One of the biggest concerns for prospective clients about booking a natural light photo shoot is the weather, or rather the lack of certainty that it will be “perfect”. There are indeed no guarantees when if comes to the forecast, but the GREAT thing is, each type of weather can offer its own unique advantages when being photographed outdoors…
When clients book with me, I make it clear that in the event where the weather conditions made shooting impossible, if an alternative date can’t be found, their booking fee will be refunded, plain and simple. However, only extreme conditions, such as heavy rain, render shooting impossible...in all other cases, clear or overcast, great images can always be captured, so “fear of bad weather” simply shouldn’t be a factor in going ahead.
OVERCAST for CLEAR PORTRAITS
Just because you can’t see the sun, doesn’t mean it’s not there doing its job. Bright overcast skies are fantastic for portraiture, with the clouds acting like big reflectors which get the light everywhere. This eradicates shadows, meaning that expressions are clear, and, when taking candid shots of couples or groups, no one is casting shade on anyone else, so posing can be a lot more relaxed and flexible. Contrarily, when there are no clouds, there’s a defined directly the light is coming from, so I have do direct people around that, which can be far more restrictive.
HARD LIGHT for CONTRAST
When the sun is bright in a clear sky, the light, contrary to the above, is going to be very directional. Whilst, as I’ve said, this will dictate the side certain photos are shot from (you’ll certainly require more direction from the photographer), a great thing about hard light is the contrasts it produces by the strong shadows cast both on you, the subject, and on the ground below you, leading to extremely well-defined images. October is the best month for this type of light, with the sun’s angle really optimal for creating dramatic shadows and pools of light through trees etc.
LOW LIGHT for MOOD
Early morning photo shoots are always my default recommendation, partly because of the intimacy offered by the reduced amount of passersby etc. After suggesting this, I’ll often receive emails of concern about the lack of light at those hours and hence the visibility for photographs. This is never an issue for a photographer with a professional camera and lenses designed to work in such conditions. Great effects are achievable when the sun is so low, such as silhouettes, which are perfect for highlighting strong imagery, such as a couple embracing. If you choose an early morning shoot, because the light tends to change so quickly, you’ll often have the benefit of low, intimate light to start begin, and then clearer shooting conditions as the shoot progresses and the sun rises.
RAIN for PARIS :)
Although heavy rain, for practical reasons, is cause to cancel a shoot, if it’s just a case of very light rain of drizzle, we’d go ahead, and quite rightly so! Having lived in Paris for many years, I’ve never quite understood the cliché that it’s always raining here, as it’s simply not the case. However, I am in full agreement with the fact that rain and Paris go together extremely well visually. Background rain can help give both the background and foreground of a photo a burred atmospheric look, which places even more emphasis on you, the subject. If there is ever a chance that it will rain during our photo session, I’ll advise clients to bring a neutrally coloured umbrella (ideally black) which they can be photographed with in case of rain. An umbrella itself, whether folded or opened, is a great versatile prop. As it’s something that can be shared by a couple, it can create a very defined outline bringing two people together visually.
BLACK AND WHITE for FORGET ABOUT THE WEATHER
For both PARIS PHOTO SHOOTS and PORTRAITS I always provide, as a bare minimum, both a colour and a black and white version of each photograph, essentially doubling the submitted image count. I’ve found this really important for outdoor photo sessions because, rain or shine, certain images will be better with the focus on the colours brought out by the weather and certain will work better with the focus more on the contrast and composition. As you’ll see from my lifestyle photography portfolio, I shoot in all kinds of conditions; I’d say that 50% of the time a lifestyle photo will be even better in black and white, hence having both a black and white edit of every photo, you are getting the best of both worlds.
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