling. Someone in my business said to think of it as styling snow: it just doesn’t look good where it is and would look much better if moved to someplace else.
Some, but not all clients like to have their projects photographed in the snow. Their reasoning is that these homes were carefully designed and built to function well in winter, and the snow helps explain why they look like they do. From my point of view there are challenges to making the photos, but not mighty ones that can’t be overcome.
The photo above of a cabin in Wolf Creek with authentic charm shows untracked snow. It had been a long day and it was the last project, but instead of rushing inside to photograph the interiors I captured the cabin in the right sunset light and only afterward hurried in, tromping the snow to capture the interior photos in the remaining light.
Similarly in this photo, also taken in Wolf Creek, if I had walked through the snow in the front of the home and tried to fix the snow in post-production, I would have lost the dappling from the snow falling from the trees and the faint path covered by later snow. Unfortunately, post manipulation can destroy the details of a genuine snowy environment.
Evening shots hide much of the snow damage and present a warm inviting image with light spilling through the windows. Technically, evening shots are easier to do. Nevertheless, I returned on a gorgeous day with a perfect Park City sky to photograph this home two years ago (a year when we had regular heavy snowstorms). I loved showing how Scott Jaffa’s modern forms coped so well with all the snow.
Last winter’s light snows contrast to the prior season, shown above. I photographed this modern Park City home also designed by Scott Jaffa in the evening to compensate for the patchy snow and to show the massing and fenestration. I walked around the perimeter to get this shot but had to repair some of the snow in post-production. By taking the shot in the evening, the absence of snow from the evergreens isn’t as noticeable as it would be in a day shot.
Returning to the front of the same home designed by Scott Jaffa, the sky and sunset were incredible, the home was perfect, I was ready, but my equipment was not. I had to run the car heater on high to warm the digital camera and melt the ice on the tripod so I could adjust the legs.
Snow affects composition, as well. I wouldn’t have made this same shot of a home in Wolf Creek if it were summer, but the warmth of the timber and logs at the crest of the hill against the steely sky represents promises all the goodness of a home and the linear arrangement of the rooftop that reflect that of the ridge could otherwise be easily overlooked.
This photo of a Park City home in an area prone to breezes shows the problem of wind and snow. I composed the shot to minimize it, but the blowing snow gives the margin of the snow a sense of being out of focus.
I chose to make evening photographs of the exterior of a home in the Preserve. It was early this winter season and the snow wasn’t very deep. I followed the tracks from an elk herd to the position where I made this photo of the rear of the home and managed to get far enough back to show the three levels and not the elk damage to the snow.
For the front of the same home, I trekked through the sagebrush to find a position where the landscape hid the piles of plowed snow along the driveway. As you all know, it doesn’t take long after a snow before the lumpy piles of dirty snow mount up, and both position and evening shots minimize the visual impact.
You probably noticed that the opening shot in the blog is the same, but in black and white. There are some photos that have a very different impact in color or black and white, and I felt this one benefited by being represented both ways.
I’ll close wishing more snow and the promise of a rapturous spring and verdant summer. In the West, it’s all about water.
See more of Scot Zimmerman’s work here!