How to Set up a Dreamy Winter Styled Shoot

There’s a whole other side to myself that I haven’t fully revealed on this space. It’s the creative driven, determined girl, in awe of the craft that is photography. The part of me that feels most joyful with a camera in hand and beautiful materials at my fingertips, to work with. And while she may not be your traditional photographer with a degree in this line of work, and too, a blogger, that doesn’t make her any less of one. While it may have been a journey to obtain a confidence such as this in my work, rest assured, it’s here, and will not be going anywhere.

So with that being said, I’d love to begin sharing my styled shoots on this corner of my blog. Styled shoots give me life and I find that they always recharge my creativity, too! A couple weeks back, I had the pleasure of working with one of my favorite local Pittsburgh businesses, Chez Lapin. Each time we’ve worked together, we journey to a cabin a couple hours out of town. And every last time, I feel a surge of new found creativity and at one with myself.

This time around, I styled a shoot for winter photos. I know a lot of content creators, photographers & creatives are beginning to do the same. Which is why I thought it’d be helpful and inspiring to share how to set up a dreamy winter styled shoot. I’m diving into my process and how you can implement it yourself, to create unique holiday content. So take notes, and then get out there and shoot!



How to Set up a Dreamy Winter Styled Shoot

How to Set up a Dreamy Winter Styled Shoot

How to Set up a Dreamy Winter Styled Shoot

Step One: Define the specific aesthetic

Sure, winter/holidays narrows it down, but not entirely. There are so many subsets and styles amongst this theme, so you’ll have to dig a little deeper. My best recommendation, is to think about what you’ll be shooting. Is it traditionally a cozy item? Or perhaps, is it more adventurous in nature, such as hiking gear. Whatever you plan to shoot, whether its a topic for a blog post or item, think this through deeply.

How to Set up a Dreamy Winter Styled Shoot

For this shoot, I photographed candles, which are naturally on the cozier side. Oftentimes enjoyed while relaxing on the couch, baking or burned during a bath. It is therefore, by default, very much so in line with the Danish/Norwegian hygee lifestyle. This was Claire of Chez Lapin’s source of inspiration and so, we chose location & props accordingly. Choosing to photograph the candles in front of a fire, serving up a hot cup of hot cocoa, and including earthy backgrounds and textures to fit this theme.


Step Two: Props & Location Planning

Location is everything, so don’t forget to carve time out and put thought into this phase of the process. Once you have an aesthetic (more specific theme) carved out, it’s time to really consider what type of location it calls for. Maybe you’re going for a Magnolia esc, country vibe. If that be the case, perhaps a barn with pine trees or a cabin would suffice! In need of photos for a modern watch company? Try styling your shoot in a studio space with white walls for a modern, subtle backdrop. Consider styling a bar with inventive holiday drinks and dress up in a city-like outfit with holiday touches. See what I’m saying? This is how the process works!

Hygge is all about the feeling of comfort, coziness and warmth. Therefore, we knew it’d be important to find a location where we could burn a fire, set up cozy shots and add earthy touches. A cabin fits all the above criteria, so that’s the logic behind our choice. For variety, I photographed a couple scenes..

The Photographed Scenes:

– fireplace // to capture warmth

For the fireplace scene, we started a fire and created a couple varying shots. From photos including mittens, to subtle props such as pine sprigs and dried fruit. Don’t be afraid to really experiment with various colors and textures!

– outdoor hot chocolate bar // to capture natural elements/textures and cozy delights

I wanted to create at least one grand setup, and knew it needed to be outside. For one thing, I would be able to harness the natural light best but also, it’d really capture the essence of winter with pine trees bordering the shots. To add charm, we staged the setup on an antique table and set up a vintage sled in front of it. Pretty details such as hot cocoa in a milk jug, a green garland and my garden caddy were utilized as well. My best styling tip is always to reach for what is unexpected. It truly creates the most unique, and interesting shoots to photograph.

How to Set up a Dreamy Winter Styled Shoot

Step Three: Implementation of the plan 

Once a clear aesthetic, location and props are all decided upon, you’re well on your way! But before you can begin shooting, I have one final token of departing advice. And what may that be? To create a clear plan you can implement on photoshoot day. You have all the raw details decided on, but it needs to be gathered together into a clear plan. This way, you can be sure to not miss any important shots or forget to bring any props! (Which I’ve done about a million times)

So here’s the run down on what to figure out. First off, what is your prop list made up of? Write out everything you’ll be wanting to bring, so nothing is left behind! Styled shoots can require a lot of props, so it’s really easy to forget little things without a list. Secondly, write out a rough list of a couple key shots you can’t finish without. Spontaneity is important, so I’m not saying to take note of everything. Just write down the top 5-10 shots that you need to get. Finally, arrange who will be modeling in the photos (if needed) and what they’ll wear. If that’s you, then make sure you pick a look that vibes with the overall shoot. If that’s models, be sure to coordinate these minute details with them.

Notes on our shoot..

I was modeling in our shoot, so I’ll share with you my thought process behind my look. I wanted to portray a cozy, yet functional & country esc look. Naturally, I opted for jeans, burgundy Hunter boots, (to add a subtle holiday color into the mix) a pinstripe button down (with ruffle detailing to dress it up) and a floppy hat. I love that it has a very much so “blank slate” look to it, so that when photographed with the setup, it’s really played up. On it’s own, my look could go with many themes, but with the backdrop & props, the combination looks like the perfect holiday outfit!


Where to shop the featured product:

Support a female-run operation and shop the candles from Chez Lapin’s holiday collection here. She always crafts unique holiday scents, from “Embers,” to “Gemme de Pomme” and “Woodland Mint.” Because I am such a peppermint scented/flavored anything devotee, my favorite definitely has to be the woodland mint candle. With peppermint, cedar & eucalyptus, it’s truly a game changer!

How to Set up a Dreamy Winter Styled Shoot

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