How to take great photos when Mother Nature calls in sick

Above: Image Gina Milicia

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” (Vivian Greene, 2006)

So you’ve found the perfect location, organised models and then at the 11th hour you get a call:

“Hi it’s Mother Nature, I’m sorry but Sunny Day has the flu and can’t make it into work today. I can send Storm as a replacement, Torrential Rain is also available, and Drizzle can be there in five.”

Do you cancel the shoot or does the show go on?

How do you make the most of a shoot when Sunshine and Blue Skies call in sick?

Unless you live in Yuma, Arizona, or Aswan, Egypt chances are you will have a location shoot threatened or canceled due to rain or inclement weather. Sometimes it’s okay to raincheck (see what I did there?) but what should you do in situations when the day and time of a shoot can’t be changed? You know, like when you’re photographing a wedding or event or location portrait shoot?

“If Plan A isn’t working, I have Plan B, Plan C, and even Plan D.”
– Serena Williams

It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan, and when I say “backup plan” I don’t mean screaming a) “rain, rain go away, come another day” or b) curling up again in the fetal position with a 5kg tub of Nutella. I’ve tried both a. and b. Several times. They didn’t work.

The best way to deal with rain is to embrace it, love it and make it part of your day. Rain or bad weather can look beautiful in photos, and if you approach the shoot in the right headspace, you may come away with some amazing images.

Here are my plans B, C, D, E, and F.

Find a cafe, or strip shopping mall to shoot in.

I prefer strip shopping malls where the shops have large awnings or eaves because there are lots of space to shoot long.

Get to know these locations and the owners or managers of the cafes in all the places you regularly shoot in.

Perhaps you can offer them a shout out on your social media or give them a great review and do order something and be mindful of the other guests. I’ve found 99% of cafe owners to be incredibly generous when I’ve needed a location to shoot in. The only time they are reluctant is during peak dinner hours.

Multi level car parks are another great location that offer protection from the elements. Often the upper levels are less crowded, and most have beautiful natural light and fab colour schemes.

Hotel foyers and university campuses are other great locations that have weather protection and provide beautiful backdrops for photo shoots.

And finally, shoot in the rain. There are some great rain protection products available to waterproof your camera ranging from $5-$300 and if you don’t want to spend the bucks a plastic bag (free) or shower cap (99 cents) will also do the trick.

So don’t just wait for the storm to pass, get out there and dance!

Got any other great tips for rainy day locations? I’d love to hear from you.

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Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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