With all the foul weather and thundersnow we’ve had lately, I figured a blog post with some foul weather photography tips was in order. A bit later on in this post, I’ll also cover some situations for which we usually reschedule portrait sessions. We don’t want to be out in foul weather photographing any more than you want to be exposed to that foul weather.
Now, first let me digress to the topic of thundersnow. Anyone enjoying the thundersnow and lightning we’ve had the past 24 hours? We were inside and didn’t hear the daytime thundersnow, but Toby did wake up last night because of the lightening. Despite getting my son to agree a combination thunderstorm and snowstorm was pretty cool, he still wanted the lightning to stop. In case you haven’t been privy to the lovely foul weather that is called thundersnow, here’s a brief video on the phenomenon:
Let me also say, we were out driving during part of today’s foul weather. It was interesting to see the snowplows pushing waves of icy water off to the side of the road. Lots of big puddles, slushy snow-water, and other runoff. I will be curious to see how the weather plays out the next few days. Despite our best efforts at beating this foul weather, we couldn’t keep up with all the snow, slush, and ice on our driveway. Hopefully it will be warm enough (or at least sunny enough) to melt the ice-skating rink in progress on our driveway tonight.
When Should I Cancel My Session Due to Foul Weather?
If it’s stormy out, I always reschedule my location sessions, no questions asked. I don’t want to be out in that weather any more than you do. Weather can definitely become a safety concern. The lighting and camera equipment I use is pretty much a giant sign saying “lighting please strike here.” Now, I will add one exception — once-in-a-lifetime events like weddings. For weddings, I’ll go with the flow, according to the bride and groom’s alternate weather plans (which usually take foul weather, thunderstorms, etc into consideration).
But for portrait sessions? It is definitely smarter to plan on doing the session another day. Or, if the portraits “must” be done by a certain date, there’s always the option of switching to a studio portrait session. I rarely have to resort to this second option, though. About 99% of the time we can find a fair weather day for rescheduling a portrait session that had to be cancelled due to inclement weather. Sometimes I do have clients interested in getting a “stormy sky” look, but please know we can achieve that going out during foul weather. If there are clouds in the sky, we can do some neat things.
Our Guidelines for Proceeding with a Session during Foul Weather
Some types of foul weather that we reschedule portrait sessions for include:
- thunderstorms/thundersnow and lightning
- heavy rain or downpours
- winter weather warnings/advisories, including extreme cold
- excessive heat warnings/advisories, including extreme heat/humidity
- tornado watches/warnings
- extreme fog
We typically proceed with portrait sessions on a “play it by ear” basis for not-so-foul weather, such as:
- snow flurries
- isolated rain showers
In short, if you’re concerned about the weather having a negative impact on your portrait session, please get in touch with us. Call, email, text… let’s discuss the weather so you can be confident as we make the safe choice for your portrait session. Foul weather may ruin our chances for your portrait session to occur on a given day, but it will NOT ruin your overall portrait experience. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If the weather is bad, let’s call it and plan for another day!
Finally, let me share some resources that I rely on when checking the weather.
- WXYZ Detroit Weather – a first alert page for foul weather, with alerts, forecast, and interactive radar.
- National Weather Service Warnings and Advisories – Michigan – text bulletin alerts for Michigan
- Weather Underground – weather forecast and reports
Obviously, none of these are foolproof, and there has been a time or two when we’ve rescheduled a session, expecting foul weather — and it turned out to be a false alarm. But those instances are few and far between. Usually when we play it by ear, we can agree to decide a few hours beforehand whether it looks wise to proceed with your portrait session or not.
“Foul Weather” Nature Photography Tip:
From a nature and landscape photography point of view… if you choose to take photographs of storms or want to venture out during foul weather, please exercise care and make sure you are not being reckless about your safety. Sure, it would be awesome to capture a time lapse photo of the lightning storm going on. But, that photograph won’t mean much if you’ve been injured in taking it. It would be far safer to photograph a storm from inside a building, or even sitting in a car in a parking structure (remember, rubber wheels?). After all, who wants to be caught on the ground holding onto a tripod turned lighting rod?
Safety first…then art second!