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Minnesota: Building Wedding and Portrait Photography Skills Year-Round

Minnesota is a great place to live and to visit. With big cities and big city shopping (Mall of America, anyone?) to the rustic, wild outdoors (11,842 lakes is the official count), Minnesota offers a lot to its residents and visitors. Minnesota offers even more to photographers, though! There is the wide variety of urban and natural landscape and subjects, but add to that Minnesota’s weather, and photography has become a whole ‘nother animal! Photographers are always refining skills, and one benefit of being a photographer in Minnesota is that the weather challenges those skills and helps to stretch the photographer in his or her work. Plus, the weather provides interest; each day is different and presents a variety of interesting subject scenarios!

Each season in Minnesota has something to offer to the photographer. Winter is characterized by snow – lots of it! The average amount of snowfall in Minnesota ranges from 36 inches in the south to over 70 inches in the north near Lake Superior. The challenge of photographing in snow is that snow is blindingly white. This can wreak havoc on your camera’s auto-exposure if you use it, and reflections of light can also cause problems. But the snow offers many creative opportunities, as well. Images taken during snowfall can be very romantic, and warm light flowing from windows in the evening can look gorgeous against a snowy backdrop or foreground. Naked trees can stand against a white sky in a photo showing the starkness of winter, and even shadows on the snow can offer good subject material.

In early spring, snow can still fall. But once things start warming up, events like thunderstorms, floods, and tornadoes can occur. This offers fantastic weather photography opportunities. The wind also increases in the spring, with April being the windiest month over most of the state. Kites, flags, and coats blowing in the wind are examples of good subjects to shoot at this time. Fog over the lakes and low-lying areas also offers great subject material. Photographing during rain can be difficult, but use rainstorms to practice this skill.

Summer is a fairly easy time to photograph in. It does not get very hot in Minnesota, so outdoor shoots are easy to schedule. Sunny, warm days are typical portrait days, offering chances to practice photographing in all angles of natural sunlight. But Minnesota gets its fair share of thunderstorms and tornadoes in the summer, as well. During the summer, the outdoors comes to life. Canoeing, hiking, swimming, boating – all are wonderful photogenic activities! Use the summer weather to do creative shoots, as well, such as an engagement shoot with a couple paintballing each other!

Minnesota has a beautiful Midwestern autumn. Bold colors of red, orange, and yellow cover the trees, and crops of corn and wheat turn amber. The weather can swing between warm and cold quickly, and the storm season is very intense; blizzards sometimes occur in the fall. Because of the changes in weather, fall is a great time to practice quickly changing gears with camera settings from one day to another. It is also a good time to practice the skill of flexibility – shoots may be canceled because of weather, and last-minute shoots may be scheduled because the weather turns out perfect on a particular day!

By living in Minnesota or visiting around the year, photographers can gain a lot of experience shooting in different conditions and in various background or activity scenarios. It may even be beneficial (and very fun) to plan a few weekend getaways, one each season, to different parts of Minnesota just to practice photography!

Submitted by:

Dan Oksnevad

About the Author: Dan Oksnevad is a Minneapolis based wedding and portrait photographer. You may view his portfolio at www.danoksnevadphotography.com.




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