There’s nothing more magical than a photo shoot in the snow, so why not embrace the winter wonderland when planning your engagement photos?
Festive, seasonal, and even holiday-inspired, a wintery engagement session is the perfect option for couples seeking an added touch of enchantment to their engagement photos. Plus, the romance of holding each other close while fresh snow falls around you will make you that much more excited to plan your big day together and finally say “I do.”
But planning a winter engagement shoot doesn’t come without its challenges. After all, snow generally means it’s chilly outside, and you’ll want to make sure you have your session planned out so you’re not out in the cold too long. For the best tips and tricks, we consulted some of the wedding industry’s top photographers, offering their advice on bracing the cold, layering up, and scouting out your city’s best holiday decor. Read on for expert tips on how to get flawless winter engagement photos, while embracing the most wonderful time of the year.
Showcase Fallen Snow
Photographer KT Merry traveled to Chicago with one of her couples in January hoping for snow. “When we arrived, the ground was covered in dirty slush and was hardly beautiful,” says Merry. “But in the afternoon, our wish was granted, and it began to snow.” With a wintry mix, temperatures can drop quickly but don’t let that deter you from embracing the elements for your photos.
Strategize Staying Warm
Shooting in the winter in New York City is undeniably romantic. Jon and Brittani Hon, founders of The Hons, suggest planning out your engagement session to strategize staying warm. “We enjoy starting these sessions inside, either at a café, a bar, or inside of the couple’s apartment,” they say. “We move to a second location after getting all bundled up to get those iconic outdoor shots looking warm and cozy...and we are sure to always keep moving!"
Dress the Part
“Nothing reflects the light better than a pristine blanket of snow,” says Ashley Sawtelle, owner of Ashley Sawtelle, who emphasizes the importance of a warm winter wardrobe. “Don’t forget to dress the part, snuggle in, and move around to stay warm.”
Utilize Your Location
“When the weather turns cold, cozy up in your favorite sweater or jacket and take photos close to home,” suggests Kat Braman. “From snuggling up on the couch with your sweetheart to strolling under holiday lights, winter is the perfect time to document your love where you spend the most time together,” Braman says. For this couple, some of New York City’s favored spots served as the perfect backdrop for their photos.
Embrace Holiday Decor
One of the most valuable aspects of shooting winter engagement photos is being able to indulge in your city’s holiday decor. “Why not utilize the festive pieces around your environment and incorporate them into your session’s backdrop,” says Sara Wight, owner of Sara Wight Photography. For this wintery couple, a giant decorative wreath was the perfect focal point for their engagement photos.
Pile on the Layers
Be sure to bring extra layers and accessories along with you to provide warmth and even serve as an unconventional prop. “A lot of my couples are worried about what to do with their hands,” says Britt, owner of BrittRene Photography. “Play with a hat, scarf, or big cozy jacket when taking your photos,” she suggests. Not only will incorporating these into your photos create a playful prop, but it will give you some extra hand placement options.
Take Advantage of Crowd-Free Locations
Melani Lust, owner of Melani Lust Photography, points out that one of the most significant benefits to winter engagement photos is the lack of crowds. “Some of the best spots are empty, so this gives us a lot of wonderful options for scenery,” says Lust. “We can direct our couples with more movement because the odds are there won't be people in the background to avoid.”
Add a Pop of Color
For this couple, a bright red umbrella served as an unexpected pop of color, perfect for shielding fallen snow as well as complementing the all-white backdrop. “Sometimes, props or unplanned moments can result in the most stunning final photos,” says Roey Yohai, owner of Roey Yohai Studios. Develop a color scheme for your attire prior to your session to create a gorgeously coordinated look.
Hold Each Other Close
Another awesome advantage of cold-weather photo shoots? Photographer Jenny Fu of Jenny Fu Studio says, "One of the best things about having a winter engagement session besides the beautiful changing color of the leaves or winter white snow is that the couple is freezing and have to hold each other tightly to keep warm." The end result is super cozy photos where your "love and emotion for each other" shines bright.
Do Your Favorite Activity Together
As a competitive figure skater and as a collegiate hockey player, it was only fitting that this couple's engagement shoot happened on ice! If you plan to tackle the outdoors, doing your favorite winter sport with your partner, photographer Liz Banfield always recommends having a plan for staying warm. "Be sure to have a plan that allows you to get inside to warm up at a moment’s notice — even if that’s just a nearby car or your BFF waiting off-camera with a big blanket," says Banfield. "Relatedly, hand-warmers are an inexpensive way to get more time outside."
Frankly, the best way to beat the cold is to pose inside! This couple chose their New York City apartment to start the session before venturing outside to a few nearby locations. "I love photographing clients in their homes because it becomes more of a portrait of this time in their lives — when and how their relationship began, rather than just a wedding story," explains Edward Winter of READYLUCK. Another secret for killer photos? "Don’t look at the camera," he says.
Play in the Snow
"We gave them no instructions here. This is just the two of them truly being themselves and that is what we are always after — capturing them exactly as they are," says James and Otto of James x Schulze. "These two had so much vibe between them it was marvelous. Throughout the shoot they would just start playing...you could feel how much they just truly enjoy one another." So, if you consider yourself a playful couple, don't be afraid to let loose with your love (and maybe even throw a snowball or two).
Choose a Sentimental Spot
If you have a sentimental location with picturesque views, use it! This couple chose to hold their engagement photo session on the grounds of their family ranch in Colorado. "It was a perfect, sunny day after it had snowed, offering blue skies, outdoor time, and beautiful views," shares photographer Ashley Sawtelle. "Also having an indoor location with great natural light to warm up in will provide variety (and warmth!) in your session."