Every year folks from around the world head up to ski resorts for their winter vacation. Many of them will have their photos taken by the on-mountain professional photographer at the scenic overlook at the top of the mountain. The prints that they purchase will be taken home, framed and cherished as their most valuable possessions.
One of the most important factors, is being in the right place at the right time. There are many variables to consider, such as deciding where to set up your photography shop on the mountain. Lets take a look at some.
The weather is a big factor in determining where the best zone is to photograph clients. Because the weather can change minute by minute, shooting zone flexibility is the key. If your zone becomes fogged in, MOVE, it could be that 1000′ down the mountain the view is great.
The “hot zone” on a blue sky day
The “hot zone” on a blue sky day is typically the best view from the top of the ski hill. When the weather is good you will capture the most pictures from the best scenic overlook on the mountain. Families, couples, singles and groups will ski right up and even wait in line on these picture perfect days. Harvest the hay while the sun is shining. Do a good job with your groups, squeeze as much as you can out of each one by doing your breakdowns. By breakdowns I mean a group shot, then just the kids, then mom-n-dad, then individual photos of each kid. Work it, when they go to buy their pictures, the more you shoot the more they buy.
The hot zone on a snowy day is typically the most wind protected area of the mountain. Another important factor when the weather is inclement is your backdrop, so if possibe pick a spot with beautiful trees for the background. The prettier the trees are, the better. People will definitely buy photos taken while it is snowing, especially if they have snow laden branches or are from areas like Florida where it doesn’t snow.
The time of the day may effect your zone
The time of the day may effect your zone choice too. If there is a good view from the deck where everyone meets for lunch, it’s a great opportunity to get everyone while they are altogether and not zooming around the mountain. It can be a challenge getting folks to slow down long enough for a photo shoot. Try setting up at the on-mountain lodge (if it has a good view), particularly during the busy periods, like the holidays and spring break. Try to set up in view of the outdoor eating area, so everyone sees you working, interested groups will come over to you. If it slows down, youcan go over and work the crowd.
At large ski areas where skiers only ride a particular lift once in the morning, just to get to the upper lifts. You can be busy in the morning, then really slows down when everybody’s up there skiing, so move.
Shadows and lighting
Shadows and lighting change throughout the day and some locations can become completely unshootable in the afternoon. A zone thats hot at 2pm may not be by 3pm, as it gets swallowed up by the long afternoon shadows from the tall Mountains. Move to a spot with better light, people are getting tired and now they will slow down long enough for a quick shot.
If you work for a company that assigns you a specific zone to shoot and you have to shoot it hot or not, and at the moment it’s not. Cover your zone the best you can, stay enthusiastic and energetic you will get something, and it could be the best money group of the day!
If you cover your zone, hot or not, your manager will be more likely to give you a hot zone on future assignments. Hone your photography skills and be dependable. You’ll start getting the best location.