I used to be terrified of shooting weddings on rainy days! The fear of damaging my equipment, the dreary lighting conditions, and the sheer stress of bad weather made me nervous. But, after five full wedding seasons, I’ve learned quite a few tricks to mastering whatever mother nature throws our way and I’m excited to share them with you!
In today’s post, I’ll be covering the tools I use to make shooting in rainy weather easier, where I look to find good indoor and outdoor location options, and how a positive attitude can change the entire trajectory of the wedding day portrait time! Whether you’re new to photographing weddings or looking to improve your craft, I hope today’s post can offer a little insight into how I personally handle difficult weather scenarios!
Step One: Be Prepared
Gather the tools you need to capture flawless images in any weather conditions before your first rainy wedding! I keep a kit that includes umbrellas, plastic bags, a shower curtain, and a few other items in my storage closet throughout the year to bring out when the forecast calls for anything over a 30% change of rain that day! I easily throw the gear in the back of my car and keep it there just incase I need it!
My Rainy Day Wedding Preparedness Kit:
1) Umbrellas: I recommend purchasing either clear or white umbrellas for your preparedness kit as they allow a little bit of light to filter through the top and don’t leave a strong color cast on your subject! You can purchase them in bulk packs directly, here: Clear Dome Umbrellas (10 Pack) or the alternative White Wedding Golf Umbrellas (12 Pack). I would recommend having at least ten of the same color or tone for the entire bridal party so that everyone can have their own umbrella! This allows you to get incredibly creative with posing larger groups outside regardless of the weather!
2) Reflector: When you’re limited to photographing under cover or using window light as your primary source of soft, natural light, having a collapsable reflector is a game changing tool! I absolutely love my ePhoto Collapsible Oval Reflector that at 43″ x 66″ is large enough to redirect a significant amount of light back onto your subject. (I use this on sunny days as well!) It especially comes in handy for bride and groom portraits, and collapses down to a reasonable size for transportation!
3) Plastic Bags: Some of my favorite images are rainy day night photographs with off camera flash! My assistant, Maddie, discovered last year that a newspaper bag fits perfectly over the flash (and Pocketwizards!) and we always keep a few on hand to protect our equipment from the rain! You can easily collect a few and store them in your preparedness kit or purchase them directly in bulk. >> Polypropylene Newspaper Bags (I could only find them in a giant set on amazon, so if you do purchase them – consider splitting them up between a few photographer friends and keeping some in different places so that you always have them on hand for creating epic night portraits in the rain!)
When shooting in the rain, I generally have my assistant hold an umbrella over me to protect my gear from the elements so the off camera flash on a light stand is often the only piece of equipment that remains unprotected! If you don’t have someone to help keep your camera + lenses dry, add large bags like the Ziploc Double Zipper 10 Gallon Bags to your kit. You can easily clip a hole into the bag with scissors to fit your lens through, while protecting the rest of the body. Most camera bodies and lenses are water resistant, but be aware that this doesn’t mean they are completely waterproof and you should still be cautious before getting them soaked!
4) Non-Abrasive Wipes: It’s important for every photographer to have a set of non-abrasive wipes in their gear bag regardless of the weather and I’ve been using PEC-PAD Lint Free Wipes 4″x4″ ever since my photography professor introduced me to them at UPenn! Raindrops can easily fall onto your lens when shooting in the rain and I keep these handy to clear off my filter / lens whenever necessary!
5) Clear Shower Curtains: This is a trick I learned from doing editorial shoots with expensive designer gowns that I’ve started incorporating into rainy wedding days! When the ground is extremely wet or muddy, place a clear shower curtain on the ground and have the bride stand on top of it for the photograph. You can take the excess plastic sheeting and simply tuck it under the dress so that it disappears flawlessly in the photographs, but prevents the lace or tulle from getting ruined! I keep these Clear Shower Liners in my kit and they also work great as a tarp to throw over your gear or to wrap around your bag in a pinch!
