The holidays are a great time to capture beautiful solo or family portraits. There’s nothing better than providing quality portraits that showcase love and a cozy winter feeling. The winter is a great time to take advantage of the beautiful landscape and seasonal changes that will help you capture the spirit and essence of wintertime.
If you don’t live in a state with seasonal changes, you can easily replicate a similar winter scene in the studio. Continue reading to learn how to improve your winter portrait photography to elevate your skills and wow your clients.
Use Festive Props
Using festive winter-appropriate props is an excellent way to improve your winter portraits. Props add a fun and interactive element to the experience and to the portraits. Not only are props fun to use, but they also add texture, contrast, and visual interest to the subject and the set.
If you’re shooting winter portraits for children, props are a great way to keep them distracted so they won’t fret and cry during the session. Children will love the props, and parents will adore the outcome. Even if you’re shooting adults, props can give the client something to do and make them feel more relaxed during the shoot.
Here are a few excellent props for a winter portrait session:
- Real or fake snow
- Christmas tree
- Fake Christmas presents
- Christmas lights
- Candy canes
- Teddy bears
- Fun holiday-themed glasses
- Huge shopping bags
- Hot chocolate
Elevate your shoot and set the scene with these awesome winter-themed props.
Have a Seasonal Wardrobe for Subjects
Providing a seasonally appropriate wardrobe for your clients is a great way to get excellent portrait shots. This can range from sweaters and turtlenecks to patterned pajamas, Santa suits, and reindeer costumes for the children. You can even go as far as to provide scarves, mittens, and hats to make sure your subjects stay warm and well protected during the shoot.
Providing wardrobe pieces may also make it easier for you to establish or execute a specific color palette or theme.
Use the Sun to Your Advantage
If you’re shooting your winter portrait outdoors, it’s essential to use the sun to your advantage. During the winter months, the sun may be shy, and it may not be as bright as you need it to be. You should plan ahead by checking the weather forecast and choosing the times of day to shoot where the sun is at its peak.
Use the sunlight to capture your subject in natural light and space. Be sure to use a reflector if needed to eliminate any unflattering shadows. If there’s snow sticking to the ground, the sun may wash it out, so be sure to address this when doing touchups and coloring in the later stages of the photo process.
Use Nature as Your Background
The winter months are not often seen as a beautiful time for nature. Leaves are falling and going bare, and bushes aren’t often in full bloom with lush greens and vibrant colors. However, it can still make for a beautiful and eye-catching scene.
If there’s snow present and a few grand trees around, use this scene and create a moody yet beautiful composition by having your subjects wear contrasting colors such as forest green, red, or black. Your subjects will stand out beautifully in the winter scene, and you can use the surrounding nature to your advantage. There are also numerous activities that you can do in the snow to capture breathing-taking portraits.
Here are a few poses and activities to try:
- Blowing the snow
- Making snow angels
- Building a snowman
- Tossing snow in the air
- Placing the star on a Christmas tree
- Playing with their pet
- Huddling around a campfire
- Romantic poses with a partner
- Enjoying hot cocoa
- Cozy picnic on the back of a pickup truck
- Santa meet-and-greet theme
There are many ways to take advantage of the season to capture beautiful winter- or holiday-themed photos.
Build a Seasonal Set
If it’s too cold to do an outdoor portrait session, you can get creative and build a winter set in your own studio. Depending on your client’s needs and the desired theme, you can put together a set using a customized background, some props, and a good wardrobe. For example, for a cozy Christmas day set, you could use a background with a fireplace featured on it, a fake Christmas tree, fake presents, and a red velvet couch for your clients to pose on.
These sets may require a lot of work, but the results are satisfying and rewarding. You can use the same set for all your clients for the season or switch it up depending on their wants and needs. You can opt for something else, like a manger set with hay and a fake animal, or you can go simple and have a velvet couch with presents.
Building a set is an excellent way to save yourself time and take beautiful winter photos inside.
Use a Winter Photo Backdrop
A winter photo backdrop is a simple and excellent way to improve your winter portraits. As opposed to opting for plain colors, try using special prints to add visual interest to your client’s photos. You can offer a variety of options this way that will switch up the mood, aesthetic, and color palette of the shoot.
Recoloring and Touchups
Recoloring and touchups are a must to focus on when looking to improve your portraits. When shooting outdoors, your subject can easily become washed out by the sun or the surrounding sea of white snow. Be sure to make your subjects stand up and perform touchups to make them appear as flawless as can be. You can even add special effects such as sparkles, background elements that were missing, falling snow, or more to visually enhance and elevate the photo.
Improving your winter portrait photography boils down to being creative with sets (both indoor and outdoor) and using fun props to add visual interest to your composition. Don’t forget to be detail-oriented when editing the photo as the photo isn’t entirely complete until you’ve made your finishing touches.