Wedding Planning Tips

November 30, 2019

Winter Portrait Session Guide | Virginia Lifestyle Photographer

Winter Portrait Session Guide | Virginia Photographer

Each year I tend to take on a very limited number of winter sessions. At the moment, the majority of my shoots take place on-location in the outdoors. With unpredictable weather and lack of greenery, many couples and families prefer waiting until spring to update their photos.

However, there are a few ways you can successfully schedule a winter portrait session! Read more below if this is something you’re interested in.

One note: Keep in mind, these are all based on portrait sessions in Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland. If you’re planning a session in another part of the country, you’ll want to check on the typical weather if you’re not local. If you’re planning a destination session with me, I’ll do the research for you!


Planning for the weather

As you can imagine, winter sessions can be unpredictable as far as the weather is concerned. With cold temperatures and potential snowstorms, scheduling is a little more challenging. If it’s too cold or there are any storms, you can reschedule your session to a new date on my calendar. I don’t want to put any of us at risk!

old town Alexandria winter engagement photo


There are quite a few winter spots I recommend! If you’re looking for holiday charm, Old Town Alexandria and Georgetown are top contenders. Historic Leesburg also has a charming downtown area.

You can also try an indoor location. The National Portrait Gallery (pictured below) has a light-filled indoor courtyard. It offers the benefits of staying warm inside while still getting natural light in your photos – and it tends to have greenery. You can view more National Portrait Gallery photos here.

I’ve had couples choose meaningful locations, like their favorite local bar, cafe or coffee shop. You do need to get permission for us to shoot there, so make sure you double check before booking. Sometimes it’s convenient to do part of the session at one of these indoor locations, and then stepping outside for a few more.

If you are interested in doing an indoor studio session, let me know! There are several local spaces we can rent, allowing you to get beautiful photos without braving the cold.

For more ideas, check out my lists of favorite locations:



What to Wear

I always recommend choosing an ensemble that keeps you warm while still staying in line with your general style. There are a couple ways to do this. One option is to find a coat or jacket you love and plan your outfit around it. You can even add in a cute scarf or hat if you want to accessorize!

Another option is to bring a warm coat with you, taking it off throughout the session so you only see your regular outfit in the photos. This does depend on how cold it is, since I don’t want anyone to freeze! If it’s too cold for this option, you may want to consider an indoor location or a session that’s half inside and half outside to get the best of both worlds.

The Best Time to Book Your Session

I highly recommend choosing December for a winter session if you can for a couple reasons! If you want a holiday feel, it’s really easy to find greenery and decor in many places around Virginia and DC. It often is a little warm than January and February, so that can help as well if you’re worried about being cold.

Because of the colder temperatures, I currently don’t offer sunrise sessions during the winter. It’s just too chilly for everyone! Afternoon sessions are a little warmer since the sun has been out all day. Also, the sun sets much earlier in the winter so take that into consideration.

More Winter Portrait Tips

Bringing extra accessories like hats, gloves and hand warmers can be a lifesaver on these days. It can get very cold, so you want to make sure you’re safe from the elements as much as possible. If you don’t like how your gloves look, you can take them off for the photos, then put them on as we walk to the next location. Hand warmers are also a great idea to bring in your pockets!

It’s best to schedule these early, especially if you’re looking at early December! Between my wedding calendar and travel for the holidays, my days fill up quickly. If you want to use them for Christmas cards, I recommend scheduling them in November to ensure you have enough time to receive the edited photos, order cards and mail them out in time for the holidays. Also, I take a very limited number of winter sessions each year, so it’s best to ensure you get a spot on my calendar!



Fall Portrait Session Guide

Spring Portrait Session Guide

Summer Portrait Session Guide

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