“What if it rains on my photo session day?” may just be the most asked question I’ve been getting this summer. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve been experiencing the rain in July alongside me. It’s been raining pretty much every other day. Sometimes for days on end. So what happens when you have a session planned and it’s scheduled to rain?
I try to always put my clients first ahead of my own needs. If this means that I am working nonstop sunrise to sunset and coordinating with seven different families at a time to dodge the rain, I’ll do so. This is often why I disappear for a week or so online or take a while to respond to emails. My current week’s schedule is my priority to ensure that we figure out a date that works. Every week I see about 3-7 families. When it rains 50% of the time, trying to fit 3 families into 4 sunny days is NOT easy. I ask for some grace as I try to navigate this crazy weather and I just plead that everyone understand that they aren’t the only family I’m trying to work with.
Flexibility is the name of the game. I ask that you don’t book me if you’re inflexible. If the weather works, out, FABULOUS. However, I cannot guarantee the weather.
Going forward into the fall which is my busy period and also rainy season, I now have a rain policy. I leave 2 dates per week as raindates (2 out of 5 dates) or reschedules or newborns. This is what I’ve always done. I will leave in addition 4 full rain dates the first week of November as backup overflow raindates. If I don’t need these for October families, I’ll open them for bookings.
With COVID still here and the Delta variant threatening to derail our return to the norm plans, I am being overly cautious and rescheduling if your family is sick. Please let me know as soon as you can if you are sick and experiencing what you might think is COVID symptoms and get tested. I’ll figure out a reschedule date for you the following week if your results are negative, and in at least 4 weeks if you are positive and you still would like a session. I see so many families each week that I would be devastated if I bring an illness to another household so please, please be upfront with me. I’ll make a reschedule date work!!
If it rains, that doesn’t mean we can do an indoor newborn session. Right now, my indoor work is limited and you can read more HERE. If you want an indoor newborn session, please reach out to another photographer.
So that’s why I ask all families and families of newborns to be as upfront about any schedule restrictions you might have. Oftentimes when scheduling newborns I’m told there are no restrictions, but once the baby comes (and I schedule to see them around the 2-5 week mark) all of the sudden restrictions come to light.
These are some tips to help you plan ahead:
- Consider if your family might want to drop by 2 weeks after you welcome your baby. If you think this sounds like your family, schedule their visit around our session. Keep them occupied during the session if the schedules collide.
- Check your due date and any toddler related activities you might have lined up (school, daycare, camp) and inform me ahead of time so we can get you a Tuesday or Thursday to avoid clashing with their activities.
- Plan ahead with cleaning. If you have a cleaning person come every Tuesday just make sure they don’t surprise you with a change of date or move your cleaning up a few days to ensure they can clean your place.
- Plan ahead with ordering outfits. Sometimes there are shipping delays. Sometimes something looks great on the supermodel and not so great on you. Have options.
- Postpartum outfit tips: you’ll likely still look as you did when pregnant or close to it. Find loosely draping clothing that you find flattering when you’re at 5-8 months and those will fit fabulously postpartum. Every body is different, but don’t expect to fit back into your jeans 3 weeks after giving birth. Start planning your outfit before you meet baby. I have lots of tips on outfits HERE and HERE.
- Decide on your colour scheme based on your house or what looks good on mom at least 3 weeks before you’re due. Mom will be the hardest one to dress so outfits should be tailored to mom. I don’t believe in gender-normed colours. Navy is a perfectly beautiful colour for a baby girl if you love navy blue. There’s no need to drench the family in pink unless your whole family looks great in pink.
- Have a look at my Client Closet. When you book you’ll also get access to a styling tool.
- If your partner is heading back to work just let them know about the session so they can block their calendars. This way things won’t ‘pop up’ last minute. If they know how important this is to you, they’ll meet your request. Inform them that baby may have acne or issues on the scheduled session day so flexibility may be needed.
It’s all about communication. Communicate with me, your family and your partner. We’ll figure it out together! Without information, I cannot plan.
In the past when I could photograph newborns indoors/midday I had a lot more flexibility. But now everyone is outdoors and needs good lighting times. Many times I am happy to be accommodating but I just wanted to share what it’s like on the other side as I think people sometimes forget what I’m trying to juggle. I am trying to juggle the weather, rescheduling for sick toddlers, sick newborns, newborns with baby acne, Newborns that come 3 weeks early or 2 weeks late, etc. Everyone thinks it’s just them making the request, when in fact it’s about 20% of my sessions this year. Yes, it’s a lot. And then I have the rain for 30% of my sessions. So 50% of my sessions from June-July were being affected by reschedules.
If it’s truly an emergency, please let me know. I will always do my best. I am forever thankful that so many of you have chosen me to document your life’s milestones, truly!! But I just need to be notified upfront about scheduling issues.
And because most people want a sunset, and there are only so many sunsets to go around, if your sunset is rained out and the rain date for the week is taken, I just ask you be flexible if you’re booking me that you be OK with a sunrise. I haven’t had to do this more than twice this summer, but July tends to be dry and October wet… so I’m thinking October may potentially be drenched.
Do not book me if you’re not flexible.