It also helps to keep ponchos or a spare rain jacket in your car as well and a change of clothes. I always have an extra dress + pair of shoes in my trunk incase I need it and recommend doing the same! You never know when you’re going to get caught in a storm or trip and get mud all over your brand new shooting dress… which I may or may not have done in the past! (Lets be real… I’m a little uncoordinated at times!)
If you have any other preparedness suggestions, be sure to leave them in the comments section below! And just a reminder that as a participant in the Amazon Associates Program all purchases made from the links in this post help to fund the free Educational Content that I share on Tech-Talk Tuesdays!
Step Two: Find Good Indoor + Covered Outdoor Options
When it rains, you have to get a little more creative about where you photograph group portraits! Some signature spots: Porches, Covered Corridors, Sun-Rooms, and even Garages when you open up the doors! If you have the ability to scout out your location in advance this can be a huge help in your overall strategy. I love photographing weddings at locations in cities and on college campuses that have large covered pathways and corridors to photograph underneath because there are always great options for covered outdoor areas!
Covered Outdoor Options with Good Light May Include:
- College Campuses: Covered Corridors, Open Libraries, and large spaces for group portraits.
- Porches: Front Porches are always a good option for a protected space with natural light.
- Garages: If you open Garage doors, it allows for a lot of natural light to filter in! You can also take a tip from my friend Katelyn and find a parking garage!
- Public and Government Buildings: State Houses and Monuments (with the proper permits) are often covered and open for public use! We’ve used the Annapolis State House on more than one occasion and the photographs turned out beautifully! Many of these buildings are also made with bright marble which acts as a natural reflector for beautiful, soft light!
Rooms with large windows are also fantastic as you can create that same sense of natural light indoors as well! I love a good hotel room window for an intimate bridal portrait and then finding a lobby for the bridal party if there are sufficient windows! Whenever I’m unfamiliar with a location and there is a significant chance of precipitation, I’ll arrive 10 minutes early to do a quick scout session!
Step Three: Stay Positive and Be Creative
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to have a positive attitude when the weather takes a turn for the worse! The bride and groom are already going to be stressed when they see storm clouds on the horizon and by embracing the situation with a positive, “how can we make this incredible” attitude, it helps to keep everyone calm!
I often tell my brides, “Don’t worry about the rain! If it rains, we will make that one of the most beautiful and iconic parts of your wedding day!” And I’ve found that rather than avoiding the issue all together, it’s best to step up and embrace it. Don’t run away from the rain, but look at it as a unique obstacle that presents a spectacular opportunity for image creation! There is so much you can do with rain, puddles, reflections, and the cozy stroll of a couple under a big umbrella!
Rain is a part of that couple’s story… So use that to creatively inspire your work!
You all know that I’m a big fan of natural light, however there are situations when utilizing off camera flash can make all the difference on a dreary day! Rain looks absolutely stunning when backlit at night and this is quickly becoming my go-to method for creating a spectacular photograph.
It’s so simple to do: Set up a single off camera flash behind your subject, approximately 5-8ft away and set your flash to 1/64 power. You may need to vary the intensity depending on the overall conditions, but I’ve found 1/64 is a great place to start at that distance! You can also add a second on camera flash to illuminate your subject directly if there isn’t enough ambient light filling their faces. Even if you prefer soft, natural portraits 99% of the time… rainy night shots simply can’t be beat!
And if you’re struggling with your Off Camera Lighting in general, you absolutely need to pick up The Lighting Guide from my friends Justin and Mary who are truly the masters of understanding artificial light! (*PS – Use my name,“NATALIEFRANKE” for $79 off and be ready to conquer night portraits like a pro!) They have taught me so much!
Remember the Take-Home Tips: Be Prepared, Find Good Cover, Stay Positive + Be Creative.
Rainy Day Weddings offer a unique opportunity to create beautiful images if you’re prepared and inspired! It also helps to have a couple that is up for anything… including a little stroll together under a big umbrella!