Being a photographer who works in natural settings, I've been in poor weather situations during photoshoots. I once had a session scheduled with a client, and we had to reschedule THREE times due to rainy weather. After being hit with rain a fourth time, we decided to make the most of it and just do the shoot!
My best piece of advice is this: you always have creative control over your shoots, and there's nothing against thinking a bit out of the box! Embracing the rain instead of shunning it led to unique photography and a some lessons that I can now share with you.
The Technical: Keep Your Gear Safe
So that you can avoid the dreaded water damage.
So if you've decided to bring your expensive and delicate professional camera equipment into a rainy environment, you'd better invest in some cover! Not only is it good to use for surprise rain, but it can also protect against dust and other unexpected inclement weather. Pretty easy to just store in your camera bag as well.
Do some research on a rain cover for a camera, or look at some of our quick options:
For a large Canon/Nikon DSLR, here's an opaque camera cover from Altura Photo.
A see-through option for a DSLR with a lens up to 18' long from Movo.
There are tons of options for rain covers on the market, so don't stop here in finding the best one! I was fortunate enough to come prepared to my shoot because we were anticipating rain, but that may not always be the case.
If you don't decide to spend the $12, keep in mind that plastic bags are the poor woman's option, even if they will probably gather condensation.
Incorporate rainy props and ideas
Rain puddles, kids, and rain boots were meant for rainy day photoshoots, enough said.
Alternatively, rainy days are excellent for couple shoots, as it is reminiscent of a film noir. Known for mysterious and moody imagery, film noir was visually known for heavily imbalanced compositions and a big focus on light and dark in the image. Thematically, film noir usually had mature, if not tragic romantic plotlines. If you are shooting for a couple on a rainy day, discuss making that cultural throwback with your clients! Focusing on the drama, atmosphere, and putting your images in black and white will create a cohesive and memorable collection.
Rain is usually a pain, but in this case you can incorporate an umbrella into your shoot! Everyone loves props! You like props because you don't have to direct your client as much, and your client likes props because they have something to work with. Encourage whoever you are photographing to play with their props, and play in the rain!
Of course, keep in mind that if you go sans umbrella, you will be at the mercy of the weather. You don't want your subjects to get drenched, so allow them (and yourself) to get a break from the rainfall.
Know your location before showing up, especially if you are anticipating rain. For this particular session, we knew we wanted to shoot in the "downtown" area of my city. I knew ahead of time that there are gazebos and covered sidewalk areas that I could to my advantage.
Create your own rainy scene
If you prefer to go with the flow of the photoshoot mood, rain will only enhance those feelings! All you have to do is make sure that your technical aspects are perfect as to capture all of the moments that unfold before you.
If you're going with black and white, light will have more importance; making sure that you capture the correct exposure will also capture the mood of your environment.
You'll need to have a fast shutter speed in order to prevent the rain from being blurred. Alternatively, go slow if you prefer more focus on your subjects and a softer atmosphere.
- Don't go below 1/125 on your shutter speed if you want to capture raindrops in your pictures.
- Avoid a shallow depth on field; you won't be able to capture faraway detail otherwise.
- Use appropriate ISO for the lighting, and avoid going too high to avoid grain.
- Use flash to capture as much detail as possible, unless you specifically prefer a blurry effect.
And with that, just adjust your settings as needed to capture those organic moments!
My clients LOVED the photos that came out of the shoot! I was happy to conquer the rain and create such a memorable session.
Keep your gear safe, use weather appropriate props, find shelter when needed, and let loose on your creativity when organizing scenes!