As a Canadian, winter is just such a huge part of our lives. It’s cold for almost half the year. I love how beautiful the winter can be given the right circumstances. I get the question every year about how to prepare for a winter photo session. These are some of my tips for making winter work for our photo session together.
Outfits are a huge part of planning for a winter session. The main thing to consider is warmth. How warm do you want to be during your session vs how close you want to come to creating a vision you see in your mind. Being practical and honest with oneself is very important right off the bat.
If there are children involved in the session, warmth is paramount. If you know your child hates the cold, there’s no point in dressing them in something cute you saw on a website that dresses children for Southern California “winters”. We live in the Northeast. It can get very cold. If your child ignores the cold, then feel free to dress them how you like. But be realistic. Having happy, cooperative kids trumps cute outfits any day.
For adults, you have a bit of leeway. Adults can pretend to be happy and warm (at least for a little while). I can be a great actress for some great photos but I’m pretty sensitive to cold. I’ve learned the key to warmth is layers. When preparing for a winter photo session, I recommend long underwear. It’s a great way to keep your core temperature up, without adding too much bulk. Some great value pieces I’ve found are at UNIQLO for mens’ and for womens’. For under $30 a piece, you can get some great winter warmth that will last past this photo session and keep you toasty for the slopes as well. I have both the tops and the leggings. When you layer a chunky sweater over this and even a wool coat, you’ll stay relatively warm.
Depending on your personal style, things to consider when shopping for a coat are: 1) what colours photograph well 2) what’s the ‘line’ I’m aiming for / style I’m trying to communicate to best match the location I’ve picked.
Pro tip: Go to your favourite retailers’ websites and storefront displays – they will often teach you how to style the outfits from head to toe. If you aren’t good with style, trust the experts that get paid the big bucks. Don’t get creative by going piecemeal from different suppliers if you don’t know how to mix and match.
The best coats for an urban landscape are thinner wool-type coats. The straight lines work well with the surrounding architecture. They look chic and blend in well. Go with neutral colours (such as camel, or black). Or if you are a risk-taker and want to stand out against the architecture, feel free to go bold red. One of my favourite brands is Club Monaco.
If you want to go bold, you can do that both with the colour choice, as well as the coat style itself. I love military style coats, or something fun like a dramatic bow, hood, or cape.
One of my brides for a winter elopement wore this bold and dreamy cape. Her now-husband said it reminded him of Narnia. It was practical and beautiful. The most important thing is that it has to fit your personality.
If you want to go for the puffer jacket look in the city, it can definitely work. Just look for texture to make it really pop, such as this slick option:
The ideas are endless. These are just some that popped into my head when planning this outfit planning resource. If you have any questions, feel free to just reach out!
When you’re hiking, you are generally more laid-back and casual. This is when you can think about exposing layers of sweaters, wearing puffy jackets and working in giant mittens and hats.
It’s all about the layering with this look. Chunky sweaters, coats that are unzipped but chunky so you can play in the snow and just roughhouse. Warm but mobile is the name of the game. Colours should also be inspired by nature. Don’t wear something you wouldn’t naturally see in the forests (ie DO NOT go ski-jacket neon).
I love sweaters, however sweaters hate me. I tend to avoid wool as a result, and opt for cotton, but if you can rock the wool this is where you can introduce lots of fun textures to your outfit. Acrylic is a cheaper option if you want that textured look, but can’t afford wool. For me, texture is everything when it comes to a sweater. Don’t opt for something like a thin cashmere that just hangs on you. It’s not flattering on anyone except for the thinnest of supermodels. Chunks hide all of our rolls and soft parts as well as the thermal underwear I suggested you layer underneath.
Wrap yourself up in a warm layer, but also include it as a prop for the session. It’ll be great for piggyback rides, hugs, lying down and more.
You want to be warm. When the snow is deep, consider if these will just cover your shoes all together. Be practical. It won’t make sense to wear stilettos in the forest covered in snow. I also don’t want anyone to injure themselves. Being mobile allows you to play in the snow, pose, walk and adapt to changing terrain. I always recommend winter boots/ hiking boots. If you have a long dress, it’ll be covered anyway or buried in the snow.
Is it just me, or do I love babies in mini-versions of adult clothing. Or perhaps dressed up in those snowsuits that make them look like little bears? The main thing to consider when dressing kids is to make sure their faces show (ie not covered by outfits that they are swimming in/will eat constantly), and to avoid pastel or neon colours. Neutral is always best (creams, whites, browns, navy blues, etc).