Rain overflow week in November
October rain dates will also have additional rain dates in early November. November 1-4 have been blocked off as raindates for October. If I don’t end up needing them, I’ll potentially open them up. Or likely just use them to catch up on edits and/or sleep. These dates are in addition to the 1-2 dates I leave open each week for reschedules.
When I start the weather watch
There’s absolutely no point checking the weather 2 weeks in advance and asking me for a raindate. I won’t accommodate this request so if you know this is you, please don’t book me. Weather forecasts are notoriously inaccurate more than 1-2 days in advance. The only exception is if there’s a hurricane coming through town. That can usually be predicted a couple of days in advance and then we can start to reschedule.
I check the weather about 4 days in advance for a first pass. If there looks to be rain on the horizon (meaning over 40%) then I start to keep an eye on those dates. If 2-3 days before it still looks to be over 40% I start to reach out to families to see how flexible they are. Mind you, if it says rain for sunrise, I’m not going to reach out to my sunset session and vice versa. Please check the hourly forecast, not the daily forecast. Many times families will freak out with a 40% chance of rain on their day and not realize the rain is early morning or midday and their session is sunset. And I do not reschedule for 20% chance of rain. Yes, this is often requested. And no I don’t reschedule if it’s cloudy. If you want ‘perfect sunny skies’ please book another photographer skilled at photoshop or head to California.
If you want to try and learn to gauge the weather accuracy, start watching the forecast every day. See how accurate it is. You’ll find out soon that the weather app is about a 50/50 chance of being correct on rainy days.
I will say that not all overcast days have texture to the clouds. My style of photography is very natural and I just merely gently enhance what is there in real life. Nothing more. No fancy photoshop sky swaps. No fake sun flares.
That’s why I rely on the radar. On the day of your session, I keep an eye on the weather system that’s approaching. I track its trajectory and size. Oftentimes I can see a rain cloud coming that isn’t on the forecast, or see that it won’t be raining even though the forecast calls for rain. If you want to start doing this to learn and give yourself peace of mind, please do so!
Why I ask you to be as flexible as possible
The radar is why I ask you to be flexible on your shoot day. Oftentimes people ask me exactly what time do we start our session. Well, there are a tonne of factors. Will it be overcast, or clear skies? Is there a weather system moving in? 75% of the time I can say it’s safe to start 70 minutes before sunset so we have 10 minutes of dusk to see if maybe we’ll get a nice sunset. The rest of the time, I might ask to move the session up 20 minutes because it’s overcast.
Last week I saw a bad storm pop onto the radar the day before the session. I started things in motion. I asked the mom to try and get the family out the door an hour early. She was amazing and rallied the troops. On my way out the door, a rain cloud materialized on the radar on top of me. It started pouring rain. Everything was drenched. Thankfully it was a small rain cloud. I was going to call the mom but I was driving. I was crossing my fingers and toes as I knew her parents were only in town for this week and we couldn’t reschedule. Eventually, I drove out of the rain area. When I got to our meeting spot and it was drizzling. We started our session and 8 minutes later the drizzles ended and we had a great session.
After the shoot, I got back into my car. The skies turned an ominous shade of black and then the lightning and thunder show began. Sheets of rain came down not 10 minutes after we wrapped our session. If the mom hadn’t been flexible, we would have been rained out.
Location affects start time
If you choose a heavily wooded area then I would need to move the start time up again. This is why I can’t tell you a start time until you finalize your location. If it’s an open area (like water or a field) I need to start as late as possible and head into dusk as I’m fighting harsh light with nothing to filter the light. If it’s heavily wooded, I have the opposite issue with dark shadows and the sun not being able to penetrate the canopy to light you. You can read more about light here in this Blog post.
Why reschedule times might be sunrise sessions
Most families want a sunset time. Rain tends to come at sunset or sunrise because of temperature changes. There are only 7 sunsets per week. I have weddings almost every weekend until mid-November so I am only booking weekday sessions this fall. There are only so many sunsets.
How to read the weather app
You can’t just look at the daily weather. You have to drill down and check hourly. Even then it’s unreliable. You have to read the radar. It takes practice. I have been doing it almost every day for 10 years. Sometimes I’m wrong, just as a weather forecast might be, but I’m often not wrong. I will reach out when I feel there is a high enough percentage chance that rain might ruin our session. If you want to reach out 2 days before our session to get a read on the weather, please do! But don’t ask to book a backup rain date a week or month in advance. I don’t book two dates for every session. If you would like to book two dates, by all means!!!
Sometimes the ground is wet
Morning has dew. If it rained a few hours prior, the ground may be wet. If you are a family that has to have everything perfect, please book another photographer or book a studio session.
If you’ve read this far, I applaud you. Thank you for respecting me enough to slog through this long article. I am all about being upfront and communicative. I want you to have the information you need to better prepare yourself for our session and calm your nerves. If you’re easygoing and flexible, our session will be fabulous. If you’re not and after reading this you’ve realized I’m not the photographer for you, no hard feelings! Just make sure you let me know ASAP/do not book me. Everyone has their own vibe. I love to be prepared. Reschedules stress me out. I hope by guiding you, it’ll help us both out!
Thanks for reading.