Are you the type of photographer that runs indoors at the first sign of rain, or the type that grabs your camera and jumps in the puddles? If you’re not already the latter you will be dying for precipitation to get rain pictures!
We’ve got tips to protect your camera and take creative rainy day shots, everything a newcomer to rain photography might need! Like any form of photography, practice makes perfect. The more you get out in the rain, the more creative your shots become. Try pushing your limits and try something new. Most importantly, having subjects willing to get wet makes all the difference in the number of new things you can try with rain pictures!
Can you take pictures in the rain?
The short answer is yes. Rain pictures can be spectacular, moody, lighthearted, and eye-catching. Not many photographers venture out in the rain, so your images are likely to catch many client’s eyes. It’s a well known “secret” in photography circles that overcast days are much more desirable for photographing people. The lighting is softer than sunny days, and you’re not limited by location the way you might be on sunny days. You can have your subject stand underneath the branches of a tree or in the middle of an open field and get equally well-lit photos on overcast or rainy days.
How do I protect my camera in the rain?
Many if not most DSLR cameras won’t be harmed if gets a little wet. A teensy bit of water on the outside of your camera is an easy price to pay for stunning rain pictures. Just don’t get careless with your camera. A light drizzle for a short period of time is fine, but don’t expose your camera for long periods of time to rain. Be extra careful to tuck your camera away at the first sign of a downpour. That amount of water can quickly get inside your camera to ruin the circuitry inside. Some of the higher end DSLRs have special weather-proof coating, but with a camera that expensive: why risk exposing it to rain? For one week’s worth of coffees you can purchase a rain cover for your camera. Alternatively, bring an umbrella when going out in the rain with your camera! Both of these options are much less expensive than replacing your camera body or lens. And don’t forget a raincoat and boots! The last thing you want is for your rainy day excursion to be cut short because you’re wet and miserable.
How do you take portraits in the rain?
You can get SO creative with rain photos of your clients! You might already be picturing a few ideas in your mind but it’s always good to check you’re getting the photography basics right first in the rain. After all, you don’t want the perfect shot of your child jumping into a puddle to get ruined because you didn’t have the right ISO set.
Some basic settings to get started with when shooting rain pictures: start with a wide open aperture. Blurring out the background will be optimal to accentuate the falling rain and separate it from your backdrop. Your ISO should be high enough to light your scene without inviting too much grain (try somewhere around 800 to start). Shutter speed settings will vary based on the time of day and amount of ambient light, try somewhere around 1/200s. This is the lowest you should go with young children who move around a lot, as you will otherwise get blurry photos. However you can slow your shutter speed if working with adults who can stand still.
Mastering your exposure in camera regardless of the lighting condition is an important and necessary skill to have as a photographer. What’s equally important is recognizing where the light on your subject or scene is coming from. One portrait of your subject facing in two different directions while standing in the same spot on an overcast day can give you vastly different results in camera. So always turn your subject to face the direction where the most light is coming from. This is still important to get beautiful rain pictures.
10 Tips for rainy day photography
A quick summary of some already mentioned tips plus a couple of new bonus tips for improving your rain pictures.
- Protect your camera: use an umbrella or rain cover for your camera
- Choose one lens: don’t switch lenses until you can dry everything off indoors
- Protect yourself: dress warmly and use water resistant clothing on your body and feet
- Look for the light: place your subject so they are facing the light
- Exposure triangle: learn how to adjust all three settings to photograph all lighting conditions
- Communicate with clients: discuss their comfort levels with getting wet before the shoot
- Use the puddles: not only for jumping into but for interesting reflections
- Freeze the rain: increase your shutter speed to 1/500+ to freeze raindrops in midair
- Bring in a flash: get creative with your flash by back-lighting your subjects
- Use your environment: try shooting through a window covered in raindrops for an artsy look
- BONUS: always keep a dry chemise cloth on your person in case you need to try your lens
The sky’s the limit
Once you master exposure and finding the light, you can let your creative brain loose! There are so many creative poses and games you can get your clients to try for stunning rain pictures. From huddling close together under colorful umbrellas to stay warm, to splashing in puddles. Try to encourage your client to let loose in rain photos. Imagine the look of pure joy and shock of your client feeling the rain trickle down their neck for the first time in ages. Both adults and children can let loose and act like kids while they’re splashing in the puddles. A couple can give you a steamy kiss in the pouring rain, and a senior student can spin and dance and be carefree again in the rain. Let your imagination and inner child guide you to some spectacular rain photos!