To prepare for a winter photo session, the main thing to keep in mind is that your outfits should always communicate intention. Every piece you wear needs to make sense from head to toe. Do not just add accessories for the sake of adding accessories. Less is more. Keep colours exact and complementary. Whites are not all made the same. Polish is in the details.
Head to my Pinterest account for outfit ideas for your winter photo session
So I’ve been getting this request a lot recently. Snow is absolutely STUNNING, but it introduces a whole host of logistical issues.
First of all, snow is only pretty when it’s freshly fallen. If you’re in the city, you have to do the shoot when it’s actively falling, or first thing in the morning before people trample the snow, the cars run over it and dogs pee all over it. Yellow snow does not evoke feelings of romance in my opinion. So you have to be flexible with your schedule. When planning your winter photo session, think if you want an urban look or a nature-y look. Snow allows dead trees to come alive again for one final session. Snow makes everything magical.
Light is another consideration with snow sessions. The above photo was taken when it had snowed previously but it was a clear day with sun streaming through. Oftentimes snow comes with overcast lighting. This makes it difficult to plan an exact time to start our session. I generally love sunset and sunrise sessions for outdoor photography, but if it’s overcast, I need the extra light to make your skin-tones flattering. So we need to start about 1-2 hours after sunrise/before sunset.
If it’s overcast, the light will be flatter and it won’t have that golden look. But don’t fret, it’ll still look breathtaking. Below is an example of a session that took place at around 8:30am start time.
So everyone asks me when to have the session and the true answer is I have no idea. Forecasts are notoriously inaccurate. When there is a large weather system moving in, those tend to be more accurate. I usually have a 3-5 day advance notice if a nor’easter is coming to town. This will give us enough time to get in touch and finalize details. This means you need your outfits ahead of time and locations determined. Contracts already need to have been signed before I even consider planning logistics and being on-call. If you wait to the last minute, it will only lead to failure. I cannot stress preparedness enough. When it’s a normal snow system, you might get 1-2 days notice. Then it becomes a waiting game.
With snow, fresh falling snow only looks pretty when there are large chunks coming down. High winds and small particles of snow look terrible and you’ll just be fighting your hair the whole time. This is the trickiest condition to plan for (actively snowing conditions). This is an ‘on-call’ situation. This means you just have to be ready to go when this happens. I don’t mind being on call but that means you have to be available at a moment’s notice as well. Good snow conditions can change by the minute. We can check the cloud/storm system via radar and the forecasted wind conditions to make sure the variables are lined up for us. I cannot obviously guarantee pretty snowfall. If we go for it, we go for it. I’ll always just do my best to make it work.
The more practical session is the day after a big storm. This way the ground is covered, but we don’t have to plan for the falling snow aesthetic. This means an early morning session, or we head to the middle of nowhere/non-urban location where there isn’t a lot of foot traffic and hope for the best and a later afternoon session.
If you have a good backyard with pretty backgrounds in all directions, then this will work all times of the day. Just don’t trample it too much by letting the dog out before the session. If this is your plan, please send me photos of your yard ahead of time taken during daylight (either before 9am or after 2pm). High-noon photos tell me nothing about the direction of night. Also, sending photos taken from another time of the year also is not helpful as your greenery won’t look the same in summer as it does in the winter. All of these will help me prepare for a winter photo session.
Hand and foot warmers are lifesavers for me when I hit the slopes. I also jam them into my pockets and mittens when headed out for photo sessions. I got a box on Amazon, but you can find them at local outdoor retailers too like REI
If you wear makeup normally, invest in hair and makeup as it makes a world of difference in the final product looking polished. Just like how you could ask uncle Bob to take your engagement photos, you’ve decided to hire a professional to take your photos instead. Professionals elevate the everyday and that goes for makeup and hair artists as well. There are apps where artists can come to you (like Glamsquad), or head to a trusted makeup counter. In times of COVID-19, I would hesitate to recommend going to the mall unless they have sanitation procedures in place. If you’re doing your own hair and makeup, study the masters on youtube.
When planning for shooting in snow/winter conditions, light is very harsh in the winter sometimes. The snow reflects light back onto your face (which is lovely- but washes you out). So the main thing to consider for makeup is definition. Make sure you have a strong brow and lash-line. These will define your features. I personally don’t have any brows/eyelashes so this is always my main concern. Play up your best features – just know that the snow will mute shadows/contouring. Another thing to note is waterproof mascara. When it gets cold and the wind whips, you don’t want to tear up and look like a streaked raccoon.
