Okay, so that title may be slightly misleading. I promise I’ll never try to convince any of my portrait clients that they’ll have a great session in the middle of a hurricane.
That said — today’s a little dreary. It’s summertime in the Sunshine State, which ironically means we’ll have rain and clouds come through most afternoons. Unless safety is a concern due to lightning or dangerous winds, you can have an amazing portrait session whether the sun is shining at full power or dark clouds coat the horizon and raindrops are tickling your cheeks. How do I know? Because I’ve been a part of amazing portrait sessions in nearly all weather. (Including that one time we had to wait out a hail storm. And a tornado watch.)
So, if you’re about to have your portraits created, know this: great portraits are less reliant on the condition of the skies overhead than the attitude and enthusiasm of both subjects and photographer!A few tips:
1.) Stay optimistic.
In Florida, storms often blow through quickly enough that, if it’s storming and we just wait a bit, there’s a good chance we’ll still have the opportunity to shoot.
2.) Be prepared.
Nature likes to throw curve balls. Try to think about what we may encounter if the weather isn’t a pristine 75 and sunny. Bring hair ties or headbands to tame hair and consider slipping a pair of bike shorts under billowy skirts in case of strong winds; if the forecast calls for rain, you may even consider bringing a change of clothes for everyone, just in case we get rained on right as the session begins and then the rain stops. (And if the forecast calls for rain and you’re planning to wear white…make sure whatever you wear underneath won’t shine like a neon sign if you get caught in the rain.)3.) Be flexible.
Sometimes weather calls for a change of plans or even a change of venue, at least temporarily. Depending on where your session is taking place, there may be a nearby location that offers protection from the rain where we could head to continue shooting while we wait for the rain to pass. Otherwise, be ready to try to wait out the storm — or, if the rain isn’t coming down too hard, to just keep shooting as we get a little wet!4.) Prioritize safety.
As much as we may want to keep shooting, sometimes it simply isn’t safe. With any lightning in the area, the risk just isn’t worth staying on the beach or out in the open.
But overcast skies and raindrops never hurt anyone!
5.) Remember that overcast days are really flattering.
Yes, a lot of my portrait work emphasizes glowing, golden light (because, thunderstorms and all, there’s a reason Florida’s called the Sunshine State). But once I got up to fifty, I quit trying to count the number of times I’ve shot under overcast skies — and the soft, diffuse light that filters through clouds may not be as dramatic as golden hour sunlight, but it is incredibly flattering. Really, really flattering. Soft light makes skin look softer, too. And when I look back through my work over the years, I realized most of my favorite close-up portraits have happened under overcast skies — because that kind of soft light lends itself to intimate, gentle portraits that zoom in on emotion.
6.) Be ready to have fun no matter what.
One thing I’ve noticed on days when the weather seems less than optimal (AKA, anything other than golden sunlight) is that my portrait subjects actually relax more quickly! It’s as if when people realize the weather isn’t cooperating 100%, they feel less pressure to “be perfect” for the camera themselves. That translates to freer smiles, laughter, and usually a lot of joking around and having fun!
7.) Trust your photographer.
I know I offer this advice a lot. That’s because I mean it. Having shot in all kinds of conditions before, I know that we are going to create beautiful images at every portrait session!8.) If we absolutely have to reschedule — don’t worry, we will.
Rest assured that if the weather acts up to the extent that we do have to postpone your session, that’s what we will do. You will still get your portraits!I always hope for sunny skies — just so we don’t have to worry about rain or lightning at all! But I also absolutely love shooting on cloudy days, and here are a few quick reasons why:
· We can shoot in all directions, without worrying about how harsh sunlight is falling over the subjects. On bright, sunny days, I mostly have to keep the sun behind/beside my subjects.
· Cloudy skies frequently mean slightly cooler weather, and that means the subjects (and I!) sweat less, which is a big deal in Florida in summertime!
· For sunrise sessions, we have a longer stretch of time before the morning light gets harsh; for sunset sessions, we also have a longer window of “optimal” time.
So, just to sum it up once more: beautiful portraits usually involve beautiful light, but sunny skies are NOT the only kind of beautiful light. If we’re creating portraits together, rest assured, they’re going to be beautiful, no matter what the sky looks like!