Shooting Around the Weather

Shooting around the weather is particularly poignant at the moment, we have had weeks of rain after a glorious burst of late summer and I can see the sprits of family photographers throughout the UK not just dampen but get washed away in the seemingly constant downpours.

Long ago did I question my sanity when I realised I had based my entire business model around firstly, young children (and often animals) in the British weather and secondly, the arrival of newborn babies. Duh?

Closely following on the heels of that dawning realisation though is the warm glow and fulfilment I get from photographing those two groups of humans, so the only option was to find a way to make it work without completely losing the plot.

The weather and encouraging newborns to arrive are situations well out of mine or anybody else’s control, so firstly as a photographer in these areas you can’t take the blame for it but by the same token you are expected to be flexible.

  • I regularly get messages from photographers asking how I cope with shooting around the weather, all the rescheduling and a constantly shifting diary so I thought I’d share my top tips for you here:Make watching the weather app part of your life, by that I mean check it as regularly as you do Instagram! I use the Met Office app and say what you will about them, if you look at it often enough you start to get an overall sense of what’s happening.  It will change constantly because they update the forecast every hour but on the whole I find that whatever the forecast was five days before will generally be the way it goes down.  Start watching the forecast 5-7 days before a session and you’ll be better informed to make a decision.
  • As with every aspect of your photography business it is your job, your responsibility to manage your clients expectations.  By that I mean tell them what happens if the forecast looks unfavourable, and tell them well in advance.  Let them know at what point you’ll make the call as to whether their session will go ahead.  I usually get in touch a few days before if it’s looking like we might be rescheduling and discuss an alternative date but will let them know I’ll make the final call the afternoon before.
  • Following on from the previous tip you may also want to discuss the types of weather you WILL shoot in, if it’s everything apart from rain, let them know that they may not be lucky enough to get sunbursts and backlighting.  On the other hand that may be the only thing they want in which case you will all need to be very flexible and ready to go for it with 24hrs notice.  Even though the forecast can often be predictable it can also be just as unpredictable and an opportunity may arise out of the blue.  A beautiful evening and no clients to photograph is painful to a family photographer so don’t just sit there dreaming what could have been.  Get in touch with all your up coming clients and ask if they can take advantage of this happy situation.  They’ll thank you for being proactive and caring about them.
  • What about if it’s dry but unexpectedly cold?  The onset of winter is one of the main reasons I stop family sessions at the end of October/beginning of November as it just gets too cold for little ones.  If it’s just adults, no problem but kids will be unhappy and it will likely show in their photos.  Clothing is an issue for those of you who like to style your sessions. Families rarely have coordinating coats so even if you have carefully worked on the styling it can all go to pot with the addition of Puffa jackets.  Again, educate your clients that they will need to layer themselves and especially their children with 2-3 layers more than they might normally wear under their outfits in the form of long vests, tights and long sleeved t-shirts. If you are blessed with some winter rays, their photos can still look like they were shot in the gloriously warm Autumn sunshine.
  • If you have to shoot late in the year and the weather works against you, be clear about what happens if you just can’t get the session done.  You could offer an indoor home session around Christmas or postpone it until next year in the first flush of Spring.

I hope that was helpful, as always feel free to comment below or get in touch with any questions.


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