This post is long overdue as I’ve been meaning to devote time to penning it for a while. This year has been one of the most difficult with weather-related rescheduling and I feel the need to explain the logistics and how the client can support this daunting decision-making process. After speaking to other photographer friends, the weather is one of top stressors we face and has even led one photographer to cease offering portrait services. Let me explain.
Forecasts: Most photographers I know are obsessed with the weather. Our job depends on it and we frequently check it ferociously. I have SIX weather apps on my phone and they usually all say something different. I base my weather-related decisions on what the majority says and the average chance of precipitation from all of my apps. In case you want to know, I find Accuweather to live up to its name. For day-of decisions, I will also watch the radar. In addition, I did take college-level meteorology, so that knowledge comes in handy.
When photographers should make a decision: For single sessions, I always wait until the day of to make a final decision on rescheduling. This is because the weather can change so quickly here in Virginia. What makes this extra difficult is when the client has time constraints, or hair and makeup services scheduled. I require my clients share my weather policy with their professional stylist so they know what to expect. If your stylist isn’t amenable to this policy, I urge you to find one who is. Shooting outdoors is the nature of my job and I must have optimal conditions for creating portraits.
One the other hand, a day-of decision may not always work for photography events when they involve many people or multiple families, especially if they fall during prime season. I try to wait and make these decisions as close to the event as possible, but sometimes situations require planning further ahead. For weekend sessions when I’m shooting multiple families, if the forecast is threatening, I must have availability in my schedule to be able to move them if needed. This year, I have very little weekend availability and only two weekend openings to possibly reschedule, one being the Saturday prior to a round of Sunday sessions with potential rain, and the other being the Saturday morning after. This situation absolutely required rescheduling in advance due to the number of families I was serving. Not to mention more than half of my previous week sessions were rescheduled due to rain. The logistics of this situation were so difficult. I was incredibly anxious and lost a lot of sleep. Ultimately, if I waited to make this decision, I would have lost out on a weekend day I could offer my clients. This year, weather cancellations and COVID situations have compounded, pushing multiple sessions forward and leading to little extra availability. This week alone I’m shooting 15 sessions (I typically shoot no more than 5-6) if that puts things into perspective.
What if the forecast is wrong: A forecast is often wrong even for the most experienced meteorologists! Trust me, when your photographer cancels for rain, they are praying it rains. The last thing we want is a perfectly beautiful, wasted day. Don’t rub it in, I can assure you we already feel bad enough. Or, on the rare occasion it starts raining during your session, I can guarantee it was not expected. In this case, we will finish the session another day.
There’s nothing a busy photographer wants more than all of their sessions to go as scheduled. Keep in mind that if your session needs to be rescheduled, it affects a busy photographer’s schedule way more than a single family or one client. I’m working with the needs of multiple clients and must have built in time to post-process your images, too. I’m very respectful of my client’s time and realize we all have obligations, but please be kind and understanding. If you want an outdoor session, you MUST be willing to be flexible with weather. If you cannot, I highly suggest hiring a photographer who specializes in indoor studio portraits.
Other weather-related issues:
HEAT. Sweat isn’t pretty in portraits. Neither is frizzy hair, falling out curls, or running makeup after you’ve spent all the effort to style. Virginia heat and humidity is not kind. And although this is a very personal matter, I have a cardiac condition which is severely triggered by the heat. If it’s too hot/humid, I have no choice but to reschedule.
DARK CLOUDS: So maybe it’s not raining at the moment, but there are dark clouds all around. I shoot using natural light and dark clouds cast unflattering shadows on the face. Plus, if there are dark clouds, rain is usually a greater threat.
WIND: I love nothing more than a soft breeze blowing for portraits. But if the wind gusts are particularly strong, we have to reschedule. Shooting in between wind gusts is frustrating, ruins hair styles, and most likely will not yield the number of portraits I promise.
OVERCAST DAYS: Overcast days are perfect to shoot in as long as the clouds are white. This creates a huge “softbox” effect and is particularly flattering on the skin. As long as the threat of rain isn’t present, overcast days are lovely for sessions.
I hope this casts a light on the importance of the weather for the success of your session and the logistical issues photographers face when a decision needs to be made. I always pray for great weather for my clients. I want nothing more than to create my signature sunny, glowy portraits for you on every occasion!
If you’re a photographer, I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you handle weather-related issues to ensure a positive client experience. Please get in touch!
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