The scenario: the day starts out nice and sunny – no rain in the forecast. Oops, they’re wrong again! Clouds roll in and drops begin to fall, so you hurry to put your camera away and get everyone in, right? Well, why not let them splash it up instead? You know how much fun they have jumping in puddles and getting messy, so tell yourself it’s okay and just expect to soak them all in the tub afterward.
Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate for us pros either. Freezing rain almost derailed one of my shoots set around two adorable sisters skiing. The weather kept us off the slopes but not from shooting. Since we spent the night at a picturesque historical inn, it quickly became our new backdrop. Lucky for me the inn also had plenty of shower caps that I could use to protect my camera (read on for related tips). We braved the elements outside and of course we topped it off with some hot chocolate to warm our bones!
Rain was just what Jo-Ann and I ran into last week when we set out to illustrate some sunny-day lighting scenarios. We had some super cute kids and a spacious backyard to play with. The only problem was that rain was in the forecast all week – and rain it did! We had a few tried and true options: cancel, delay or move the shoot inside. Instead, we did not to let the rain deter us and we all had a blast!
Here are some of our favorite rainy day shooting tips:
1. Keep your equipment dry from the get go whether it’s an SLR, a point-and-shoot or even a cell phone. If you have a helping hand around, ask them to hold an umbrella over you. Cover your camera with a small plastic bag or Ziploc, only leaving your lens glass bare. Those disposable shower caps I mentioned will work great here! A UV filter, if your lens takes one, will keep water off the glass too. Be doubly sure that no water gets near any of your camera’s ports or contacts for your battery, memory card, external flash or lens. Wipe off any moisture that does make it to your camera or lens right away and dry everything off again meticulously when you get inside. Use appropriate materials like lens tissue and microfiber cloths. Underwater cameras can be put to good use in the rain too and will eliminate all your equipment worry. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) to get all kids and gear inside when it’s coming down hard or during a thunderstorm.
2. Get great light even under cloudy conditions. Cloudy days can actually be great for outdoor portraits, offering really soft, flattering light. You don’t have to worry about “raccoon eyes” which are typical under harsh midday sun. Umbrellas, covered porches and even party tents will all keep you dry (bonus!) while offering their own unique photo opportunities – plus the lighting can be really gorgeous. Notice what happens to the light on your kids’ faces and have them shift around until you love it. When they’re running or jumping, a fast shutter speed (or your camera’s sports mode) will help grab them in motion. Try adding flash too even when the camera says you don’t need it (set your flash to always on instead of auto). Kids are fast, especially when you’re actually asking them to move around. Since the sun is not out, you’re probably going to need that flash to capture them without too much blur. It will also add a little contrast and a sparkle in their eyes.
3. Dress your kids in vibrant colors and fun patterns to keep a drab day looking fun and lively! When the sun is hiding behind clouds our world becomes a bit more muted, lacking vibrancy and punch. Use that to your advantage for a moody shot or turn the volume up on their wardrobe. Let them get involved too. Kids are always dressing themselves in mismatched patterns, colors and styles anyway and here is where it really works. They’ll have almost as much fun picking out their outfits beforehand as they will after they run out the door. Think about adding some cute hats and ponytails or braids to the mix so their hair doesn’t become “a hot mess”. Your shots will be as unique as their funky look.
So the next time it rains, there’s no need to blast Mother Nature. Let the kids celebrate her with a little rain dance and go shoot your heart out. Your kids will be surprised and it will show in their faces. You’ll probably wind up with some funny memories too. Tell us yours!