Snow day: How to stay warm for winter portrait sessions

maremma sheepdog lays in snow in spokane

I learned a cold, hard lesson doing portrait sessions for the rescue project last February.

It’s a lesson I should have learned decades ago. I mean, it isn’t like Mom didn’t tell me.

Dress for the weather.

I wanted to get the (snow)ball rolling on some cool blog posts, focusing on rescue dogs and the dog lovers whose lives were changed. There’s something so special about that one dog that comes into your life and alters everything. Shep did that for me.

(My friend Jamie would tell you there wasn’t just one dog. She collects beagles, five of them right now. All from the Washington and Area Bassett Rescue.)

Silly me, though. I came up with this idea in January when we were having a remarkably spring-like winter. I booked almost 10 sessions, most of them in February. Then Mother Nature decided to change her plans for everyone, she dumped a bunch of snow on us, and the thermometer.

Now I’m no fainting goat. I stood outside in 40-below temperatures waiting for the bus or C-train in Calgary more times than I can count. Wearing a pencil skirt, cute boots and a down-filled knee-length jacket, a must in the frozen tundra.

But every once in a while, even at almost age 50, I become too cool for school. I rolled around in snow, coming up soaked and freezing, just so I could get that one killer image (or 10 of them!). And I’m pretty sure I got frostbite on my shutter-speed dial thumb, only really starting to get the feeling back recently.

ethel the pitbull at fernan lake

Beautiful Ethel

Snow day in Spokane

I’ve been preparing for this. I’m a weather geek. I have five different weather-related apps on my phone.

Of course, that September snowstorm took me — and most of Spokane and North Idaho — by surprise. One lucky photographer went viral because of it.

Bella and I hunkered down for the day but, when we woke up to snow this past Wednesday, I thought, “LET’S GO.” Meanwhile, my husband was grousing about icy roads and accidents and … well, whatever … SNOW DAY.

We made our way to our favorite spot in Spokane Valley, Mirabeau Park … yes, same place as last week’s post about off-camera flash! It’s close to home and there are just so many cool spots to stop. We find something different every visit.

Maremma sheepdog with snow on her nose

Snow on my nose

But first, I assembled all the accoutrements I learned (by omission) I should have with me:

  1. Flippy-up mittens … oh , you know the ones I mean, the finger part flips off and attaches to the back
  2. Tuque, a.k.a. winter beanie
  3. Waterproof winter hiking boots
  4. Wooly warm socks
  5. Gaiters
  6. Fleece-lined man pants
  7. Layers

For the flippy-up mittens, I found them at Target but I also have a great pair of gloves that I found on Amazon for $14. You can get a cooler, name-brand version for about $100.

I’m sure “fleece-lined man pants” raised an eyebrow. They’re the greatest cargo pants, found at Costco, generally between October and January, for about $20. The husband got them first, not fleece-lined, and I thought, ‘those would be great for camping and I can’t stand paying $75 for women’s cargo pants.” Thus, I have a collection of non-lined and lined man pants. I bought a pair in each color. The struggle lies in making sure Husband and I aren’t wearing the same color and leaving the house together.

Me, on the right, in my man pants (and those are earmuffs, I think):

two photographers at farragut state park

And layers are something everyone learns about in Alberta, where the day can start out at 20-below C (4-below F) and swing to 20 C (68 F) by the afternoon. That’s what happens when the Chinook winds whip up and bring in some warm air … and for people like me, a massive barometric pressure-related migraine. We need to be able to tear off the down coat, the fleece jacket and the boots all the way down to flipflops (carry them in your bag) and a light turtleneck.

Put it all together now and I’m fully prepared for winter portrait sessions with you and your dog. Some photographers won’t schedule sessions during the wintery seasons but I wouldn’t be a good Canadian if I shut it down and said “no snow portraits!.”

However, if I show up being too cool for school, you have every right to point and laugh at me.

Meanwhile, here are a few more from one of Bella’s many portrait sessions at Mirabeau Park.

[FinalTilesGallery id=’4′]

Dogs staying warm

Pitbulls in sweaters.

I love them so.

I had two more of them show up for a session last weekend. Check these two out; Chance, first, and Nellie, second. Both are rescues from the Spokane Humane Society.

pitbull in a sweater at Plantes Ferry


nellie the pitbull in a sweater for her portrait session


When I saw Chance, I just knew I had to bring out my new Canada Pooch hat. It’s always in my bag for adorable images like this:

Chance the pitbull all wrapped up in a Canada Pooch pom pom hat

Nice hat, buddy

Have you been rescued?

Do you want to tell your rescue dog’s story?

I get so stoked at the opportunity to meet rescue dogs around Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, and see how they’ve changed the lives of their best fur friends.

For a small reservation fee of $99, you get a one-hour portrait session and two social media-sized files. You also get featured in a blog post right here on

Message or call me at 208-618-1630 or click through this button to my contact page for a handy form to fill out.

[su_button url=”” target=”blank” background=”#ff7200″ icon=”icon: paw” id=”Rescue”]TELL YOUR STORY[/su_button]

All around the circle

This week’s topic for the dog photographers’ blog circle is warm, so now you know how I stay warm for winter portrait sessions with your dog.

I get to send you to the greater Sacramento area where it’s warm all year-round, at least according to my inner thermometer.

Let’s go check out Kylee Doyle Photography, serving pet parents in the greater Sacramento area and see what’s warm with her.

When you get to the bottom of Tracy’s blog post, click the link to the next blogger and so on and so on.

When you find yourself back here, you’re back home.

Right where you belong.

1 thought on “Snow day: How to stay warm for winter portrait sessions”

  1. Wow, you covered a LOT of ground in that post! 🙂 If we ever get a winter down here in Texas, I’ll know exactly what to do!

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