Rain doesn’t have to scare you as a wedding photographer, but we know it definitely makes our jobs challenging! A lot of photographers mention being afraid of a rainy wedding day, so if you are one of those, then this post is for you! Here are our 3 tips to remember when shooting a rainy wedding day- we’ve had our fair share to deal with, for sure!
Tip #1 – Supply the Umbrellas
We used to cross our fingers and hope that our clients would provide umbrellas, but oftentimes, they wouldn’t! After one amazing couple purchased 10 matching umbrellas for their wedding, we thought, “What are they going to do with 12 umbrellas after their wedding?” So, we offered to buy them from our couple after their wedding, so that we’d always have a matching set for any future wedding day! We finally realized it was kind of unfair for us to expect all of our couples to have exactly the right kind and right amount of umbrellas, so we decided to do something about it! Running a business focused on providing a great client experience requires you to really think through decisions you make every year, and we finally realized it provided our clients with a better experience when we provided them with umbrellas, instead of just hoping they’d buy some!
Unfortunately, having umbrellas won’t solve your problems on a torrential downpour wedding day, but they are perfect for wedding days where it is lightly raining or misty! When making your umbrella purchase, we suggest choosing clear umbrellas no matter what. You wouldn’t believe how much a colored umbrella can reflect onto your client’s face! (No one wants red-faced wedding portraits!) We recommend having enough umbrellas so that each “couple,” meaning a bridesmaid & groomsen paired together, has an umbrella- including the bride and groom! For example, if we had a bridal party with 6 bridesmaids, 6 groomsmen, and a bride & groom, we’d want 7 umbrellas total. We’d also purchase at least 2 more so that each of us as photographers can hold one over our cameras while we shoot! Plus, it never hurts to have extras, so don’t be afraid to invest in 10-15 just to have them! Amazon has some great options!
Tip #2 – Use Overhangs
Overhangs have been a lifesaver for us on our rainy wedding days! Our 2019 wedding season had at least some rain at almost half of our weddings that year! (What is this, Seattle?!) We had no choice but to figure out how to handle these wedding days, and one hack we discovered was overhangs and carports! This is how we were able to shoot outside every one of our raining weddings in 2019!
When you do have a carport to work with, make sure to put your subjects right on the edge of it so they as far on the edge of the overhangs as they can be without getting wet! This helps ensure tons of light can reach their faces. If you have them step back, it will block the light from their faces, resulting in darker images that will be harder to edit!
Here is another rainy wedding day with another carport! It’s a fantastic way to get outdoor shots, but as the photographer, be prepared to get wet! Notice how we had to stand out in the rain to get the shot. Always remember that wedding days are not about you- they are about the couple!
Tip #3 – Be Confident With OCF
The more we teach, the more we come across photographers who don’t feel they are confident with OCF! If you aren’t confident with OCF normally, you are definitely not going to be ready for a complete washout wedding! Before we scare you too much, know that out of the 100+ weddings we’ve shot, we have only had 2 weddings we couldn’t go outside at all! Now, we shoot as much as possible outdoors, and our couples are amazing and are always up for going outside… but on 2 occasions, the rain has been so bad that we wouldn’t have even let our couples try to go outside! So, hopefully around less than 2% of the weddings you book will be total washouts! 😉 That’s pretty good odds, and your odds could even be better depending on where you live! The moral of the story is that you should know how to use OCF so that you don’t have to be afraid of rain on a wedding day. Those 2 weddings where we had to shoot 100% of the photos indoors showed us that we had to know how to handle situations like those, and we’re so thankful we were still able to get our couples some amazing images even though we were stuck inside!
As a little motivation to get you started with OCF, here is how we teach OCF to photographers… we like to call it the clock method!
The Clock Method
The first thing we’d recommend is to practice with your flash in less stressful situations… aka, at home or in your office! Sometimes it’s easy to practice at home with your spouse or pet. Practice setting up (and later, tearing down) all your gear, and practice troubleshooting your gear so that you know what to do in the heat of the moment, no matter what error may come up!
When you are actually using your flash, think of a clock! Picturing that clock? If your goal is an evenly lit image with not a lot of contrast, now imagine you are standing at 6, and you are facing your client! Put your flash at 5 or 7, pointed towards your subject. Below is a page right out of our OCF Guide!
We hope the above guide can help you visualize what we’re saying. Below is another page out of our OCF guide that might help you if you still aren’t there yet! Our guide is full of written information and diagrams like the one above! So if you learn that way, we would recommend you purchasing our guide! The guide also includes some portraits we took with an OCF flash setup. Those photos were taken at a wedding we were not able to go outside at all! (You can also click here to check out all of our PDF Guides!)
Bonus Tip #4 – If OCF Scares You, Find a Window
Sometimes windows can save you when you have to shoot indoors, but we don’t ever want you to rely solely on windows! In the end, having a big window can be SO helpful! Of the 2 weddings where we couldn’t go outside, 1 was at a venue that had really big windows we could use! We were able to use these windows for almost all of our creative photos that whole day. We do have one simple rule with windows though… when shooting, have your back to the window so that the light is on your clients! For some creative shots, you can definitely use the windows as the background. For the majority of the shots, though, we recommend having the couple facing the window! Below, you can see the window we used and a couple of portrait shots we took using the window!
We hope these tips help you feel more confident as you prepare for your next rainy wedding day! Feel free to comment below with any questions you have about rainy wedding days, and we would love to help you out!