There are a few things that top the list of struggles for photographers. For instance, portrait subjects who find it hard to be comfortable in front of the lens, or lighting that just won’t cooperate no matter how you try to modify it. But nothing is so ubiquitous as the weather. It causes all kinds of problems, from rained out trips to the high humidity that results in frizzy hair.
So how do we photographers deal with the weather? Well, the first step is planning around it. It’s always a good idea to check weather forecasts and plan our photography trips accordingly, choosing days when we think the weather will be just what we need to complement our photographs.
It’s not just gear choices you’ll need to think about where weather is concerned, either. Also think about the types of photographs you’ll be taking. Some photographs need sunshine, others work better when taken on diffuse, cloudy days, and sometimes the drama of storm clouds is just what you need to enhance a landscape.
But sometimes, planning around weather doesn’t always work. Sometimes, the big day is immovable, regardless of your schedule. Perhaps a location you’ve always wanted to photograph is only open on a certain day, or perhaps you’re traveling to a distant locale, and you’ve had to plan the trip months in advance. Sometimes it’s something like a wedding, which the bride and groom have been planning for a long time. The show must go on, regardless of what the weather is doing!
In these instances, there’s no choice but to pack accordingly. Consider your setting and the types of photographs you’ll want to be taking. That way, you can pick and choose the right gear. Will you need weather shielding for cameras and lenses? Or combs to help tame windblown hair? Check the forecasts and make sure you’re ready for whatever the weather can throw at you.
And what happens when all of your careful planning is in vain? Sometimes, no matter what the forecasts say, the weather does what it wants to do. Meteorologists promise sunshine, but cloudbursts come along to rain on your shoot. The weather was supposed to be balmy and breezy, but the day turned out hot and still instead, and now everyone on location is sweating and uncomfortable. No matter how many times you’ve checked the forecast or how much you’ve prepared, the weather is notorious for doing something other than what it’s supposed to be doing.
This is why photography requires so much creativity and flexibility. No matter what you think the weather may do, always pack a little something extra in case it does the opposite. If you’re expecting cloudy, but it turns out sunny, it’s handy to have neutral density filters on hand. And if you’re expecting sunshine but it rains, you’ll be glad you packed protective gear for your camera and lenses. And, be prepared to shift your mindset. This is perhaps the most important part. It’s easy to get caught up in expectations of what might be. You’ll develop all these preconceived notions of how the photographs should turn out under the conditions you were hoping for. That’s where creativity comes in. When the weather doesn’t deliver, you’ll need to be creative enough to work with what you’ve got.