Updated: Jan 9
How snow can work really well for your winter family photo session
Winter. It's sort of like Marmite. You either love it or hate it! Sure, most choose the warmer seasons for their family photography session but have you actually considered saving the date for when there's a need for double-socking rather than sporting some shorts and a t-shirt?
Winter is about to start as I write this on November 29th.
December is full of anticipation and excitement. Looking forward to Christmas certainly takes the edge off those shorter, darker days we sometimes struggle to get through.
When it comes to thinking about having your family photo session outdoors, Spring and Summer are by far the most popular times. We want that dreamy ideal of our children running through fields of wild flowers in light, billowing summer dresses which of course is lovely, but have you ever considered January or February for your photo session? It can be a great choice. Photographers tend to have more space in their diaries during the colder months therefore it's more likely you will be able to reschedule if you need to. However, there is one big reason, and it's this;
The Low Winter Sun is stunning for your winter family photography
The number one thing about saving Winter for your family photo shoot is the light. Photographers relish beautiful, magical, natural light. It gets us all tingly with excitement!
In summer when bookings get busy, you need to either have your shoot first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening to benefit from that soft glowing light. In winter, the sun sets much earlier on in the day, therefore you don't need to worry about getting the kids to bed late.
The soft, filtered light in Winter will give you amazing hair halos and light up your breath on the coldest days. Even when the sun isn't out there is still a lovely quality to the light that you just don't get other times of the year.
What to wear for your family winter photoshoot
"There's no such thing as bad weather,
just bad clothing."
Ever true to his word is Billy Connolly.
It's miserable being cold, so the better prepared you are the more you and the children will enjoy the photo shoot, rather than thinking about losing the feeling in your poor cold toes.
Layer it up. Now, I'm not talking about Joey from Friends in the one where everyone is trying to get ready. That's taking it to the extreme, but several thin layers are more effective than fewer thicker layers and it also means that you can peel a layer off easily. Oh, make sure the layers are breathable. We don't want a big sweat fest. So for example, a couple of thin, breathable layers and one thicker one like a sweater over that, then your jacket. That's your core sorted.
Hands and feet
What about those more vunerable extremities? Your fingers and toes are always the first things to get cold, so think gloves and warm socks. Double sock! A thin pair then a thicker pair over the top. Mittens are actually warmer than fingered gloves so that's a good option especially for kids. Avoid wellies unless they are fur lined as your feet can get super cold in the unlined ones from lack of insulation!
Inject some colour
The brighter tones seem to drain out of nature in the winter, therefore choosing something colourful in your clothing as well as cozy will add some fun and playfulness to your pictures. Think bobble hats, chunky woollen scarves, ear muffs and snowsuits for younger kids.
The more muted tones of a Winter's landscape can be a fantastic neutral backdrop to beautiful photos in that the people in those photos really stand out when wearing bright colours.
how snow can work really well for your winter family photos
No shortage of activities for kids
You will be incredibly if there is snow on the ground on the day of your photo session! Snow is everything you could wish for when it comes to winter photos. As long as it's not a full scale blizzard, the session will proceed. Excitement and snow just go together for children and it's an opportunity to capture some really wondrous expressions of sheer delight on their faces. There are lots of snow activities to keep them engaged. Snow angels, snow ball fights, building a snowman... so much fun! Don't forget your sledge.
I just let the kids get on with playing and be the observer whether it's blowing snow from their hands or eating it! That's the other thing, seeing kids checking out snow for the very first time is a wonderful thing to capture.
Snow is a natural reflector
In addition, snow is a natural reflector so that means some wonderful white light bouncing back into your faces to take away those shadows.
What to bring and how to keep warm - Top Tips
There is a lot to say about having an outdoor family photo shoot in the coldest season of the year. Living in Scotland, talking about the weather is a daily thing; we always have something to say about it. "It's too hot!" or "It was so cold this morning!" But, is it too cold for an outdoor photo session?
In a word, no! We can fix feeling cold :-)
Keep moving with some games. Having your session out doors in the cold will naturally make you want to keep moving. Usually that's not a problem for younger children as it's usually hard to keep them still but the last thing you want is them standing about saying they are cold.
I'm talking aeroplanes, dad hanging the kids upside down, piggy backs, racing towards the camera, Simon Says, tickle fights! By doing this you get lots of engagement and interactions that are natural. The best time for me to press the shutter.
Bring a hot water bottle
If it's really cold then nestle one under your coat if you aren't the one being photographed for a few moments. Bliss.
Cosy up under a blanket
A toasty warm blanket is a must. Wrap the whole family up in this blanket and it will not only be fun for the wee ones but will be super cosy and make a fantastic photo :-)
Bring a flask of hot chocolate or tea to have half way through your session. A nice treat as well as keeping your hands warm. Plus, kids having hot chocolates with siblings/mum and dad is a great photo in itself!
Dry spare clothing
Bring extra pairs of socks and gloves in case the others get wet for whatever reason. More likely this will ensure your outdoor winter photo session isn't cut short because of half frozen extremities.
Last but by no means lease, what better way to keep toasty than lots of warm hugs! Getting close to the ones you love will result in heartwarming and spontaneous images of your wonderful family.
4 location ideas for your outdoor winter photo session in Edinburgh & Lothians
Anywhere that has woodland sun shining through the trees with loads of space to run around for the kids.
You may want to consider somewhere that has a car park not too far away from the shoot location. A quick walk back to the car to get warm is way better than a longer walk after an hour's photo session. (I try to keep them to an hour in very cold weather as longer than that and wee ones will start to fade!)