Outdoor Family Photo Shoots – What If It’s Rainy Or Cloudy?
What If It’s Rainy Or Cloudy?
Families often ask what happens if it rains on the day of an outdoor family portrait session, or if the forecast doesn’t look good beforehand.
OK, this is England. It rains pretty often. The upside of this is that I’m well versed in how to manage rain, and to still give you wonderful family photographs that you’ll love.
Checking the weather forecast on the days before your session
I use a range of weather apps to keep an eye on the weather a couple of days before your session. There’s not much point checking the forecast earlier than that, as weather patterns seem to shift dramatically across a week. A day that looks sunny in a week’s time often turns out to be a wet one, and vice versa. Two days before, we have a better sense of how the weather might actually be on the day.
If it’s forecast to be heavy rain, we can simply reschedule (free of charge). It’s worth holding out though before postponing, as the forecast might well shift a little over the next day or so – if you’re able to keep the space in your diary, I’d suggest doing so.
The day before your session, I’ll check the forecast again. If it’s scheduled to be light rain, that’s usually fine to go ahead. It never rains solidly, so it may be a case of finding shelter and darting out to take photographs in breaks in the weather.
Adjust the start time to avoid rain in your family photography session
On the day itself, I use a hyper-local weather app that tracks rain in ten minute intervals.
If it looks like it’ll be drier a little earlier or later than we’ve planned your session, we can shift the timing of your session accordingly.
If I can see that it will be drier in half an hour or so, we’ll take photographs under shelter like a bandstand or gazebo until the weather dries out. Bandstands often have white ceilings, which work as a natural reflector for portraits – they create very soft and flattering light.
Equally, we can shelter under a big tree or in a cafe until a shower clears and just start a bit later.
Grey, overcast skies are a photographer’s dream
Grey clouds are actually very flattering for portraits, so an overcast day isn’t an issue – it’s a bonus for photographs!
If you look through my website, you’ll see how few photographs include bright blue skies. This is because even on a sunny day, we’ll find some gentle shade – it’s much more flattering for portraits. With some shade, we don’t need to worry about squinting eyes or awkward shadows on faces. It also gives us lots of backdrop options, as I don’t have to find locations that work against bright skies and sunshine.
Start your photography session at home
If it’s a day with light showers and you’re not able to shift the time of your session, for example if it’s difficult with your baby’s nap routine, don’t worry!
Another option is to start your session at home, and then to head outdoors when the weather improves.
I always recommend starting at home anyway as it helps little ones relax, getting used to the camera where they feel most confident and relaxed.
If it’s a day of heavy rain, and you can’t postpone your session, we can hold your whole session indoors instead. If you’re particularly keen on having some outdoor photographs, we can open the garden doors – you can stand indoors, and I’ll photograph you with the greenery in the background.
Even on the very wettest of days, there’s always a 5 minute window where we could pop out to the garden and take a few photographs.
Equally, you’re welcome to sit on the steps or near your garden door and I can photograph you from outdoors.
Head outdoors anyway despite the rain
If your child is as weather impervious as mine (T-shirts in Winter, anyone?) we can of course head outdoors regardless of the weather. My Scottish grandmother trained me well on that front. A bit of rain never kept us indoors as kids!
Professional camera equipment is weather sealed, and I’m very happy photographing in any weather. I photograph families year-round, so I’m well used to working in all weather conditions.
Embracing the weather can lead to some unique and fun photographs! I love the challenge of making every kind of weather into a positive, creating something really special whatever the weather throws at us on the day.
What to bring for a family portrait session in wet weather
Brightly coloured coats and wellies and kids’ umbrellas can make for great photographs. They can also add a pop of colour to a grey day.
If you opt to head outside, bring a clip or hair tie to keep hair tidied away.
If your hair is prone to frizz, by all means bring a hair product to keep it tamed throughout the session.
Bringing a hair brush or comb can also be advisable.
It’s always worth bringing a change of clothes. I always recommend this anyway, in case of spilt drinks and snacks. This way, if you get wet or muddy, there’s another set of clothes available to change into.
Consider also bringing clear umbrellas – these don’t affect the light on your face, and are less distracting in a photograph.
If you have a picnic blanket with a waterproof underside, that’s also a great option. Being able to seat children even on muddy ground gives us even more variety in the photographs I can take of them.
You can see detailed tips and pointers on what to wear here, and we’ll discuss these practicalities as part of your pre-session consultation.
Postponing your session in the case of wet weather
If you’re really set on outdoor photographs and you don’t like the idea of photographs on a wet day, we can of course simply postpone your session.
Weekends tend to be booked a few months ahead, but I usually have availability midweek. I’ll work with you to find a new date and time that suits.
Here are some family photographs from damp days
See a portrait session in action on an overcast day:
This video is designed for photography enthusiasts, but it’s very easy to follow! It will give you a good sense of how photographers see overcast skies, and the soft lighting it gives for portraits: