Worried about family photos in the rain? I often get this email in the fall from clients who are worried about their fall photo sessions: what happens if it rains at my photo session? You know what? It ALWAYS works out! We’re lucky here in the PNW to enjoy all four seasons–a sometimes snowy winter, a blossom-filled spring, a warm summer, and all the fall colors in autumn!
One of the trade offs though, is that we get a lot of RAIN! If you’ve been here any amount of time, this isn’t news to you…and if you’ve been here your whole life, maybe you LOVE the rain! You know when the rain ISN’T great though? When you’re rocking new outfits and professionally done hair for a portrait session. I specialize in warm, bright family portraits, and one of the keys to that is that my clients aren’t rain-soaked in the photos! Here’s how we deal with a rainy forecast or family photos in the rain:
Family Photos in the Rain: What Happens if It Rains At My Family Photo Session?
Think about what you want your final images to look like. Is fall really the right season for your session?
I always encourage clients to book in the summer, particularly if they’ve fallen in love with my portfolio images on my website. Most of those happen in the summer. That glowy light, the warm dry wheat fields, the light filtering through trees with green leaves…yep, that’s summertime!
I love fall sessions as well (and you can check some of those out on the blog here) but those are going to have a different look. That same glowing wheat field from the summer session gets mowed in the fall. The light is a little harsher because it’s filtered through bare branches instead of leafy trees. A park full of fall color will photograph nice and rich, with plenty of deep, warm color rather than that soft light.
My clients who always book fall sessions love this! Fall is their favorite season and so it makes sense to have sessions surrounded by rich yellow and orange leaves. But if you’re a summer person at heart and you want a light and bright wheat field, it might be best to book a summer session. I’ve blogged about this before, so check out this post to learn more about booking in the best season for you.
Avoid the rain by booking earlier than you think you need to, especially if you want to use these images for your holiday card.
My turnaround time is a week for family photos, so technically you could have a session in November and get your photos back in time to order and wait on holiday cards. But what happens if we have to reschedule because a huge rainstorm comes through on your session day? That whole timeline gets pushed back by a week or two depending on your availability to reschedule.
By November, we’re working around Thanksgiving travel schedules and even more winter-y weather, making reschedules more difficult. Also by late November, trees are losing their leaves. The moral? BOOK EARLY! Early October is ideal. It’s always a toss up how early the peak fall color will happen. In my opinion, it’s better to have slightly less fall color in your photos and have DRY weather conditions, rather than trying to shoot peak fall color in a rainstorm!
The day before your session, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the hourly forecast. Often, the rain will be on and off. This means dry weather half the day and wet weather the other half. If I look at the hourly forecast and see that you’re schedule for 4pm and rain is forecasted only from 3-7pm, I’ll reach out via email the evening before your session to see if you’re available to move your session to 10am instead, hitting the dry part of the day. It’s often all we need to do for a successful session! I know it can be a pain to keep a whole weekend day free, but that flexibility means your session will happen when you want it to, rather than having to wait a few weeks to reschedule. Speaking of reschedules…
If a storm comes through and it’s forecasted to rain heavily and steadily throughout the day, we will reschedule.
Trust me, you don’t want to look soaked in your photos. I love to give my clients a GREAT experience during their session, and that just doesn’t happen if you’re wet, worried about your hair looking wet, have raindrops all over your clothes, and your kids are miserable and cold. Why push it? We’ll reschedule to a different date. I only accept a few sessions each weekend day during the fall so that we have some room to reschedule quickly. Normally we only have to reschedule a week or two out. If you’ve booked earlier than needed, that still gives us plenty of time! But if we can’t reschedule and the rain is inevitable…
Prepare for family photos in the rain!
While this isn’t my preferred option, sometimes we just can’t reschedule an important session. If a studio rental isn’t an option for us, we can go ahead and shoot in the rain. After years as a wedding photographer and rolling with whatever nature throws at us on a wedding day, I know how to make this work. You’ll want to bring several large umbrellas for the whole family: the clear bubble umbrellas are great to include in photos. The regular black umbrellas are fine in a pinch for standing under until the moment we take the shot, when we can toss them aside.
The photo at the top of this post was done this way! The most important thing to keep in mind with this approach is that you’re going to get wet. It seems obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that we’ll have to go with the flow a bit more, and go with present over perfect.
Studio option instead of family photos in the rain
Just have to shoot during that rainstorm but don’t want to risk getting wet? Let’s move inside! For an additional fee, we can rent time in a studio in Portland or Salem. If you’re okay with the drive and the cost, we can book time at a studio if it’s available. Again though, I’m always encouraging my clients to remember their vision for their photos. Most of my clients are like me, they LOVE being outside with their family and that’s what they want to remember in the photos! Usually I think waiting a week or two is worth it!
What about covered areas for family photos in the rain?
If we’re doing family photos in the rain, can’t we just find a covered area at our park to shoot at? While the parks I often shoot at do indeed have covered areas, don’t forget the end results you have in mind! Does your vision for the photo on your holiday card include brown picnic benches on a cement slab? Because those are EVERYWHERE in the covered area at Champoeg State Park. There’s no getting around them!
Parks generally have covered picnic areas…and they just aren’t photogenic! The covered area at Jenkins Estate is painted dark brown, which means your images are going to read really dark and, well, brown! I can think of a few other covered areas that are a bit lighter, but those are smaller porches. If it’s a WINDY day along with the rain…that rain is going to blow right in and get you wet. Not to be a Negative Nancy, but raindrops show up on clothes! It’s WAY easier and more comfortable for you to reschedule. You’ll also get the benefit of variety in your gallery that you simply won’t get if we’re limited to shooting on a small covered porch.
All of this boils down to the most important step you can take when you book your family photos. What do you want your final photos to look like? What do you envision hanging above your mantel or on this year’s holiday cards? Once you give that some thought, it will help inform every other choice, from what season to book your session in down to the location you choose. And if it rains on your fall photo session date, reschedule it or go with it to give you the photos you want.
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