Minneapolis Portrait Photographer — How to prepare for amazing portraits in bad weather

snowstorms and rain clouds and humidity, oh my! Learn why a bad forecast doesn't necessarily mean the sky is falling on your photography plans. 

Minneapolis Senior Photography

Remember when you were a kid, and the first thing you did during a downpour was to throw on your rubber rain boots and run full speed out the back door?

And now? Now we run to the TV and binge watch Netflix. What happened to us as adults (and teenagers) to make us so painfully boring?

As a photographer, I appreciate when my gear stays dry and doesn't overheat, or fog up, or when the batteries don't drain in 10 minutes from the cold. But give me the opportunity to get an amazing photo, like a really great one, I'll do whatever it takes, in whatever (safe) conditions. Because that moment is worth it.

Of course, my definition of tolerable weather may be different than yours as far as a photo session. But none of us can control the weather. So, with a bit of an open mind, take a look at some of the ways you can prepare for your photo shoot, even if the rain won't go away. 

Here are 5 tips for how to prep for a "bad weather" photoshoot

1. Have flexible expectations

Don't get down about not being able to dance in the sunshine when you should be dancing in the rain. The number one thing you can do to ensure an incredible photo session experience is to be open to whatever the day throws at you (within reason). So often in life, we let our own expectations dampen our experiences. This doesn't have to be one of those times. 

During an engagement session I was photographing, a big storm rolled in suddenly. There was sunshine one minute, then darkness and heavy wind the next. But instead of calling it quits, we went with it, and it was awesome.

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2. Have a backup plan you're excited about

If outdoors are not an option, head indoors. But don't go just anywhere. Choose a place you're excited about. My studio is a great options, but there are tons of other spaces to choose from. Even if we have a grand outdoor plan, I will still have a backup location ready to go, just in case.

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3. Dance in the rain

Or jump in puddles...whatever. The point is, joy does not melt in water, or snow, or heat, or any weather. And, really, how many of your friends are going to get fun rainy senior portraits or engagement photos? The whole point of hiring a boutique portrait photographer is to get a boutique portrait experience, something that can't be easily duplicated. 

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4. Dress for success

Here is where most people get tripped up in preparing for their portrait session. Say you've got your outfits all set for your warm summer session (sundress, shorts, tanks, etc.). But this is Minnesota, where winter(ish) weather can strike at any time, and your August session weather forecast looks more like November. Don't freak out. Because this is the perfect opportunity to bust out that cute jacket and that sweet pair of skinny jeans you love but haven't worn lately because it's been 90 degrees since April. Or perhaps there's a little rain on the way. Umbrellas are back in style (aren't they always) and I usually have a photogenic one on hand.

No matter what, make sure you're comfortable in whatever you're wearing for the session. Discomfort shows, there's just no way around it.

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5. Make what your mother (nature) didn't give you

This is where I get to be the photographer version of a (benevolent) mad scientist. If the sun isn't shining, we'll bring our own. If it's down-pouring, we'll find an overhead shelter or duck under some thick tree branches and keep you dry while still getting a green, nature-filled backdrop (not too mention those creamy colors you get with a wet landscape). One of the many benefits of hiring an experienced, adventurous photographer is that I've probably already shot in most weather conditions and have tons of tricks up my sleeve to make most circumstances work for you and not against you.

Minneapolis Engagement Photography


But what about those times when you just can't make it work? Yes, there are weather conditions that even I won't photograph in. Which begs the question:

When is it ok to reschedule a photoshoot?

1. The 24 Hour rule

Generally, I advise clients not to look at the forecast until two days before a session. Why? Because no one likes a rollercoaster they didn't volunteer to ride. That's exactly what it will feel like looking at the weather prediction change from "garden of eden" to "armageddon" five times a day, every day, for two weeks. Once we're inside the 24 hour window, the hourly forecast gets a lot more accurate, and we can see if that "chance of rain" has any chance of raining on our parade.

2. Severe weather is for nature photographers

We have no business taking portraits in a lightning storm. If there is a severe weather alert, watch, or warning for the area where we're photographing, I'm going to reschedule it or move it inside. So there's no need to tell me about your irrational fear of getting struck by lighting. Because it's not irrational, it's common sense.

3. When the wind-blown look isn't your thing

Sometimes it's not about what's coming down from the clouds. While a little breeze is great for a hair flip or that flowing dress, it's not great in strong, frequent doses. My priority is for you to look and feel your best while making pictures that convey your personality and passions. If the wind is going to blow that dream away, let's set a different date or put some brick walls and a roof between us and the big bad wind.

4. The goldilocks principle

Sometimes those warm summer days are actually miserably hot, humid, people-melting days. Not to mention, the camera doesn't love it either. If it's too hot for your professional makeup not to drip off your face, it's time for a "rain" check (as in, let's reschedule and hope it rains soon). Usually, my magic heat index number is 90 degrees (that's how hot it feels given the humidity, not the actual air temp), at which point I suggest we either reschedule or head indoors. This is also why I recommend scheduling outdoor summer sessions in the morning or evening.

On the other hand, we are the North Star State, and that means north star weather. I generally will photograph people outdoors in anything 20 degrees or above. But if the wind chill is below 15 degrees, that makes everyone (and the camera) pretty miserable. 

Of course, it's totally fine to split your photo session between outdoors and indoors. But keep in mind, at certain temperatures and humidity levels, going in and out means I need to pack my camera gear during the transition to avoid getting condensation on the lenses and camera sensor. So expect a little extra time to be eaten up by "travel."

Kelsey (Class of 2018) poses on a bridge during one of the few moments the wind wasn't howling. We brought along an off-camera light, and got away just before the rain started falling.

Kelsey (Class of 2018) poses on a bridge during one of the few moments the wind wasn't howling. We brought along an off-camera light, and got away just before the rain started falling.


I hope this puts your mind at ease and maybe even gets your wheels turning about how you can incorporate our fickle midwest weather to your portrait session. Whether your approaching your senior year of high school, are getting engaged, or just want some stellar photos of yourself, I bet we can make some magical pictures together.

If you haven't already, leave me a note, and we can talk about getting back into those rain boots and getting it on camera.