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Winter Senior Pictures: 5 Tips For Staying Warm and Looking Your Best

Westerville North Senior Photographer

Winter senior pictures can be stunning, no doubt. But it comes with the challenge of staying warm while enjoying the process!

If you're planning an outdoor session, it's important to plan for the elements and the unexpected weather that can come along with it.

With these five tips that I’ve learned through trial and error, you’ll be ready to stay warm and slay your winter senior photos!

three photos of high school senior girl posing for winter senior pictures in westerville ohio
Meet Caroline, a senior at Westerville North High School! Fun fact, I had her as a student in my English class, and she always had multiple books on her desk.

Tip One: Bundle Up! Wear Layers for Winter Senior Pictures

I can hear the eye-rolls already because I’m sure you’re sick of hearing, “Bundle up, sweetie. You don’t want to catch a cold.” But regardless, it’s my first tip - dress in layers for your winter senior pictures. No, you won’t have to wear all your layers for the photos, but we want you to stay warm!

Your first layer could be a sweater or a long-sleeved shirt. Then top it with a big winter coat that you can take off for photos and throw back on in-between shots.

If you have a fun winter coat that you love, by all means, we’ll take some photos of you wearing it. But most of the time, that’s not the case. So we’ll typically only use your winter coat in between photos.

For Caroline’s session, it was one of the coldest (and windiest) days we’ve had in Ohio this winter. So I would set up my camera, take 5-10 photos, and then she would put her huge winter coat back on to warm up. We also took some breaks in our warmed-up cars nearby (more on that further down.)

senior portrait of girl wearing a high school jacket posing beside brick wall for winter senior pictures
Meet Evelyn, a high school senior at Westerville North High School too! It wasn't quite as cold on her session day, but her school jacket is UBER cool!

Tip Two: Accessorize for the Cold

Accessories aren’t just for cool summer photos (I’m looking at you, sunglasses emoji.)

Winter accessories are a fun way to add color and visual interest to your photos while keeping you warm!

Some fun winter accessories:

  • Winter hats

  • Scarves

  • Gloves

  • Blankets

  • Colorful winter boots

This list could get longer, but you get the point. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with your senior photos.

Also, bring more items than you think you’ll need. It’s great to have options!

three photos of senior posing outdoor beside brick wall and rusty stairs for senior photos in westerville ohio
Sweathers, Cardigans, and Jackets are all good accessories!

Tip Three: Comfort Items For Winter Senior Pictures

These are a few other items I would consider packing as “comfort items” for cold winter sessions. These items won’t make or break the photos, but they will help you enjoy the process more!

  1. Disposable hand warmers - These are great to throw into your coat pockets or shoes for some added warmth. You can pick them up at any local convenience store (or here), and they’ll make any cold outdoor experience more comfortable.

  2. Blanket - I hinted at this earlier, but a cozy blanket can be fun to bring along as a prop, but it can also help to keep you cozy and warm between shots. You really can’t go wrong with bringing a blanket to any outdoor session!

  3. Thermos of a warm beverage - Hear me out - who doesn’t love hot chocolate on a cold winter day? Exactly. And if hot cocoa doesn’t do it for you, pack some hot tea or your favorite warm drink. (Plus, if you bring a blanket, this could make a fun winter photo using the two together!)

  4. Warmed-up car - This is a life-saver for the really cold days! Having a warm car nearby to hop in and out of between photos is a great way to take a little break and recharge.

For Caroline’s session, we worked in short bursts of time. We would spend 5-15 minutes outside doing photos and then head to our cars for a nice little warm-up break. Once we thawed out, we’d go back out to shoot again!

two portraits of high school senior girl posing in dress beside brick wall for outdoor winter senior pictures
Winter seniors pictures in a dress? YEP! Thanks to a warm car just feet away, we made these shots possible without her looking like she's freezing!

Tip Four: Location, Location, Location

As they say, it’s all about location! And that’s pretty true when you’re picking spots for your senior pictures too. Pick a place you like visually, of course, but also consider how close you’ll be to restrooms or your car if you want to hop in and out between photos.

Uptown Westerville, where we did Caroline's photos, is home to some of my favorite urban spots that work well for cold winter sessions. We were able to park pretty close to where we were shooting. This made it easy to run back and forth to the comfort of our cars when needed.

Lucky for us, living near Columbus, we have access to some amazing metro parks! Highbanks Metro Park and Inniswoods are two of my favorites! They’re all pretty great for their scenery and accessibility.

During this winter session at Highbanks Metro Park, we were only a few feet from our cars, so we could take warm-up breaks as needed. The results were some pretty epic snowboarding shots!

If you have any questions or need some advice on where to shoot, I’m happy to help. I can usually pull example photos to show you what specific areas look like. But if you have a brand new (to me) place you want to check out, I’m up for it too!

two photos of a senior girl posing for winter senior pictures
Uptown Westerville, Ohio is one of my favorite urban locations! It has gorgeous brick buildings, these amazing stairs, and streets of cute business storefronts!

Tip Five: Prepare For The Weather Roller-coaster in Ohio

My final tip is to prepare for whatever weather Mother Nature throws our way. One day it’s 20 degrees and snowing; the next day, it’s 60 degrees and sunny. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. The weather can be pretty moody and unpredictable here in Columbus, Ohio!

So my tip here is to dress and pack as if you’re going to have a 20-degree snowy day. Bring layers of clothes and the accessories I mentioned to keep you warm. But just know that you may not need any of it, and that’s 100% okay!

I roll with the punches. So if you’re up for it, I say, “Let’s do it!”

two black and white portraits of high school senior girl posing against brick wall
Did you know that every portrait you order comes in print and digital? You get both a color and black and white digital version!

If you want winter senior pictures, don’t let the cold weather stop you!

We can do your entire session outdoors, or we can do a combination of indoor and outdoor photos. The choice is up to you!

Schedule a free chat with me today, and let's start planning your senior session!


Aaron Taylor is a high school senior photographer based out of Columbus, Ohio.

If you’re looking for a Westerville North High School Senior Photographer, you’ve found him!


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