Planning your winter photo session

Your Winter Family Session with Vicki Zhou Photography is just around the corner, so now is a good time to think about how to prepare. I’ve put together some key pieces of information that will help guide you in the days leading up to our session!


Please plan your outfits in advance and make sure they fit and are comfortable and attractive.

Remember to plan colors and patterns as if you were dressing one whole person. Too many patterns are really busy for the eye when looking at a group. For my family, if I use a pattern, it's only for one person. 

Bright reds, shiny reds and magentas, and oranges can often leave a color cast on the person's skin standing next to the person wearing it or the person wearing it. Please avoid lots of bright colors like red, green and yellow, as they can cast color onto skin and tend not to be flattering.

If you need some help getting started, here is a Pinterest board I put together with some good examples of coordinated outfits–

Hair, Make-up, Nails & Skin

I recommend getting haircuts at least a week in advance of your session, so there aren’t any last-minute surprises! Moms and older daughters are encouraged to wear slightly more make-up the day of their photo session than they normally do, but no need to go crazy. Nails can be another distractor in photos, so be sure chipped nail polish is removed and kids have their nails trimmed and free of dirt.

If your child has a bruise, a pimple, skinned knees– do not worry! That is something that comes with the territory and we can make sure they are not visible in your final images. I do ask for you help in removing any stamps and/or temporary tattoos that your child may have on their bodies.

Alternatively, you can check my favourite HAIR & Makeup Artist Shanshan Makeup's Instagram and book her directly!


Light reflected in eyeglass lenses can create white spots and glare, leading to extra retouching charges. And tinted lenses cannot be lightened. I generally try to pose families so their backs are to the sun, but I just like to share this info as an FYI.


Be sure to feed yourself and your children before the session, but NOT in the car on the way! Hungry kids make for miserable models, but you do not want to be cleaning up faces and clothes in the parking lot. Eating about an hour before the session ensures full bellies and enough time to brush teeth and wash faces & hands.

Give Yourself Time

This one is especially for the Moms. We are always running around taking care of everyone else but often leave little or no time to take care of ourselves. Give yourself the opportunity to LOVE the way you look in the photos by allowing enough time to get yourself ready. Wearing a new item like jewelry or a scarf can help it feel like a special occasion for you!

Take the Pressure Off

Telling your children how important the photos are, or how they need to smile or act a certain way, causes a lot of unnecessary stress on little ones. Believe it or not, family photo sessions are meant to be fun! Set them up for success by making it as casual as possible, and just encourage them to be their (best) natural selves. I often bring some small, stain-free treats to coax young kids who need a little encouragement, so try to leave the bribery up to me!

No Cheese, Please!

Saying the word “cheese” actually creates a very fake smile, so I ask that you do not encourage your child to say it. I will “perform” and sometimes do some crazy things behind the camera to get authentic smiles & genuine laughter out of your kids, so just leave the direction to me! Nothing is worse than getting great smiles out of the kids but have Moms & Dads with open mouths from talking 

Last, but not least…

Be in the moment and don’t stress about the end result. We will get some beautiful photos, you do not need to worry. You will be more emotionally attached to the images if you have FUN while taking them. If you are worried about how your children are smiling, or if Dad is irritated (they usually are, and it’s ok!), then you will think of that every time you look at your photos. Relax, enjoy the time spent with your family, and I will catch some amazing moments for you that you can cherish forever!

If you have any questions about anything written above, or just about the session in general, please do not hesitate to ask. I look forward to working with you soon!