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How to Photograph a Wedding When It Rains

Photograph a Wedding When It Rains

You and your couple have the most thought-out, brilliant plan for their wedding day, but what if Mother Nature has other plans and it starts to rain?  While you could curse your luck (and the weather forecaster that did you wrong), there’s no point in wasting energy on any of that! Instead, seize the day (and an umbrella) and get to work with these tips and tricks you can follow to take amazing photos and memories even in the rain.

Prepare for How to Photograph a Wedding When It Rains

Photograph a Wedding When It Rains
Image by @ideal_imaging_photography

Don’t be terrified of shooting weddings on rainy days. The fear of equipment damage, the dreary lighting conditions, and the stress of bad weather might make you nervous, but it’s best to stay positive and carry on like you would on any other day, albeit with some precautions in place. Read our blog and follow these tips to get the best out of your camera and your clients even if you have to photograph a wedding when it rains.

1. Revise the Wedding Photography Timeline With Your Couple

If rain is in the forecast for the wedding day, it’s important to take a look at the timeline and shot list you have created with the couple and brainstorm any changes that might be needed due to weather. If you have time, you can visit the wedding venue and take a look at any locations on-site that might be under cover and protected from rain. You can also talk with the wedding coordinator or venue coordinator and see if they have suggestions for areas on the property where you can photograph in inclement weather.

The most important thing to remember is that your clients may be stressing as much as you are! When you are discussing options with them, come to them with ideas already in place and remind them that their photographs in the rain will be amazing and beautiful and unique because you will work with the weather, not against it. You can even talk up the fact that they will have dramatic cloudy skies in their photos!

Photograph a Wedding When It Rains
Image by @jorgesantiagophoto

When you reach out to your couple with a new game plan, you can also offer them tips to help them prepare like have umbrellas handy and a hair and makeup artist on standby for touch ups. Also, suggest they have an alternate pair of shoes in case there is water or mud. Maybe they can even have some fun water-proof boots to show off! They might have their own ideas about shooting in the rain, so this is a chance for you to collaborate and listen as well.  If they already have a plan in mind, discuss what additional equipment you may need to perfectly capture their vision.

2. Look for Areas of Cover

Image by @rachaelschirano

If you’re at the venue and it’s definitely raining, look for places on site that will allow you to capture some amazing shots while also keeping you – and your clients – dry. If you are shooting outdoors during a rainy day, look for awnings, porches, tree cover, and umbrellas! Finding cover is a must if you’re going to photograph a wedding when it rains.

3. Use Umbrellas as Props and Reflectors

Photograph a Wedding When It Rains
Image by @michael_mannphotography

Umbrellas not only make for a great addition to the photos as props, but are also useful for kicking light back down on your couples (and keeping them dry!). You could keep an umbrella that works for your pictures in your car at all times – that way if it rains, you’re always prepared!

Pro tip: Avoid the ones with ugly colors, huge patterns or advertising on it.

4. Keep Plastic Bags Handy to Photograph a Wedding When it Rains

While most camera bodies, lenses and flashes are weather-sealed, you can never be too safe. A practical and inexpensive tip if you have no other choice is to use a plastic grocery bag and rubber bands to protect your gear from the rain. You can also keep gallon sized Ziploc bags in your bag. These can be placed over your flashes when you need to use them on a rainy day. But if you live in an area where rain is a frequent occurrence, think about investing in waterproof camera casings. You can find these on websites that sell camera gear like B&H.

5. Don’t Shoot Wide Open

Wedding photographers shoot most wedding photos with wide open apertures. If you are going to photograph a wedding when it rains, in order to capture the most  drops, you’ll need more depth of field. So don’t be afraid to shoot at for example f5.6 or f8.0 or higher to open up your depth of field a bit more. Just make sure your shutter speed doesn’t end up too slow to hand hold, or if it does, bump the ISO up.

6. Increase the ISO

bridal party walking in rain with umbrellas
Image by @jelgerandtanja

Speaking of ISO, rain typically means dark clouds. Offset those clouds by boosting your ISO. You might be used to shooting photos outside at ISO 200, but if you are planning to photograph a wedding when it rains, don’t hesitate to increase your ISO. Some of the latest cameras have fantastic ISO capability that do not degrade the photo with noise.

7. Back-Light the Rain Drops

couple under an umbrella with rain all around them
Image by @lovebyjoemac

The best way to get wow images when you photograph a wedding when it rains is to get the raindrops to show up in a picture is to backlight them with a flash or off camera light. If you don’t have one of these (or don’t want them to get wet) find a strong light source behind your couple – like a spotlight or even car headlights.

