Winter Cool Photos-Snow Sport Models

December 20th, 2010 by
There are four major types of skiing and snowboarding shots that are most commonly required by stock photo users.

Here are the major themes to consider:

  • Dramatic shots of experienced snowboarders and skiers in action.
  • Vacation/travel type images of models at the bottom of the slopes, packing and unpacking the car and playing around in the snow with the runs in the background.
  • Humorous conceptual images
  • Studio shots where models can be placed in front of backgrounds or isolated against white.

©Julia Pivovarova/

Use the following information to help you select appropriate models:

According to the U.S. based National Ski & Snowboard Retailers Association 63% of alpine skiers are male (mean age 33.6); 37% female (mean age 35.7). 70% of snowboarders are male and their mean age is 23.4; the 30% female snowboarders have a mean age of 25.6. Only .3% are over 65 or under seven years old. The big numbers are in the 13 to 17 age group (30.7%) and in the 18 to 24 age group (46.7%.)

The Experts. Choose the most talented athletes  you can find. You don’t want to spend your resources taking photos of an average skier attempting to look like a serious one.  Customers who want to download  action images want  to see highly skilled  moves in photos and they quickly see if the moves are amateurish.

Snowboarders should be in the age range of  low teens to late 20’s. Alpine and cross-country skiing have become more of a family sport and so you can consider ages from five on up to upper middle age and include families.

An advantage to hiring experienced skiers and snowboarders is that not only will they perform well on the slopes, they are more apt to wear the latest clothes and equipment.  Snowboarding is a cool sport. You don’t want uncool props/wardrobe. You can study every issue of every snowboarding magazine published and sit for hours in front of your computer doing the same for the online snowboarding sites but unless you are part of the culture, don’t try to fake it. You will fall flat in more ways than one.

Everyone else. If your models are recreational skiers and boarders, concentrate on shooting them at the base of the runs or on the lift.  The models could be playing in the snow…putting on their gear or helping a child to learn how to ski. Pick models that make up a family or couples.. Have your models talking to each other, messing around, adjusting equipment or in general having fun. Fun is the operative word for these shots no matter what visual problems they will solve.


The clothes for a family shoot should follow some rules such as helmets, no wild plaids or strange hats but don’t need to be as hip as the snowboard riders. You can rent equipment for the less serious skiers and snowboarders and have them bring their own clothes but be cautious of logos and copyrighted art on skis and boards. Be safe and take out all the art and logos using Photoshop.

©Petr Kirillov/

White isn’t a good choice for clothing when shooting a sport that happens against white!

For studio shots, ensure that the models are dressed appropriately. It’s easy to forget gloves and goggles when you are inside. (This sounds like a ‘duh’ statement but sometimes it’s the little details that can radically mess up a shoot.) Put helmets on everyone.

Remember: get model releases! Don’t expect professionals to sign. They get big bucks for the use of photos of them in endorsement advertising. And that fellow way up the slope? Maybe you don’t think he is recognizable but unless he appears in the photo as a tiny dot surrounded by a sea of white, get a release.


Shooting talented athletes in any sport requires that you, too, are skilled. It’s not enough to aim your camera uphill from below or to grab shots from the lift.  The best sports photographers know when to anticipate an action so that they are ready when it happens.

Don’t expect lots of downloads from long shots that show skiers as tiny dots surrounded by huge spaces of white. Use as long a lens as you have and zoom zoom zoom!

For background research visit a pro shop to get ideas for wardrobe and to see the latest equipment. Go to the websites of the major manufacturers to see great photography and to get styling ideas. Check out this source and Top Ten Snowboarding sites here.

Information central for all things ski.

Après ski? Pick a rustic bar or shoot close-up and any drink will do as long as the models still have on their gloves. Skol!