As the first days of above-freezing temperature begin to thaw Washington, D.C. I have a bit of time to gather, edit and share some of the images from this weekend’s historic blizzard.
First off, a couple of tips for shooting in the snow:
1. Hand warmers: not for you, but for your camera batteries and most importantly, your iPhone. I often found myself in white out conditions where my iPhone + battery backpack was going down faster than the temperature.
2. Plastic bags: when you’re not shooting, but still want your camera readily available, throw a plastic bag over it. This can be a grocery store bag, sandwich bag or even a small shopping bag (I found the little draw string bags you get at the Apple Store to be the best). Anything to keep from snow getting into the crevasses of your camera, freezing and causing all sorts of problems.
3. Lens cloths: keep at least three or four of these with you. I pick up a pack on Amazon every few months. They will get wet in a storm and then you can’t use them so carry a few.
4. The usual cold weather clothing: pack smart, dry and in layers. Thermal long pants, gloves that can transition from mittens to fingerless gloves are my favorite to be able to control camera settings (although, your fingers will get cold so take a break every few minutes), hats that don’t get in the way of the camera… oh, and wool socks.
This proved to be a complete nightmare for D.C. transit, so the only way to shoot the storm was on foot.
I ventured out late afternoon on Friday, Jan. 22 to get some of the beginnings of the storm farther away from my neighborhood knowing that in just a few hours I wasn’t going to be able to get more than a mile away from my house.
It is amazing how quickly the world’s most powerful city can empty. The streets felt like scenes from The Day After Tomorrow and those who did go out, mostly journalists and other photographers, looked like migrating mammals you’d see on an episode of Planet Earth — cold, slow moving creatures unaffected by the worsening conditions.
Throughout the two-day storm and celebratory snow days afterwards, a city that is historically torn apart by political party lines, income inequality, race and sports teams collectively turned off Netflix and went outside to both enjoy and manage the record-setting snowfall.
From sledding down Capitol Hill to plowing the city streets, some of my favorite pictures of a city I’ve been working in for many years and now call home were made in just the past few days.
Gorgeous sunsets, deep twilights over a snow-white Mall, skiing down what were busy streets and pickup football games were just a few of the highlights.
And not every photograph was made on a professional DSLR. I shot many scenes on my iPhone 6s along with a Nikon D750 and my two favorite lenses (35mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4).
I hope you enjoy some of the images and stories that were made this past weekend, and drop me a line on Twitter or Instagram next time you’re heading to town and I can share a few tips and spots for making the best out of the Nation’s Capital.
Steve Johnson is a photographer and visual storyteller based out of Washington, D.C. He specializes in producing and consulting for non-profits, NGOs and foundations telling stories to help people. You can see more of Steve’s work on his website: www.journo2go.com.