Rain on your wedding day can be quite a downer for most brides even though many cultures see rain as good fortune, cleansing and fertility. Often brides wonder how they are going to still get good photos if it's raining. Here are some tips for photographers that I've picked up over the years having shot numerous weddings in the rain.
Be Sure To Back-Light The Rain Drops
The best way to get rain drops to show up in a picture is to backlight them. I like to do this with flashes, but this could also be done with a porch light or even the sun. By backlighting the rain drops they will stand out more in the photo as little bright areas on your photographs as the light passes through the water.
Have Plastic Bags Available
While most professional camera bodies, lenses and flashes are weather-sealed that does not mean you shouldn't provide a little extra protection for them. After all I would rather use a $0.25 bag to protect my gear than have to send it in for repairs. I like to keep zip lock bags in my bag that I can toss over my flashes when needed outdoors (the gallon size bag is perfect for your camera and lens) and a poncho. If you're afraid of how you look with plastic bags keeping your gear dry you can purchase fitted plastic covers for your camera and lenses.
Look For Reflections in The Puddles
Use those puddles to your advantage by finding interesting reflections that you can use to include in your photos. In this shot I ended up just turning it upside down in Photoshop to create a unique looking shot.
Raise Your ISO
Rain typically means dark clouds. Offset those clouds by boosting your ISO. You might be use to shooting photos outside at ISO 200. Don't hesitate to now raise your ISO up to 800, 1600 or if shooting with a professional body such as the Canon 5D Mark III or Nikon D4 all the way to 3200.
Rain Makes For Great Colors in Photos
One of my favorite things about shooting in the rain is how the photos all come out with beautiful saturated colors. The greens are greener, blues bluer and even the wet driveway at the venue looks amazing.
Watch Your Shutter Speed
If you are not using a flash to freeze the falling raindrops than make sure you have chosen a shutter speed that is fast enough to catch them. That will most likely be 1/500th of a second or faster.
Don't Just Shoot Wide Open
It is popular these days that photographers shoot most of the wedding photos with wide open apertures. Remember though if you are shooting in the rain in order to capture the most amount of drops possible you'll need more depth of field than just a few inches. So don't be afraid to shoot at f5.6 for example to open up your depth of field a bit more.
The bride and groom are going to be looking at you for reassurance that everything will be ok. They will be listening to what you say and more importantly your body language. Keep it positive and make sure they understand you are down to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at you and will still get beautiful images.
Look For Areas of Cover Such As Awnings, Porches, Tree Coverings
Often under the stress of the rain we forget that there are plenty of places where we can still shoot and stay entirely dry.
Use Umbrellas As Props and Reflectors
Umbrellas not only make for a great addition to the photographs as a prop but they are wonderful at kicking light back down on our couples. Keep an umbrella stored under the seat of your car that works well for photos. Here's one on Amazon for $9. Don't wait till one is needed and then have to settle for using one with ugly colors, strange patterns or large advertising plastered across it.
Tell The Story Of The Wedding With Rain Included
Don't try to tell a different story of the wedding day by not including photos of the rain. Embrace the weather and enjoy it. Also remember that it is not very often that it will rain non-stop for hours. You'll typically find a break in the weather, even if just for a few minutes. Let the couple know that during those small breaks you would like to take advantage of the time and grab some photos.
Encourage The Couple To Carry On With Regular Activities
Often the bride and groom and their family will be looking to you for advice on the wedding day. Unless you say something they'll plan on canceling certain activities that they might have otherwise planned thinking it's no longer possible. On March 1, 2014 I shot a wedding in which we experienced a torrential down pour of rain. At the end of reception the rain was still pouring and the couple suggested just not doing the sparkler exit. I encouraged them to go forward with it and that I would love to capture the event for them even though that meant I would be getting wet. So we gathered up their close friends and family, lit the sparklers under the porch awning and rain out in the rain forming a tunnel. The couple walked through it and we got this beautiful image.
Hopefully these tips have been helpful and will give you that extra boost of confidence you need the next time you see rain forecasted on the day of your shoot. Relax, grab your rain coat, put your smile back on and enjoy the experience while creating unique photos for your clients.
All Photos by Trevor Dayley
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