Shooting in the sun isn't easy — for you or your equipment. While you're at risk of heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburn, your camera also needs taking care of. Here are some tips to follow if you're caught in Europe's current heatwave or if you live somewhere hot year-round!
1. Stay in the Shade
Sorry to say it, but the best way to deal with heat is to stay out of it. If you do have to shoot outside, you're best finding shade as much as possible. If you have to go outside of the shade in order to take photographs, then leave anything you aren't using in that shaded area. Return to it as soon as you can, and don't leave any of your equipment standing in the sun. Bring anyone else working on the shoot, particularly your models, into the shade whenever possible as well.
This isn't just to save your camera, but also your hands. You don't want to touch a hot plastic body that has been out in direct sun for a long time!
Natural and permanent shade is the best option, because the ground will be cooler thanks to not being exposed to the sun. If you can't manage that, however, you can ask an assistant to hold a large umbrella or parasol over you and your camera.
When you aren't shooting, keep your camera away and protected in a bag or case to cool it down further (though use your common sense — if the inside of the case is already hot, this obviously won't work).
2. Use a Fan
If you're shooting indoors, it can still get hot. Make sure that you have a fan on set to help cool everything down. Point it directly at where you will stand with your camera for the best results. This simple act can really make a huge difference to how comfortable you are personally, as well as helping to cool the camera down.
3. Take Breaks
Have you ever had your camera overheat on a shoot? Chances are it was while you were utilizing a rapid-fire mode over a long period of time, causing the camera to slowly warm up. If you use your on-camera flas,h this can happen very quickly. Generally speaking, taking a break and allowing it to cool down will solve the issue.
This applies even more when you are shooting in hot weather in the first place. Don't expect to fire rapidly for hours. Take short, effective bursts and then rest. This is good for you and your model too as well as any other crew on set.
4. Turn off the Lights
Anyone who works in a studio environment regularly can attest to how hot it gets in front of lights. In hot weather, it can quickly become unbearable. Keep your lamps off, and only use flash if you absolutely need it. With such bright sun, natural light may be more effective, even in an indoor space. Use reflectors for fill-in light rather than a flashgun.
If you do need to use studio lights, refer back to step four and take regular breaks. If you can't comfortably hold your hand within a few inches of the bulb, then it's definitely time to take a break!
5. Upgrade Your Cards
Writing information to memory is one of the most arduous tasks your camera has to do. This can cause internal heat to build quickly (which is why you might not be able to press the trigger or see error messages). If you use a faster, newer memory card, your camera won't build up as much internal heat while you take photographs. This also make your camera work faster in the first place, so it's a good idea no matter what.
6. Invest in Cold Gel Packs or a Cooler
Wrap up your camera in a towel, and within the folds of that towel, place cold gel packs. This stops your camera from getting wet in case the gel packs do, but will also help to cool it down. You could also place your camera into a cooler, though don't fill it with ice. You don't want to cool your camera down too much or too fast, as this could result in adverse effects!
7. Use Two Bodies
If you're really suffering (maybe it's the hottest day of the year in Death Valley), then use a backup. Rotate two camera bodies, so that neither of them have to work for very long. You can switch them out as soon as you start to see errors, but it's wise to start swapping even before that point. This reduces the risk of permanent damage.
How are you protecting your camera in the heat? If you don't have an answer, maybe it's time to think about taking precautions. Having a camera fail midway through a photoshoot is nobody's idea of a good time!