Tips for Taking Better Ski Photos

By Matt Pritchard

Kirkwood Times Cover

Note: This article appeared in the Early Winter 2005 issue of The Kirkwood Times.

Every year, it seems there are more skiers and snowboarders armed with cameras – ready to capture the beauty of the mountains and the excitement of a big day at Kirkwood. The advent of affordable digital cameras has made it easier than ever to bring home evidence of that epic powder day or your big session in the park. Taking photos on the mountain can be tricky, and sometimes the results are disappointing. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind the next time you’re behind the lens.

Get Closer – Often, the easiest way to improve your photos is to simply get closer to your subject. It may sound too simple, but filling the frame can make a big difference in the overall quality of your shot.

Add the Element of Action - Group photos at the top of the chairlift are OK, but tend to be boring. Add some excitement to your photo by capturing your friends in action on the mountain or in the park. Take a minute to visualize the photo and get into the right position. Use hand signals or walkie talkies to let your friends know when you are ready for their best. This leads us to our next tip.

Beware of Kodak Courage – Cameras sometimes interfere with our better judgment, encouraging us to take risks we normally wouldn’t consider. Pushing yourself too hard is more likely to land you in the hospital than on the cover of Powder Magazine. Always ski and ride within your abilities.

Don’t Be Afraid of Flash – A flash may seem like the last thing you would need on a sunny day, but actually the “pop” from a flash helps fill in the shadows on peoples’ faces and evens out the light between your subject and the bright background.


Watch Out on Windy Days – Here are two reasons why wind and cameras don’t always mix. First, wind has a way of blowing snow into the sensitive bits of your camera, potentially causing damage. Second, your friends in the photo are more likely to look annoyed than happy. It’s really hard to smile when you are being blasted by a cold wind.

Make Your Whites Whiter – Bright snow can play tricks on the light meter in your camera – leaving you with dingy, underexposed photos. Check your camera’s manual to see if it has a “snow” mode; if so, turn it on. More advanced cameras may have an exposure compensation setting. Adjusting this setting to +1 or +1.5 will ensure that the snow in your photos actually turns out white.

It is no secret that the best way to improve your skiing or snowboarding is to spend more days on the mountain. Well, the same is true for photography. If you really want to improve the quality of your shots, you’ll need to spend some time taking photos. Experiment with your camera, and go back to review your results – look at what worked and what didn’t. Before you know it, you’ll have a collection of photos you can be proud to show off to your family and friends.

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