Minneapolis Outdoor Winter Engagement and Portrait Tips

So: winter is coming.  It’s inevitable.  Western Minnesota is supposed to get its first blizzard this week!  Hot chocolate, cold temperatures, hockey season, the whole deal!  We will have snow here in the Twin Cities sooner or later.  I’ve been asked a few times this fall, what I will do when winter gets here now that I am traveling around the state as location portrait photographer without a permanent studio?

I’ll do the same thing I’ve done before, keep having a blast shooting outside.

Here are a few tips and tricks I use for winter photography to keep my clients warm and their winter portraits sessions awesome:

Dress in Layers.  Especially if you are planning multiple outfits.  Give yourself a base layer of clothing, just like you would if you were going outside in the winter for any other activity.  Then layer your portrait clothes over it.  Even if you plan on having your portraits in your jacket, having an extra layer is the key to being comfortable.

Plan portraits that focus around an activity.  Building a snow man, sledding, skating, sitting by a bonfire.  They all make fort a great portrait session where it’s easy to move around and stay warm outside.  Indoor winter portraits doing a cozy activity like making cookies, story time, or decorating the tree are personal and very fun too.

Hockey engagement portraits in St. Paul, Minnesota

Laura and Robert’s Hockey Engagement

Know what a safe temperature is to be outside.  Yes, this is Minnesota, we go out and shovel, snowmobile, ski in all sorts of weather, but for photo shoots I follow the same temperature guidelines as my daughter’s elementary school does for outdoor recess, as well as plan for my clients’ comfort levels.  If we’re doing an outdoor shoot snowmobiling with adults or teens we’re a little more flexible on temperature than when we’re doing family portraits with kids.  I take that into account when planning.

Pick a back up day.   Sometimes we have to move sessions around in the winter for temperature and snow, just like when it rains in the summer.  Weather happens, and it’s okay, so it’s not something I stress about, I just plan for it.  I use a lot of the NWS forecast tools to pick days that have the lowest probability of winter weather hazards.

Kid's Christmas Portraits in the woods in Victoria, Minnesota

Christmas Card Portraits on a chilly November day, dressing in layers and putting coats on between shots.

Schedule not as far in advance.  I tend to schedule sessions more last minute once it starts to snow.  In the summer I am booking 3-4 weeks out, in the winter because I do have less weddings and portraits I will often just book a week or two out so we have a good idea of what our weather will be.

If snow isn’t something you love we can choose an indoor location.  There are just as many awesome indoor locations for portraits in the winter as there are outdoor ones.  Como Conservatory, Union Depot and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts some of my favorites.   I keep a list of photographer friendly indoor spots, and when you book we can choose a place you will enjoy.

If you like playing in the snow, contact me and let’s plan your perfect winter portrait session!


(bonus: To see more from Laura and Robert’s winter engagement shoot click HERE.)

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