„What if it rains?” – the most frequently asked question ever

The most frequently asked question for anyone booking a location photo shoot without doubt is this one: „What if it rains?” I have heard and answered this question so many times, that I thought this is a topic worthy of a seperate post. So, let’s talk about weather then 😉

English Weather seen by a foreigner

As you may know I come from Poland and have lived in the UK for over 14 years. I needed to make many adjustments, learn a lot about the culture that I chose to live in and that included understanding and fully accepting the proverbial English weather. Since I first came in the UK I discovered a few things about weather:

  • It rains here a lot. All year round (a new thing for me as I never saw rain in winter before).
  • Weather forecast is as fluid and as unpredictable as the weather itself. Checking it hardly ever makes any difference so I expect nothing. Or in fact everything. If I want to know the weather I need to look out. Simple.
  • You can have 4 seasons and all sorts of weather in one day. Sun, rain, sleet, hail or even snow. I wouldn’t be shocked aby more. In my bag I usually have sunglasses and a small brolly. And there have been many, many, many days when I used both.
  • Seasons are not obvious. In some years you may see proper summer and proper winter (remember the Beast from the East?) but most of the time the temperature is moderate and flactuates between 5 and 15 degrees. If it it more than 15 people say it’s warm. When it hits 23 people (mis)use the word ‚hot’. Same with low temperatures. When it is between -1 and 3 people call it freezing, extreme and so on. You may have seen an Eastern European snigger when you said it was unbearable at -1. Please forgive them. -20 is when it is acceptable to use the phrase ‚freezing’ on the continent. Anything above it is generally cold. Or very cold. A personal vocabulary preference, I suppose.

Anyway, this newly aquired knowledge (now a well established knowledge) became a big issue once I started making my living by photographing people, and some of it was scheduled outdoors. I needed to have a contingency plan, especially when this question started popping up a lot.

By the way, if you are on a fence about a family shoot and are debating location shoot, please please please go for location. There are tens of reasons why families belong outdoors and I did a little post about it some time ago. I listed only Five Reasons To Go for a Family Outdoors Photo Shoot here.

So, what if it rains, you ask.

Jim Richardson, a renowned National Geographic photojournalist has famously said: „When it starts to rain, good photographers head out to make pictures”. I heard that phrase some time ago and I made a pledge to myself to try to be one of these ‚good photographers’. I confess. I don’t go out too often voluntarily, yet when I have a photo shoot booked, I do not worry about showers.

I appreciate my clients are not always as enthusiastic as I am and they do ask this question sometimes.

The answer is not a simple one.

In a nutshell: It depends.

If it is a day of location minis (such as summer or Christmas minis):

  • My minis are usually short and sweet and are booked back to back. That means a client every half an hour, usually between 6 and 10 in each day, depending on the type. The short answer to the ‚rain’ issue here would be: No. We will crack on and embrace the rain. I could theoretically offer another date but that would mean rescheduling everyone’s shoot with zero guarantee that the newly booked day would be a dry one. In terms of quality of images – there is no issue here. Overcast sky and no harsh shadows are every photographer’s objectives so apart from worrying about ruining the equipment there is no reason not to photograph in the rain. Back in 2017 I booked a whole day of minis and unfortunately this time the forecast turned out to be correct. It didn’t just rain. It poured like crazy. My clients were a bit apprehensive at first but when I informed them that I was  coming regardless (I physically could not offer an alternative as I was going on holiday) they ALL turned up. We did get some dry spells too, but mostly we got this:
  • family photo shoot exeter family photo shoot exeter family photo shoot exeter family photo shoot exeter family photo shoot exeter family photo shoot exeter

Can you see any grumpy faces? No. Instead you can see kids and parents having the best time. In cliche terms, making lemonade out of the lemons that life gave them 🙂

If it is a full length photo shoot

These are usually booked in advance for a particular reason (like updating your family wall display, birthdays, celebrations or family gatherings). I also plan them more carefully with families so I appreciate more effort (and possibly money) is spent on preparing for these. Therefore, I am always receptive and open to be led by my clients’ wishes. I usually advise waiting until last minute (not literally,  normally a few hours beforehand) and we jointly make a decision. If it is freightful and you can’t imagine stepping outside, no worries. We will execute plan B and will reschedule.

Bragging alert: I only rescheduled a photo shoot because of bad (really bad!) weather ONCE. One single time in 2018. On other occasions it either stopped raining just in time to do the photo shoot or families did not mind the rain and we cracked on. Hand on heart.

These are just two of the brave ones who were simply too excited to wait for another day. They came happy, excited and had the best time. It rained but they didn’t let it ruin their joy. What troppers!

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Have you every heard the saying that there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing? This is the principle we use in our family and never stay away from puddles, snow, rain or any other non-cosy weather. Proof?

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If you are planning a family photo shoot and it is likely to rain here are a few tips what to do to nail it:

  • Stay positive. It is supposed to be a fun experience for everyone so don’t let things you cannot control spoil your mood.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and waterproof footwear. You don’t want to be panicking about getting your toes wet when you step into a puddle. Wellies are definitely welcome
  • Bring a colourful brolly and wellies. Jump in these puddles and have some fun with your kids. Especially if you have never done it before.
  • Bring a towel, just in case.
  • Bring a change of clothing so that you can slip into a dry pair of trousers or socks after we have finished.

And I’m ending with a dedication for you for getting to the end of the post 🙂


Aga x

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