Snow will bring yucky snow conditions and if you have street parking like me, you’ll have to consider snow emergency parking and shoveling the snow off your car. All of this takes extra time. If you don’t plan a buffer for these extra tasks, you will be late for the session. I cannot emphasize how much planning is needed for a snow session. Do not speed in snow goes without saying so you want to plan to get there with time to spare.
As long as you are realistic with what can be accomplished outdoors, in deep snow while you are frozen, you’ll be so happy with the results. Before the session, it’s best to organize some ideas of your goals and we can figure out if they’re realistic given the location choice and amount of time in the location. Just know that you will be slower trekking in the snow. You will have a shorter window of comfort because of the cold. Things will not look necessarily like how you envision unless you scope it out before the session. Snow can be deep, it can be soft, it can be frozen over. We won’t know until we get there and the snow has fallen.
Have a look at some sample galleries to inspire you for your outdoor winter session in the Boston area:
I’ll be adding more galleries here once they’re uploaded. If you have any questions, never hesitate to reach out.
Darker homes look rich and full of warmth. Feel free to play off this direction with a similar palette such as jewel tones, and other colours inspired by nature. Think fall colours, rustic influences.
If your home is somewhere in between dark and rich, and bright and airy then feel free to play in either direction. Whites reflect light and bring attention to you and fill in any dark shadows you might have from being a parent to a newborn. It’s also quite forgiving and looks great against backlight of a window. I adore patterns, so mix things up and go bold with something unexpected if you have a feature in your home, such as some stunning wallpaper.
Fun and colourful is where you can play. If your home has fun elements, then embrace them either with complementary shades or brighten things up more with playful elements such as socks. Look to your home to inspire you. If your home is fun, don’t wear something stuffy like business shirts. My preference actually is for t-shirts and casual wear.
Light and airy is the easiest. If you have white walls they can act as a blank canvas. Feel free to either introduce colours, or keep the tone the same by matching with lighter toned clothing. Look at how the families have matched tones and fabrics, but not to the point of being matchy-matchy. Subtle patterns can be introduced to make the look more casual, or go bold with bright colours.
To see some of my at-home newborn sessions, be sure to visit my blog!
“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”
bright and airy homes for lifestyle newborn sessions in Boston
What to wear for outdoor family pictures can be a nerve-racking thought. In my work as a professional photographer, diversity and individuality are what I love to emphasize to families. You should be yourselves in your family photoshoot! A lot of the information out there on how to dress for success is pretty dated. They emphasize matching from head to toe. I don’t subscribe to this way of thinking. Each family and each person should build towards a larger picture. Matching exactly creates sterility that can be quite jarring. Building a wardrobe can be tricky. But, read on for advice on how to dress for your outdoor family pictures. When you sign your contracts with me, my clients will also receive access to a wardrobe planning portal new for 2019. To make best use of the tool, please ensure you access it a couple of weeks before your session because shipping times vary for different online purveyors.
If you’re on Pinterest, follow me under Bella Wang Photography.
Boston Family Photographer tips on how to dress for outdoor family fall session
Cooler temperatures are on the horizon. It’s best to plan to layer the young ones in outfits that will keep them warm. A cold baby is a cranky baby. Pinterest misleads us all with their mild winters photographed in Charleston, South Carolina. New England gets cold as many of you have noticed. Mornings are much colder than the forecasted highs of the day. Check the weather by hour if you want to get a sense of actual temperatures for your session.
If you aren’t a fan of chunky winter coats (and I am not a fan of fluorescent ski jackets), then layering is your friend. Build from the ground up with long underwear, shirts, sweaters and vests. The weather in New England is what I would call unpredictable. It could be balmy and warm one day in October, and really cold the next. Have the pieces ready to build your outfit! If we luck out with a warm spell, return any unused items you may have purchased for the session. You don’t want to run out to buy things last minute.
Often times we’re given inspiration by the places we’re photographing in. It’s pretty obvious when you have some fun street art. The family below nails it with the reds and blues seen in the mural. When in nature, try to choose colours you would find in nature. New England’s signature colours are also red, white and blue if all else fails. In the layered outfits above, you can see tones of jewels and autumn peppered throughout. Nothing is artificial and jarring such as a misplaced coral, fluorescent orange, fuchsia, or bright teal.
The issue as well with fluorescent colours such as coral is they reflect tones into the skin that are very unflattering. To test, stand by the window and put the fabric by your child’s face. If you are seeing ghastly shades of hot pink on their cheeks, it’s best to avoid that article of clothing. My favourite colours for fall are colors like crimson. Aubergine (eggplant), emerald, navies, yellows, and rusty oranges work as well! Especially when they’re mixed with neutrals such as greys and creams. Pick up to two colours unless you’re an expert, and mix with neutrals for a put together look.
