Capturing the perfect family portrait can be a challenge at any time of year, but winter sessions bring their own unique set of considerations. As a photographer with over a decade of experience here in the Lake Tahoe area, I’ve navigated numerous winter portrait sessions, learning valuable lessons along the way. Although
fall tends to be prime time for family photos, for those of us who love the snow, or simply vacation here over the holidays, winter can be a beautiful backdrop for your Tahoe family portraits. That being said, I’ve got some essential tips to help you manage expectations and ensure a successful and enjoyable winter family photo shoot.
1. Hire a pro.
Before you try to set up a phone on timer to get a photo of the fam, STOP.
The value of hiring a professional photographer extends beyond the (multiple) awesome photos you’ll get of your family. Embarrassed by your crazy family and don’t think you’ll be able to wrangle everyone in for a session? Think again. We’re pros. Which means we’ve seen it all. Uncomfortable relationship dynamics, sibling fights, challenging partnerships—we get it, and we’ll do our best to make sure everyone feels at ease in front of the camera. Take a breath, we’ve got this.
2. Check the weather…and plan for it to change.
Before you plan your shoot, check out where the weather tends to fall on the day you’re aiming for…and know that it could very well change. Winter weather can be unpredictable, with unexpected snowfall or temperature fluctuations. Things we know for sure: it gets darker (around 4:30 p.m.) and colder earlier in the day. Flexibility and patience are essential. Book your session for as early in your vacation time that you can which will give you some contingency wiggle room in the case of inclement weather. Plan to book your session around sunrise or sunset if lake views are important, and bring hand and foot warmers if you tend to get cold. Want extra warmth? Bring a blanket—it makes for a cozy prop if you choose!
3. Dress appropriately.
I can’t believe I have to say this, but dress warm. If there’s snow on the ground, you’re going to need a warm coat, hats, gloves, and layers. Make sure your shoes or boots are waterproof to keep your feet warm. Whether or not you decide to keep all your layers on for the shot is up to you, but chances are, we’re going to head to a snowy area with a beautiful backdrop, so come prepared. Remember, staying cozy is key to achieving natural and relaxed smiles. Miserable people make for miserable looking grimaces in photos.
On that note, you’ll want to be sure you’re not matching too closely. Opt for layers in coordinating colors to not only stay warm but also to create a visually pleasing ensemble. Browse Pinterest for winter photoshoot clothing color palettes and pattern ideas. Mixing it up gives everyone in your family an opportunity to express themselves in their own way. Need more help? I have more tips for how to prepare for a low stress family portrait session and what to wear on my blog already.
4. Plan for tantrums.
If you follow me on IG, you know that #lifeishard, especially when you’re a kid. More so than with summer sessions, kids are impatient in the winter. They’re cold, it’s possible you’re also cold, and they’re likely to to be fussy about it. Bring snacks or their favorite toy to keep them comfortable and happy. I don’t recommend trying to force good behavior or smiles—some of the best shots come from letting kids be kids: walking around, (9 times out of 10) tripping and falling, picking things up, and coming to their people for comfort. These authentic moments feel less stressful for the entire family, and they look way better in photos, too.
5. Embrace Winter Sports and Hobbies:
Take advantage of the winter wonderland by incorporating your family’s love for skiing or other snow sports into your portrait session. Whether it’s hitting the slopes together or capturing candid moments of your family enjoying a snowball fight, making snow angels, or sledding together, embracing winter activities can add a unique and personal touch to your family photos. The dynamic and energetic nature of winter sports can result in candid, spirited shots that truly reflect your family’s passion for the season. By infusing your love for winter activities into the session, you’ll create portraits that tell a story and evoke memories of the special moments you share as a family in the vacation destination you love – Lake Tahoe!
Looking for a Lake Tahoe photographer for your winter family portrait session? Check out my portrait packages and reach out to book your session.