How to Dress for Winter Photos: What to wear & bring with you for your next winter photo session

Bride walking with bouquet outdoors at Fairmont Banff Springs

This is a guide on how to to dress for outdoor photos during the winter while staying warm, cute, and showcasing that you don’t have to resort to dressing like a marshmallow or a sleeping bag (unless that’s a part of your look)!

The categories of this guide is broken up by temperature, and while this is what I confidently recommend to my clients, everyone has different tolerances for the cold.

So let’s get to it!

General considerations for any temperature for Winter Photos

  • Protecting skin that turns red to the cold is key, such as noses, cheeks and ears, though rosy cheeks outside in the snow. When it comes to protecting your ears, individuals with longer hair may want to wear something like earmuffs instead of a toque, to prevent hair from getting mussed up.
  • If you are applying any product to your face such as lotion to protect from the wind, make sure to apply it well in advanced so it dries down, as something as a slightly tacky face can cause the wind to feel more abrasive against your skin.
  • Depending on the type of photo session you have booked, we can split up the time between an indoor and outdoor location. I recommend starting indoors before heading outside, especially if you have little ones, as they have a lower tolerance for the cold and may become fussy after outdoor photos. If we start outdoors and then move indoors we may run the risk of not getting the photos we want.
  • If a photo session is to last more than 20 minutes outside in the winter, I like to have a plan prior to heading outdoors, as it will allow us to maximize amount of time especially on the really cold days.
  • When it to comes to winter photos, patience is also key as with colder temperatures we might have to take breaks in between certain scenes in order for her fingers and toes to warm up before keep moving on.
  • Having things that can keep you warm such as larger jackets, blankets, and hand and toe warmers are great to help stay warm during breaks, and are easy to throw off and put back on.
Man kissing woman on cheek at surprise proposal in Edmonton

Winter Photos at 0°C+

If you live in Alberta (like me!), or the prairies, or anywhere with mountains, you know that above 0°C in the winter time is great time to be outdoors. While acclimatization does have to take place for your body and feel comfortable wearing a lighter jacket around this temperature, without wind-chill, I find photos fairly doable in one large chunk, versus some of the colder days where breaks to warm up in the car may be necessary.

I recommend wearing thin layers and thermal underwear such as Uniqlo’s heat tech line which has really good breathability while allowing you to stay really warm and snug, and the thickness of the materials allows for easy layering whether it’s a larger knit sweater, a dress, or otherwise on top.

If you want to build a scene for your winter photos such as hanging out around a fire with hot chocolate blankets, this is the temperature to do it in as will be able to hang out for longer stretches of time and then if we were trying to create the same magic at -25C.

Winter Engagement Ideas Edmonton, Alberta

Winter Photos at -5°C to -10°C

At this temperature range, layering up with thermal underwear top and bottom will become more key if we’re planning a more extended session in the outdoors.

Scarves, turtlenecks, and wool socks are always a welcome addition to stay toasty warm.

Session length may come down to levels of cold tolerance that everyone has, but know that I always come up with a plan so we can always make the most of our time together.

Winter Photos at -15° to -25°C

Around this temperature, it is key to have an indoor location as a backup – especially if you have little ones or it is your wedding day (unless you’re ready to brave the cold with me or we’re in the mountains!)

This is when having extra-large jacket and fleece or fuzzy blankets are always a great addition to throw on between breaks. For events like weddings, I recommend for anyone not wearing a suit, to make sure to have something like a blanket or a fur stole incorporated into the outfit to stay warm during the winter photos, especially if there are dresses with bare shoulders involved.

If you’re wearing a dress, wear tights the same colour, as it will allow for less contrast in your outfit unless you specifically want them to show as an accessory or detail. Alternatively, wearing a dress with no slit can help hide anything you’re wearing underneath.

While boots like uggs are super warm, try to find boots that are on the dressier side that match your outfit, as it can aid in pulling your outfit together.

As we’re taking more breaks and spending less time outside than if we were taking photos in 0° temperatures, I like to walk you through a scene that so we can create a range of images with movement and poses as efficiently as possible while still making it fun.

Pink and red bridal bouquet sitting on snow

And honest, unless it’s a wedding day or a concept that has to be done in very specific time frame, if your session is taking place below -15° C and you have a lower tolerance for the cold, I would recommend rescheduling to a warmer day, because as much as I believe you will never remember how old you were when we took the photos, I also don’t want you to feel miserable leaving the shoot. The most important thing is to have fun regardless of the temperature, and feeling uplifted and confident is something I want you to walk away with after our time together.

I hope this helps you in dressing up for when you head out into the blustery outdoors for your winter photos, and if you’re looking to book in a session that is filled with fun, intention, and captures the essence of you, let’s book in a photo session with a tailored experience for you.

How to Dress for Winter Photos