How To Get Great Wedding Photos In All Kinds Of Weather
by Doug Madden, Duetimage Photography
“Don’t be angry with the rain. It simply doesn’t know how to fall upwards.” — Vladimir Nabokov
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It’s not going to rain on your wedding day!
How do we know that?
Because that’s what the Knot and Wedding Wire and Style Me Pretty and every other blog in the universe tells us. Just look at all those real wedding photos. Not a drop of rain anywhere. All those real weddings are outdoors, under sunny blue skies, with the Santa Monica Mountains in the distance.
Wait a minute — Santa Monica Mountains?
If you’re a SoCal bride, the odds are in your favor that you’ll have sunny blue skies. But if you’re a Hudson Valley bride, there’s a very big chance that your wedding day could have less than desirable weather conditions.
Here are some of our tips for getting the most out of your wedding photography in rain, snow, and — yes — full sun.
Rain is a major game changer because everything you might’ve planned for the outdoors has now got to happen indoors. Your imagery will then depend a lot on your photographer’s ability to handle artificial light.
Quite often in the wedding photography business, you will hear photographers say things like “I prefer to shoot in natural light” or “I only work with natural light because flash looks too artificial.” In some cases, this comes out of an aesthetic value that is genuine because honestly, nothing beats “Mr. Sunshine”. But in most cases, I think this statement can be translated to mean: “I don’t know how to shoot with a flash”.
Light has a mind of its own. It bounces off walls, ceilings, and floors. It reflects off bright clothing or gets gobbled up by dark fabrics. With the sun as your sole light source, you always know where it is and where the shadows are. But when a flash tries to take over the job, especially indoors, there are a lot of unknowns. Your photographer’s experience will help him or her envision what that flash will do once it is fired. There’s a lot of brainpower that goes into the mathematical calculations required for a good exposure. For photographers who like working with artificial light, this is a challenge they eagerly await. For natural light photographers, however, this is a task to be avoided.
If you’re concerned about rain, it’s a good idea to have an honest conversation with your photographer. Ask how they feel about shooting indoors if rain forces you inside. Also, look at their portfolios. How many indoor images do they show? The number will tell you a lot. If every shot you see is taken outdoors on a sunny day, your real concern is not just rain: it is really about how well your photographer will handle all aspects of indoor photography (like your reception coverage).
Snow is Your Frenemy
Snow, like rain, can force you indoors when it’s really bad. But when it’s a gentle snowfall or after it has already accumulated, it can be magical.
First, let’s talk about the magical. Snow changes landscapes and compositions. It brightens things up with a certain glow and brings purity to your imagery.
Put a lot of thought into your outerwear if you’re planning a winter wedding. Furry wraps, fluffy scarves, headwear will all have a role to play in your look. Do you want to be Elsa the Ice Princess, or Lara from Doctor Zhivago? Footwear is a practical decision as well as a fashion decision. Bring along some nice winter boots for any outdoors photos then switch over to your glass slippers for the indoor portion of your event.
Pinterest has a motherload of ideas for props and things to do in the snow, but here, off the top of my head, are a few ideas for posed imagery:
1) Make a miniature snow bride and a snowgroom as self-portraits
2) Trace your name and wedding date in a field of snow
3) Toss some powdery snow into the air and let it come down like confetti.
As for the ugly side of snow, the things you need to be concerned about are mostly financial. If a blizzard strikes on your day, you and your guests won’t likely make it to your venue. Make sure that your photographer’s retainer refundability is spelled out. In the event of snow cancellations, our studio will honor your booking for another day. Other vendors and venues have their own policies regarding snow cancellations. Wedding insurance is a VERY good idea for winter weddings, and we can’t stress that enough.
Sunshine: Too Much of a Good Thing
We all have an assumption that all’s well when the sun is shining on your wedding day. But as we all know, there can often be too much of a good thing.
For photographers shooting in strong sunlight, especially at midday, there is the problem of strong shadows. In such situations, photographers will try to compensate with reflectors or flashes, or seek shade in which to take pictures. But an even better way to deal with the issue is to schedule portraiture for hours when the sun is not directly overhead.
If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony, be careful to check which direction your audience will be seated in relation to the officiant. If your officiant will be standing with the sun directly at his or her back, your photographer (just like your guests) will be staring directly into the sun. This can create flares in your imagery which can be pesky; sometimes they look great, sometimes they can blow out an image. If you have control over your outdoor ceremony staging area, take steps to minimize a bright sun from upstaging your nuptials.
Finally, hot sun can cause discomfort, makeup fails, and health issues. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, make sure you and your guests have plenty of sunscreen. Brides should consider makeup with UV protection and which stands up well to perspiration. Make sure water is readily available for everyone, and for those senior citizens on your guest list, try to make sure there are umbrellas or some other forms of shade available.
Embrace Mother Nature .. and Your Photographer
It would be wonderful if we had total control over the weather. But as we are mere mortals, that’s just a fantasy. The final and best piece of advice we can offer is to trust your photographer’s creative instincts to use undesirable weather to your advantage. If you’re comfortable with getting wet, cold, or sunburnt for great images, go for it.
Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly series (through December) where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. This is not a sponsored post. Join us next week as our Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit continues with more great advice from Hudson Valley wedding photographers as they answer the most commonly asked photography questions.
Featured Photo Credit: Duetimage Photography