Winter is a great time for photography; the sunrises and sunsets are better now in my opinion than at any other time of the year. On the really cold, dry days, I find that the quality of the light is amazing. There is less humidity in the air, so there's less water vapor present to refract light, resulting in a clarity and special quality that only the really cold days of winter can bring.
Winter Shooting Pros:
(1). Plan your outings on winter shoots. If I have to hike a distance to get to the scene (mountain tops, etc), I'll dress in layers of Under Armor, so that I stay reasonably warm and dry on the long, active excursions. I will also use my Cotton Carrier (http://buy.cottoncarrier.com/cotton-carrier-camera-vest-p/635rtl-s.htm) on the winter treks; listen, its hard walking in snow, and even with snow shoes you're likely to fall if you're hands are always balancing a heavy DSLR. Invest in a Cotton Carrier, and you can walk hands free with your DSLR on your chest. Cotton Carrier also sell excellent little lens bags, which are perfect for day trips where you'll be humping in the snow on your snowshoes; they hold a decent sized lens, plus a bunch of filters, car keys, whatever you need on a day trip.
(2). Boots that are warm enough do not exist, not when you stop for extended periods to try and capture shots of wildlife, or take timed exposures of northern lights or sunrise/sunset shots. If you stand long enough, even the warmest boots on the planet will leave you with cold feet. So I use those air-activated hand/foot warmers on the really cold days. Worth their weight in gold.
(3). If you're not going to be active, i.e. you have all your kit in your car, and you're stopping on quiet country roads to take timed exposures at dawn, dusk or at night, you're going to get cold standing around. I overdress, wearing my "hell-froze-over-and-I'm-warm" Canada Goose parka and hat. You can always unzip and let heat out if you overdress, but if the wind's up or the temps are below 0 Fahrenheit, you can't seem to get warm when standing around doing timed exposures. I suggest you overdress.
In conclusion, winter shooting poses a lot of challenges. Its difficult to get from here to there because you have to walk through snow; its cold, and you and your equipment really don't like to be out when it gets below 0F/-32C. Everything takes longer to do, lenses frost up, electronics pack in and stop working or misbehave, and have you tried setting up a lighting scenario in snow? That all said, I love shooting in the winter. I like the cold if I'm dressed for it, I love the air quality as it relates to photos, and I love the special feel of a photo taken at dawn or dusk on a blistering cold day. It just looks so beautiful. So get out and shoot the winter! Life is short, photos last.
Chris Kiez, a hardcore photographer since the 80's, learned to take a picture before the age of selfies and cell phone photography, training on mechanical cameras and film. After years of taking photos of all manner of subjects and people, he did over a 10 year stint as a crime scene photographer on two continents. Now, he does portrait and landscape photos, and is currently distressing the world with his relentlessly, excruciatingly boring blogging. To buy what you see on this site, click here!