What to Wear for Family Photographs in Winter

Winter photographs get a bit of a bad rap in Vancouver. Yes, we will need to choose a back-up session date in case of rain but winter is one of my favourite times to photograph.


One. I love the light. Some might disagree but the soft cloudy light of a Vancouver winter is perfect for photographing families.

Two. The colours are beautiful. When deciding on your session location, together we need to take into account the style and colours in your home.  And oftentimes, the more muted colours of winter suit a neutral-coloured contemporary home.

Three. Clothing choices are actually a little easier in the winter. You can wear jeans and a flattering long-sleeved top and not worry about being too warm.

So if you’re thinking winter photographs will be perfect for you, just what should you wear?

Insider Tips for Family Photographs in Winter

First, prepare to be a little cold.

Your family photographs are timeless works of art that will be displayed on your wall year-round. You’re likely not going to want to be staring at a photo of all of you in parkas in the middle of July.

That doesn’t mean you need to go short-sleeves and summer garb, just make sure you choose a lot of heavy fabrics that scream winter.

Don’t worry, you won’t freeze. Thankfully Vancouver temperatures tend towards the mild side. Still… bring a heavy jacket for each member of your family. I’ll bring a blanket to throw them down on and you can slip into your jacket and warm up as we move to a different location.

Second, lose the scarf.

I LOVE scarves in the winter. Pretty much every day from October through to April you’ll find a scarf completing my outfit. But I just don’t love them for photographs.

In a photograph, a scarf can hide your chin line and cut off your neck which isn’t always the most photo-flattering. And if your littles are, well, little… it’s easy for their faces to get hidden away in the folds of fabric.

My preference is for you to bring in textures and pattern to be brought in through other pieces of clothing and leave the scarf at home.

Other than that, the usual rules apply.

I’ll help you refine your choices at your planning session but here’s how to get started…

What to Wear for Family Photographs in Winter

Choose your colours based on your home décor, since that’s where your photographs will be hanging.

Decide on one person’s outfit to start. I usually begin with myself since I’m the hardest one to dress. Next I’ll pick my daughter’s outfit – something that looks good with my outfit but isn’t necessarily a carbon copy.

Based on those colours, I’ll choose a shirt (and likely jeans) for my son. Finally, If we’re a little light on pattern I’ll choose a striped or checked button up shirt for my husband. If we already have a lot of pattern, I’ll choose a simple solid cashmere vneck sweater.

Then I’ll do one last check and carry all the outfits back down to our living room to make sure it all still works. You want a good mix of patterns and texture without overwhelming the room. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back on this. Do your best with pulling the top choices for each family member out of the closet and I’ll tie everything together for you when we meet.

I did some quick online window-shopping and designed outfits that I would put my family in for a winter session. Keep in mind that I am a neutral girl at heart so I chose outfits that would look great with our home decor. All items are available in stores and online now.

swiss dot blouse / cotton-cashmere cardigan / button-front chambray shirt / girls’ zip shift dress

But let’s say that you’re not quite so neutral. Your home is filled with bold colours – burgundy, deep blues and lots of dark accents. Here’s what I would choose if I was transplanting our family into your home.

cashmere thermal-stitch crew / colza blouse / secret wash utility shirt / floral tank shirtdress

Not shown, the cardigan I’d throw over the top of the little girl’s dress so she didn’t turn into an icicle during the session.

So…… which one would you choose – neutral or bold?

P.S. Now that you know what you’re going to wear… check back next week and read all about why family photographs are perfect for your wall.


  1. Love the soft, neutral colors you put together! Also: completely agree about enjoying cloudy overcast days – they make for the perfect photos!

  2. I never thought about choosing outfits to make your home décor, that’s brilliant! Thanks for these tips, especially about the scarves because I love me some scarves too 🙂

  3. You always have such good tips. I love that neutral color scheme you gave. It looks almost springy but also like the late afternoon sky this time of year.

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