How to Schedule Your Sessions Around the WeatherMar 21, 2023
WIND, RAIN, CLOUDS… are there any 90’s kids in the room that started getting Captain Planet cartoon flashbacks?! OK, but seriously, how do we handle these elements as photographers who have zero control over them? With over 20 years of combined shooting experience all across the country, we are giving you a breakdown of the factors we consider when approaching a session with these elements. Hopefully this will help you feel clear and confident in how to make decisions that best suite your brand! In turn you’ll be building trust with your clients as you reassure them that you can handle the situation. So let’s get started… first up is WIND!
Wind Gusts vs. Sustained Winds
There are two different types of winds to consider: wind gusts and sustained winds. The difference between the 2 of these is important! Wind gusts are those random big gusts of wind and sustained wind is the average speed of the wind over a period of two minutes. Both of these numbers have an impact on your session, however, wind gusts are going to be easier to manage than high sustained winds (think non-stop wind).
How much is too much?
OK, we know the different kinds of wind, but how much is too much!? This is going to be dependent upon where you are based and the general expectations for your area. For example, if you are a beach photographer, your threshold for wind is going to be much higher given that beaches are windy! We recommend finding your acceptable wind speed in the locations YOU shoot for YOUR brand. Maybe you love the idea of wild wind and the movement it adds to your sessions - your tolerance is going to be high. Maybe you specialize in creating more formal portraits - in that case, your tolerance is likely to be low. Whatever is it, be sure your website, social media, and brand reflect that. If you don’t show and explain to your client how amazing the wind is and you provide them a wind-packed gallery there is likely to be some confusion. Talk about the weather, educate your client! Let them know they can trust you when you do recommend rescheduling. You can set a standard rule of, when sustained winds are predicted to be over X mph, that is an automatic reschedule.
I’ve got my numbers, now what?
Now that you have your numbers, it’s time to make predictions! We use Accuweather and have found it to be very helpful. If the wind speeds don’t match the range we recommend we communicate this to our clients. We wouldn’t want a doctor operating if our lab numbers weren’t in normals range right?! While a little less important, we think our clients appreciate the care we take in making sure their session is as successful as possible!
Tip: Always keep an emergency kit in your camera bag! We make sure to have plenty of bobby pins and clear hair ties in case the wind gets to be too much.
Rain, Rain, Go Away!
Rain is a tough one! You look at the forecast, reschedule the session, and then BAM the sun comes out and it’s a beautiful day! First thing to remember is that we have ALL been there! Your clients are not making this investment because you have amazing weather forecasting skills; they are investing in you as an artist! So, let’s remember that it’s okay not to get it right every time!
We always approach the conversation by reminding them “hey, we might be wrong but we think it’s in your best interest to reschedule”. We would rather accidentally miss a sunny day than have our clients get stuck in the rain. We also find it’s best to let them know during booking that we will be in touch 24 hours before their session with anything weather-related. (This helps ease everyone’s concerns on the 10 day weather check that changes day by day.) If there is rain projected on the 24 hour forecast and we think there still might be a chance to hold the session, we let them know we can wait it out and check back in X hours before the session to make the call. Reminder, always keep mom’s getting ready window in mind, and try to eliminate as much inconvenience as possible.
This one is up to you and your end product! What is your brand and style? Do your clients come to you for those bright sun-filled images? If so, it’s best to reschedule OR give them the option to reschedule while communicating that their images will look different than your signature style if you move forward with clouds. We like to use the cloud cover prediction radar on the Accuweather app as we have found it to be fairly accurate within 6-8 hours of a session.
Be sure to keep in mind the seasons as well - your threshold is likely to be different depending on the time of year you are shooting. For example, we find clouds to be more tolerable during the winter when everything outside is mostly neutral in color. However, in the summer, skin tones are more affected by the diffused cloudy light reflecting off of the green landscapes.
Want to see exactly how we handle a super cloudy session? We’ve got you covered in the Master Course: Master the Light and Airy Style where we include a specific section for cloudy sessions and how we shoot and edit for these conditions.