How To Take Advantage of Windy Weather To Create Beautiful Portraits

How To Take Advantage of Windy Weather To Create Beautiful Portraits

When life serves you lemons, make lemonade. At least that’s what I was always told when I was younger. Now as a professional photographer, I’m sometimes dealt lemons in terms of weather conditions. How do you make lemonade out of less than perfect weather so it benefits your set?

Living in Arizona affords me sunshine and warm temperatures throughout most of the year. As seasons change here in the desert we generally encounter the random windy day from time to time. As professionals we can’t always reschedule paid shoots simply due to less than perfect weather, so we adapt to these situations and make them work to our advantage (or at least we try). 

Having fun with windy weather.

After recently having to reschedule a maternity shoot due to high winds and rain (yeah, it actually rains in the desert sometimes), I was less than thrilled when I learned that high winds with gusts of 50MPH had been forecasted on the date we had rescheduled for.

Having adapted to this situation before, I knew several things that would help make the shoot a success despite a chilly and gusty breeze. 


When it comes to shooting in windy or rainy weather, there really isn’t anything specifically unique about the gear that’s required. Besides a professional weather sealed camera, there are some additional items you may want to bring along:

Sand Bags

Whether you’re shooting with the help of an assistant or not, it’s not fun manning a set of light stands as light modifiers are pushed around by the wind. Something you can (and should) bring along on a windy day are a few sandbags and carabineers. Sandbags add some weight and stability to your lighting set-up, and while not 100 percent wind proof, you’ll be happy you have some extra weight grounding your stands when the wind does decide to pick up.

Alternatively you can attach your bag or camera case to the stand to serve the same purpose if only working with a single light. 

Rocket Blower

When the dust and wind start to pick up the last thing you want to be doing is wiping your front element. Having a rocket blower handy will prevent you from having to blow on the front element to remove dust - a process that for me always leads to unintentionally spitting on my lens. Don’t act like you’ve never done it. 

Hairspray And Mirror

A couple of helpful items to toss into your kit include a bottle of hairspray and a small mirror (for obvious reasons). 


Trees are rare in the desert, but finding some to shoot amongst allowed for a momentary break from the wind.

If you’re aware of windy weather conditions, the location of your set should be taken into consideration. Personally, I avoid parts of the desert with silt beds on windy days as visibility is less than stellar in these locations at those times. 

During this particular shoot, we actually stopped in one of the dusty fields that I typically avoid for a few shots.

Note the blowing dust in the distance.

Some locations may provide natural shelter from the elements. Shooting along side a mountain, hill, or other large structures that can act as wind breaks can provide a little bit of relief when the wind starts to blow. 


You may be used to posing your subjects a certain way. It's normal to get used to posing subject in ways you're familiar with in order to get the desired lighting effect or composition but if the wind kicks up, there's a good chance you'll be forced to reconsider. Posing subjects facing into the wind eliminates a constant battle with hair in the face and can even provide a nice sense of motion. The type created by fans inside studios.  


I’m no stylist but I generally have an idea of how I want a set of images to look. This includes the outfits my subjects wear.

Wind can be tough on hair and wardrobe. This is why it’s so important to be prepared by wearing outfits that will work with the elements (wind).

This free flowing dress moved freely in the wind and the floral headband helped keep the subjects hair out of her face.


Calling it quits before you even snap a photo is a mistake. As with anything in life, your attitude is very important going into a photo shoot. Remain confident otherwise your client will pick up on your attitude and think that their set is somehow less than what you’d normally provide - and that’s not cool. The last thing a paying client wants to hear from you before their shoot is something like “I hope this turns out.” Be prepared and you'll know what you're capable of. 

Dusty Wooddell's picture

Dusty Wooddell is a professional photographer based in the Southwestern United States. Self-proclaimed thinker, opportunity seeker, picky eater, observer of things.

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Great post for those of us in WINDY @ss AZ!!


YES!!! Been loving the wind lately!!