I bet you’d never guess the photographs below were taken at a balmy 27º. The sunlight’s golden glow adds so much warmth to this early February maternity session in Philadelphia. Like Emma, if you’re planning for outdoor winter maternity photos, chances are it’s going to be cold. But that doesn’t mean your portraits have to be a miserable, frigid experience, or even show that it’s winter. You can still have gorgeous, light-filled photographs of this special time in your life, without needing to change your vision and flee inside.
If you’re looking for a Philadelphia or NJ maternity photographer, I’d love to tell you more about the experience. Otherwise, keep reading for my top tips on staying warm and looking great during your outdoor winter maternity session.
You may already have a gorgeous location in mind for your maternity portraits, but you might not want an audience to your photoshoot if it’s a heavily-trafficked area. Crowded photography locations are usually much more manageable during the winter months when fewer people are spending time outdoors.
If your dream maternity session includes snow on the ground, you’re in luck if your baby is due in early spring. Speak with your photographer about having a flexible date or choose a location that’s guaranteed to have winter wonderland weather.
If the start of your third trimester falls during the winter months, you might not have much of a choice as to when you can take maternity portraits. Of course, you can always photograph the bump at any stage of your pregnancy, and those images will be just as meaningful and special. But if you’re envisioning pregnancy photographs with a big, round, belly, you’re going to have to embrace the cold season.
Read more: The Best Time to Take Maternity Photos
Wearing a thick sweater dress is the obvious choice for mamas who want to stay warm while showing off their bump but still desire a more feminine vibe. Choose one with form-fitting fabric and a longer skirt that will allow you to layer up underneath.
A jumpsuit that hugs your figure is a great option to show off your baby bump. Chose one that covers enough skin (and that you can wear layers underneath) but is simple enough to not obscure or distract from your belly.
If you know you want to go for it despite the cold, a long-flowy dress is always a beautiful, timeless choice. If you want to make a dramatic statement, especially if you’re planning to take your maternity portraits in the snow, a bold, full-train gown is guaranteed to stop people in their tracks.
If you’re holding a bouquet or a prop in the shot, you can tuck hand warmers in your palm to help keep your hands warm. Toe warmers can help too! Tuck them into your shoes or find the flat kind with sticky backs to use with open-toed shoes.
Give yourself some extra time when photographing outside in the cold. You may be tempted to blow through all the shots as quickly as possible, but it’s harder to get natural, emotion-filled images when you’re rushed. Take the time you need, and bundle up between shots or when walking to a new location.
If you can find a great outdoor location with public indoor space, you can plan to take a couple of warm-up breaks during your session. Make sure you speak with your photographer about this beforehand, so that you aren’t taking breaks while the lighting is at its best.
Keep warm by incorporating a shawl or blanket into your wardrobe. When in doubt, you can ask your photographer what looks best.
If you’re not going to be wearing a sweater or otherwise warm clothes in your photographs, try to layer in as many extra cozy materials as possible. If you’re planning on wearing a dress, choose a full-length one so you can wear thermal leggings underneath. Wrap something around your middle (spanx etc.) to keep your core warmer. If you’re wearing full sleeves, see if you can wear a thermal shirt underneath your outfit. Do whatever you can to keep as much of your skin covered with fabric as possible!
If you notice any purple lips, skin that’s turning gray, or you’re uncontrollably shivering, it’s time to stop. Putting yourself at risk for hypothermia or frostbite isn’t worth the shot. If you’re miserable, you should stop to take a prolonged warm-up break or call it quits and reschedule. You probably won’t get your best images anyway if you’re that cold, and you don’t want to be risking your or your baby’s health.
Having a baby during the winter months or in early spring doesn’t mean your portraits have to be stiff and miserable. If you’re interested in working together to create your dream photographs of this special time, I’d love to share more about my process.