Shelly Pate

How to Prepare and Stay Warm at Your Outdoor Engagement Photos in Winter

couple embraces at windy engagement session

As a Washington, DC local photographer, I’m used to shooting weddings in every season. Hot or cold, dark or light, winter or summer, I’m down for capturing your memories at any time of year. Because I photograph in an area that gets all four seasons and all weather extremes, it takes some planning to capture the best photos. Winter can be particularly difficult for outdoor photos due to the weather and the sun setting so much earlier. We literally have to chase the light and the warmth in order to capture engagement photos in winter. Here are tips for how to make this happen and still stay warm!

couple holds hands at Baltimore waterside engagement session
couple embraces at windy engagement session

Why I Love Taking Engagement Photos in Winter

Shooting engagement photos in and around the DC Metro area is such a privilege. But, it does require that I come prepared and properly prepare my couples so they are ready for outdoor engagement photos even in winter! I love doing engagement photos in winter because they are #1 Super Cold, #2 Super Fun #3 Super Cozy.

couple walks holding hands at Baltimore engagement session

There’s just something about bundling up for the cold that makes you want to snuggle up with a loved one. When it comes to your movement for engagement photos in winter, the desire to get cozy is a plus! Nicole and Matt came prepared by dressing warm (I’m all about layering up!) and using the cold (and wind!) to get close together in order to stay warm and get the best shots!

couple embraces at windy winter engagement session

They definitely started feeling more comfortable (and warmer!) in front of the camera as these two started moving around and cuddling. Movement is always key in capturing photos where you look the most comfortable, just like this couple did in a field full of fall wildflowers!

couple kisses at Baltimore engagement photos in winter

Why Engagements Sessions are a Must

engagement ring on greenery at Baltimore winter engagement session

I LOVE engagement shoots because they accomplish so much in just one session:

  1. We get to meet in person prior to your wedding day and begin getting to know each other.
  2. You get to practice getting comfortable in front of the camera and in working with me.
  3. You are setting aside time to be together on a relaxing date that crosses off a step on your wedding to-do list and slows down the pace so you can truly enjoy the engagement season!
couple holds hands at Baltimore engagement photos in winter

I witness your relationship first-hand in a way that allows your full personality to come out. Seeing you two together in a more casual setting works as a foundation to guide me as I capture your photos on the wedding day. It’s also a great chance to get to know your pup or other pet which can teach me so much about you two as I capture you both loving on them!

couple stands with dog at waterside Baltimore engagement session

It was super fun to chat with Nicole and Matt during their engagement photos and learn about their love for music, mountain adventures and their pup. Heading to the mountains is their activity of choice when needing to get away from the busy Baltimore city streets. But, they still love their hometown enough that they chose Fells Point, a neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland, for their outdoor engagement photos in winter!

couple kisses during winter engagement photos in winter

Fells Point is a very busy spot in Baltimore so capturing your love at sunrise or sunset in this area is a great way to avoid the crowds! It’s also a great spot for wedding day of, day-before, or day-after photos if you are getting married in the city.

PRO TIP: The thing is, you don’t have to feel comfortable in front of a camera in order to look comfortable in front of it. Your experience may be a little awkward (or in our case windy and cold), but that doesn’t mean amazing photos can’t be captured. I’m ready to work with it all!

couple holds hands at Baltimore windy winter engagement session

How to Prepare for Outdoor Engagement Photos in Winter

There are seriously so many directions you can take your winter engagements session:

  • outdoors (maybe even in the snow?)
  • in your favorite book shop or coffee shop
  • all cozy in your home or at a fun weekend getaway Airbnb

Nicole and Matt bundled up in the cutest outfits and ended up having such a fun morning taking their outdoor engagement photos in winter. To up the warmth and snuggling factor, the couple was joined by their beloved mini goldendoodle named Ryder. As Nicole puts it, Ryder “is our #1 love, next to each other.” They were moving around a ton to stay warm and create genuine memories.

couple kisses dog at Baltimore winter engagement session

Wherever you decide to go, you definitely want to be properly dressed and prepared for any outdoor adventures:

  • layer layer layer! You can always take things off if you end up warming up or if the temperature changes.
  • incorporate fun elements like scarves and hats that you can easily take on and off for more variety in your photos. Often in all-day engagement adventures you will switch between different outfits. Changing accessories instead can be way more convenient on cold days like this one!

The morning of Nicole and Matt’s engagement shoot it felt like we were in subzero temperatures with the wind chill coming off the water! To account for this, we took little breaks in a coffee shop nearby to warm back up throughout the session (or you can break up the day with a cocktail bar!). If you aren’t in the city for your outdoor engagement photos in winter, bringing along a little thermos filled with a hot beverage and hand warmers can be really helpful.

PRO TIP: Taking breaks during your winter session is fine, stepping inside or outside is OK, and often it’s in these in-between natural moments that I capture your best shots!

The Best Place Is a Spot That’s Meaningful to You

couple walks holding hands at Baltimore windy winter engagement session

Nicole and Matt live in Baltimore and really wanted to capture where they live and spend most of their time at this moment in their lives. We chose sunrise to avoid all the crowds and get the prettiest light even though it was so cold. Nicole said that Fells Point “is right near our home, and where we’ve shared a lot of memories together.” Their wedding was in a totally different location so they really wanted to capture this Baltimore-based portion of their story.

couple embraces at Baltimore waterside winter engagement session

Without this engagement session, I never would have learned so much about the couple–how their environment and their combined love for their pup told so much of their story. Nicole shared tidbits from their romance: “Our relationship really blossomed around our shared love for live music, and adventure (specifically mountains). We have been together for 4.5 years. We want to remember our sense of adventure no matter what obligations get in the way, and also our commitment to one another.”

couple sits with dog at waterside Baltimore winter engagement session

It was warmth and authenticity that drew them to my photos in the first place and what so easily poured out of them (despite the cold!) through their engagement photos in winter. Connecting the dots in a couple’s story from their engagement to the wedding day is one of my favorite parts of being a DC Metro wedding photographer!

couple laughs together at windy winter engagement session

Ready for the cold? Tell me your winter engagement session vision and let’s get planning! 

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