Once you have your backlight, have the couple stand under an umbrella in the rain and (if you’re using one) the flash can be covered by their umbrella, but still out of sight to you from where you are shooting. Then when you take the photos, the rain drops will be highlighted and stand out as little bright spots on your photos as light passes through water.

couple holding hands in snow
Image by @photography_by_orlando

Try experimenting with shutter speed here to change the way the rain shows up. Most couples are wowed when they see the images of them, in the rain, and the illuminated or glowing droplets. Pro Tip: this works for snow too!

8. Watch Your Shutter Speed

Speaking of shutter speed, if you are not using a flash or off-camera light to freeze the falling raindrops, then make sure you choose a shutter speed that is fast enough to catch them. That will most likely be 1/500th of a second or faster.

9. Find Reflections on Wet Surfaces

Use puddles to your advantage by finding interesting reflections that you can incorporate into your photos.Just beware – before you send your clients out into the rain for reflection photos, be sure to scout ahead and have a plan to minimize the time outdoors, especially if it is still raining! 

10. Rain Brings Out Great Colors in Photos

One of the most wonderful things about shooting in the rain is how the photos come out with beautiful, saturated colors. The greens are greener, blues are even deeper and the wet driveway of the venue, which usually wouldn’t stand out, also looks amazing

11. Make Indoor Photography Work for You

couple standing against wall with paint peeling
Image by @erinm_photography

If the rain is coming down too hard, it might be best to take your session indoors. Scouting the location prior to your event will help you know the layout better so you can plan for this kind of challenge.

Also if you have a relationship with a wedding venue, or a wedding coordinator at the venue, you can call ahead and do a walk through with them to find all the best spots! Moving indoors will hopefully allow you to  have backup options to create impressive imagery regardless of the weather.

When shooting indoors, be mindful of the color temperature of the lighting – mixing light can be disastrous for white balance! Consider using off camera lighting to make dramatic indoor images. We have a blog post that shows you how!

12. Include Rain as a Part of Your Couple’s Wedding Story

couple with stormy sky in black and white
Image by @ideal_imaging_photography

Don’t try to tell a different story of the wedding day by not including photos of the rain. You are there so you have to photograph the wedding when it rains. Period. Embrace the weather and enjoy it. Also, you are most likely to find some moments when the rain stops. Let the couple know in advance that that’s , when this happens, it’s the time they need to be on their A-game and move fast!

Try to make it a fun experience for them. If they’ve agreed to let you capture their most special moments together, it’s very likely that they are counting on you to show them a silver lining amongst the gray clouds. Also, don’t be disappointed if they decide they do not want to go out into the rain for photos. Sometimes the dress is too expensive or the clients just don’t want to get wet, no matter how great the photos will be. Support their decision if this is the case.

13. Watch for Epic Sunsets During Cloudy Days

couple on rock ledge at sunset
Image by @hummelphoto

Landscape photographers can attest to the fact that post-rain clouds are breathtaking. They offer a dark and hauntingly beautiful aesthetic that serves as a beautiful background to wedding day photos. If the day is rainy, keep an eye on the outside as the day approaches sunset. The clouds could part and reveal something amazing.

14. Relax and Reassure Your Couple

The bride and groom are going to be looking to you for reassurance. Even if they agreed to go outside in the rain for photos, it still is going to be uncomfortable…and wet! So shoot quickly, efficiently, and assure them the whole time with your manner and body language that the photos are going to be awesome!  Keep it positive and make sure they understand you are down to handle whatever mother nature throws at you. 

Conquer the Weather

couple standing under umbrella in forest
Image by @erinm_photography

We hope these tips will help you plan and prepare for how to photograph a wedding when it rains. As long as you’re prepared, trust that this will be an opportunity to create some breathtakingly gorgeous images. Have some poses and scenes planned out in your head already. Your couple will appreciate your preparedness and thank you when they see how beautiful images in the rain turn out. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Just carry a raincoat, an aesthetically pleasing and functional umbrella, and be ready with a positive attitude .

For more great tips on our blog, check out this post on preparing your couples for a pre-wedding shoot here…and even more tips for photography lighting during inclement weather!

At ShootDotEdit we provide professional photo editing services to wedding photographers but we also love helping you with tips to grow your business. We hope our tips and tricks help you improve your photography skills!

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