While we all dream of gorgeous warm summer evenings and couples wrapped in golden hour light, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. As a wedding photographer working throughout Maine and New England, I’ve seen my share of challenging weather conditions, including shooting three beautiful hurricane weddings.
Some of my favorite images have come out of the dreariest and stormiest wedding days. I truly believe the limitations of rain push the edges of personal creativity. Rain can be challenging, but it can also take your photography to greater heights and bring incomparable emotional depth to your image making.
When rain starts to fall, something magical happens: the typical wedding day stress melts like an exhaling of expectations. Everyone moves into a more relaxed state and into the present moment. This can translate directly into your images. It’s no longer about being perfect or ideal.
The conversation shifts and sounds like this…”let’s make the most of this amazing day, who cares if the sun isn’t out!”
The mood lightens. Laughter fills the air. It’s amazing how an umbrella and some rain boots bring out inner childhood spirit and real romance. Fair weather photographers, keep your golden light! I would give anything for a veil of fog and rain.
When you photograph in the rain, use your surrounding natural environment, cloud structures, puddles, reflections, and the tonality of light as guide stones to compose images. In wet and gray conditions, if you think more about capturing landscapes, you will produce stunning images. In a storm, there is immense energy and emotion communicated through the weather, so use it to your advantage as you compose.
Your images don’t always need to incorporate the weather. Amazing portraits can be shot in gray and wet conditions. In your tighter, more intimate shots, you don’t need to worry about the quality of light, because it will always be perfect. If you are outside in an urban area, you can position your couple under shelters of awnings, overhangs and porches. If it’s raining heavily, offer towels and tissues often.
Tips for Making the Most of Rainy Day Weddings:
- The Power of Persuasion – You may need to persuade your couples to go outside. Actually, you may need to persuade them to trust your creative vision at all in the rain. Many brides are heartbroken when the rain begins to fall. I find it helpful to listen to their frustrations and concerns but assure them that rainy weddings create gorgeous images.
- The Rainy Day Narrative – The story of a stormy weather wedding lends itself to priceless moments. Be on the lookout for details of how rainy weather influences the day’s events.
- Dress appropriately – Make sure you bring a raincoat and enough layers to keep yourself warm and dry.
- Don’t forget rain boots – One for you and one for the bride. I have an extra pair of size 8 1/2 boots I keep in my car that I lend to my brides if conditions are wet or muddy.
- Invest in two black umbrellas – I keep these in my bag as well. Sometimes, if bad weather isn’t in the forecast, your couples can be unprepared. Many of my clients are from California and not familiar with Maine weather, especially in the fall. Be their hero. Pack a black umbrella!
- Talk to the hair and makeup artists – If you’re able to photograph your bride before the wedding, do a quick check-in with the hair and makeup artists before they begin. Let them know that you’d like to shoot some photos outside (in the rain) and ask if they can use waterproof makeup and styling products.
- Bring back-up gear – Cameras are like cats, they really don’t like the water. Be prepared for instances of technology hiccups; bring back-up gear just in case. In a pinch, I’ve draped a poncho over my gear.
- Make sure your couples are warm and comfortable – This seems obvious, but don’t overlook your clients comfort and warmth while you play in the rain. Check in with them often, and offer coats and towels. Pay attention to their body language, some clients may not tell you when they’ve reach their limit or are uncomfortable.
- Check contingency plans – Sometimes couples will wait until the last minute to cancel their outdoor wedding plans. Be sure to check with your couples about their contingency plans. And if plans do change, make sure you’re in the loop and know where you need to be.
To get more comfortable shooting in the rain, go out and photograph stormy conditions. Pay attention to how the mood and light can change. If you are able too, try scheduling some rainy day couple sessions. Experiment and have fun!
About Erin Kroll
Erin is the principle photographer at Erin Kroll Photography, a destination wedding boutique located in Portland, Maine. She applies a holistic approach to her image making process and lives to capture the poetic memory in the narrative of documentary photography.