Depending on the climate you live in there are many different weather possibilities to be prepared for when shooting an outdoor wedding or even if you want to get great outdoor portraits after an indoor wedding. You could have bright sun, clouds, fog, rain, snow, extreme heat and/or humidity, extreme cold, or wind; any number of conditions that could impact your photography.
The creative photographer finds ways around these situations or discovers ways to use them as an advantage. Here are some ideas for success:
The best thing you can do is to keep an eye on the forecast leading up to the wedding and to communicate with your client. Do not scare them with worst-case-scenarios but do be truthful about what you need to do a great job. If you can visit the venue ahead of time, or at least a few minutes early, you can make a plan for the locations that are best for the type of weather you are dealing with.
If I have a bright sunny day for a wedding, the first thing I want to know is the time of day I’ll be taking photos. If the sun is low in the sky, I have options. One is shooting with the sun behind my subjects. This keeps shadows off their faces. Another option is to find a building, tree, or other large object that allows me to put my subject into shade. Another option, if the sun is directly overhead and I can’t position my subject in shade or with their back to the sun, is to use a fill flash. A speedlight aimed directly at the subject at the right intensity will fill in some of the shadows and make everyone look a little better.
If I have a cloudy day, I give myself a high-five because I can shoot just about anywhere, at any time and get soft, even light. If the clouds have shape and texture, or if it is a partly cloudy day, including some of the sky in shots can make for a cool effect, especially if I bring out more of the detail and color in post. Fog is similar to clouds but you need to be careful using your flash, as thick fog can be reflective and make your images hazy.
No one wants rain on their wedding day. If there is a chance of rain, it is extra helpful to have a backup plan for your portrait shots. I usually have an indoor spot (or few spots) in mind where I can get a group of people together. I will bring some studio lights and umbrellas, just in case the space is too dark. Speedlights will also work in this situation, either with umbrellas or bounced off of the ceiling. I like to have at least two lights with me so I can have more even light, lower power settings, and faster recycle times. Sometimes, if your clients are brave enough you can get them out in the rain under an umbrella. Backlighting them allows you to light up their silhouettes and any rain that is falling around them.
When it’s really hot out or really cold out I try to limit the amount of time my clients are outside. Yes, I want to get great photos at every wedding. But I also want to make sure my clients are having the best day of their lives too. It’s a balance. This is another case where preparation is key. If you know ahead of time exactly what shots you want to get and where you want to take them, it is much easier to convince your client to step outside for 10 or 15 minutes without feeling like they are being tortured.
Wind is just plain annoying. I can typically find a side of a building that shelters from the wind. If nothing is available outside, this is another time when it’s helpful to have a lighting setup that you can bring inside. Women take much longer to photograph on a windy day when they are trying to control hair that just won’t stay put.