As you can see in the gallery above and below, families aren’t too matching. They have a colour that runs through their outfits. This brings a coherent look to the final product. Each outfit has its own unique spin and interpretation. This unique element is key to pulling off the look. Something as simple as your child’s favourite toy can define the look of your session. We can see it with the Elmo doll above.
If your colour is blue, you can express that in a sweater, a pair of long socks, or jeans. If red is your defining colour, then a bright bow on the baby’s head can tie into a bright sweater of the exact same tone. Or, you can have the red of the father’s plaid shirt. Make sure your reds match and your whites/creams match. There is a large difference between a warm/gold white and a cool/silver white. That is key to taking an outfit from 80% to the final 100% session ready status. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me a photo of your outfits! It makes it easy if they’re laid out on the bed/floor taken using natural daylight and I can give you feedback.
An outdated tip: Black is minimizing. This is especially untrue if you’ve dressed the entire family in brighter colours and you’re the only one in black. Your eye will go directly to the person that is different. Black works in that it hides shadows and highlights that show our shape. You can, however, use it to your advantage if you’re self-conscious about your core. Add something fun and bright like a scarf or fun boots that will pull the look of the family all together. It will also draw the eye away from the wigglier bits.
The same location with different outfits will give completely different final looks to the session. These three sessions were basically within a few days of each other at the very same park. You could never tell that because each family expresses themselves in their own way. My sessions are always child led and are always evolving based on what children do.
Texture is very important it’s often overlooked. It communicates feeling through sensing. You want your family to be in matching textures in that one member cannot be in say a summery linen and the other members in warm flannel. Knits can easily pair with plaids and velvets because they all communicate warmth in their similarity of textures. Fabric textures also lend to draping and shape. If everyone is in something quite structured and one member goes for a bohemian and flowy vibe, then it won’t look like a family unit. If you ever have issues with this, take a look at how mannequins are styled in front of stores when they’re placed next to one another. Window displays are coordinated by professional stylists at the top of their game. Use it as inspiration to build your own coordinated outfits.
If your daughter hates bows and won’t leave them in her hair, then plan an outfit that doesn’t need the bow. Let go of “perfection”. Let her be who she is. 10 years from now, will you care she had the bow and spent half the session trying to rip it out?Or will you remember her smiling face looking at you? Make sure her hair is tidy and neat like how you want it to be. Same goes for stockings – will she immediately run for the dirt and turn them brown and black? Then, white stockings aren’t a good foundation for her outfit.
Don’t get your face done full of makeup if you’ve never done a test run. Make sure you love the final look because you want to be able to recognize yourself. If you are self conscious about any body parts, feel free to ask me about what would be flattering. This will also give me a heads-up when posing you for the session. I don’t hide moms as I think everyone is beautiful and should be featured equally. But, if this is important to you, please say something so I will work this into our posing. There are simple things to think about. Like if you don’t like your arms but love your legs, sleeveless is not a good option, but a dress with a slit is. It’d be awesome to draw attention to you and can make all the difference in how you feel.
Pinterest isn’t just for finding poses or cute ideas for props. It can be a great resource as well for planning outfits and picking out themes. Some Instagram accounts I suggest following for children’s wear include the following brands: @adenandanais , @tinycottons , @rocketsofawesome , @gapkids , @picklesnroses , @freshlypicked , @oeufnyc , @zarakids , @hm_kids , @mangokids , @cottononkidsua , @janieandjack , @mimiandlula . If you want to shop local, Kodomo has a couple of locations in town and worth checking out. I’m a sucker for a good TJ Maxx find, so it’s worth digging through there as well. If you pick a big brand like Zara or H&M, there is a matching adult’s line that will be easy to match. Try to find all outfits at one store or brand and it’ll be that much easier. For adults there are cheaper lines out there, like ASOS or Lulu’s where you can find statement pieces for under $50 that might be similar to beautiful gowns you may find at other popular stores like Free People or Anthropologie. There’s a wealth of knowledge and inspiration out there. Happy hunting!
Know the limits of your expertise and know when to ask for help. I’m here to answer any questions you might have.
The preparation is what allows the success to happen naturally.
For links to successful fall family sessions, please click through these posts to see What to Wear for Outdoor Family Pictures:
Family 1 <blog link
Family 2 <blog link
Family 3 <blog link
For additional tips, head over to my new post about coordinating and planning your family’s outfits. The most important tip may not be what you thought! BLOG POST