You’re a wedding photographer, and have an amazing wedding booked today. You’ve consulted your notes, packed your bags, charged your batteries and envisioned all of the beautiful images you will take. You take a quick look at the forecast (or out the window) and your heart sinks. RAIN. ALLLL day. The panic sets in.
What the the $#?! What are you going to do? Cue the anxiety…. You can already imagine the bad reviews on Yelp, Google, and Wedding Wire that the bride will leave after she gets her images back. You know that this venue doesn’t have great indoor areas, and now all of the outdoor photo ideas you had are RUINED.
Nothing can give you anxiety like not having a plan B. After 15 years of photographing weddings (and a lot of rainy ones at that!) I have experienced that panic first hand.
So, what do I do? I’ll tell ya! I’ve got ten simple ideas you can try for rainy day photos. You don’t need to be a lighting expert with these setups, and you’ll be amazed at how many great photos you end up with. Save, bookmark, print out, or Pin this article and use these on every rainy wedding day!
1. Standing close to a window or doorway
One of my favorite go-to photos on a rainy day is to get the bride and/or groom close to a big window or doorway. This shot can be amazing for bridal portraits or for couples photos! Find large windows or large doors that have natural light from outdoors. Position your subject close to the window or door. You’ll want to up your ISO and possibly bounce a little fill flash (from your on-camera flash) into a neutral wall–this isn’t necessary, but it can help.
This setup is ideal for a bride’s silhouette shot from behind with her veil and train laid out! You can also have your bride and groom kiss, kiss foreheads, have the groom pick her up, have the groom spin or dip her–you get the idea. Another beautiful shot is when you flip the bride’s long veil over both of their heads and have them kiss. I personally would avoid close up face shots for this setup, as using a high ISO and backlighting can produce some grainy (not so flattering) lighting. Save close up photos for setup #2 or #3!
2. Use strong side lighting
When you’re close to a large window or exterior doorway with daylight natural light streaming through, it’s everything dramatic and beautiful. Placing the bride and groom against a wall close to a large doorway or large window can create gorgeous shots with great contrast. This is a great setup to do right after setup #1, as you’ll already be close to a large window or door 🙂
Face the bride towards the door so that the lighting is the most favorable for her face. The bride or groom can face you and hold hands. You can also ask them to look at each other (as if that’s going to be a challenge! haha!) or the groom can lean against the wall and have the bride face him (her back to you, slightly to the side of the groom, see last shot).
3. Close beauty shots facing natural light
You always need some beautiful close shots on a wedding days. On these individual close-up and couple close-ups, flattering lighting is what you’re after. Don’t worry about the background as much–be concerned with the quality of light instead. The challenge is how to find gorgeous light with all of that rain and crappy indoor lighting, right?
Look for the biggest windows or open up some big doors. Try to find a spot that doesn’t have a ton of indoor fluorescent or tungsten lights. You will stand with your back touching the window or you’ll stand in the doorway. It’s not always a possibility, but if you can swing it, turn off the lights in the room to avoid that gross orange or green glow from the indoor lights.
I shoot these on the lowest aperture possible so that the background goes blurry- 1.8 – 2.8 if possible (but if you’re doing couples photos be very careful- make sure both of their faces are in perfect alignment so that that one person is not blurry). You’ll want to shoot these around 50mm so that you don’t get distortion, but they don’t have to stand far away from the window. Do different closeup poses, including both couple and individual photos!
4. Go outside on a porch or under an overhang
If the wind isn’t blowing too hard, you can get away with bringing everyone outside onto a porch or under an overhang and getting some natural light photos! Be extremely careful that you don’t get the bride’s dress wet or dirty. I always bring an old white sheet to every wedding to put on the ground so that I can lay her dress on top of it in case of dirt or rain–it’s a good habit to get into! You can do a variety of poses here depending on the layout of your venue.
Side note: You may need an assistant or friend to hold an umbrella over you and your camera while you shoot these!
5. Available ambient light photos
If you are in a church sanctuary or other brightly lit indoor area, there is a possibility of doing available light photos. This setup can give you a lot of options for angles while capturing the beauty of their venue! You’ll normally have to crank your ISO for these, so I wouldn’t recommend doing close up face shots since they’ll be too grainy. Typically, you’ll also want to turn your subject’s face towards any large windows, and you’ll want to turn off as many lights as possible to avoid your color balance turning the photo orange or yellow. If it is too dark once you turn off the lights, try bouncing your on-camera flash into a neutral side wall to fill in the shadows.
6. Sitting in a window sill
It’s easy to forget to take some seated photos when you’re shooting outdoors, so use the indoors to your advantage and take some sitting shots! These kinds of shots–particularly in the window sill–make for a great way to include more poses on a rainy day! This setup also works great for the ring bearer and the flower girl. Be sure to wipe off the window sill before seating your clients to avoid getting dirt on their wedding attire.
7. Umbrella photos
Have a laid-back couple today? If they’re adventurous, grab a few umbrellas and head outside! Candid rain photos can be so fun and usually end up being the client’s favorite photos of the day. Nothing says rolling with the punches like taking advantage of the rain for photos. I prefer to do these AFTER the ceremony or during the reception to make sure the bride looks perfect for her wedding ceremony 😉
8. Interesting architecture or lines
Arrive especially early on a rainy wedding day so that you have time to look around for interesting angles or architecture. This can add a lot of options into your photo lineup! In addition to interesting architecture, be sure to look for symmetry, repeating lines, or reflections in mirrors that you can use to your artistic advantage.
9. Available light evening photos
Rain is especially pretty at night when it’s backlit by available lights outside the wedding venue! Be sure to bring a tripod as you’ll have to do a long shutter speed to get a good exposure. Have a friend or assistant hold an umbrella over you as you take a few photos with your camera on a tripod. Add in a sparkler for fun, too!
Want to go the extra mile on this photo? Add a back light with an Alien Bee + grid spot or a small speedlight behind the bride and groom.
10. Using artificial lighting in the best way possible
If I feel like I’m out of natural light options or don’t feel like I have enough usable shots, I set up a couple of Alien Bee lights with big softbox umbrellas and have them ready to go. Below are some examples of this type of lighting 🙂
If you’re shooting weddings, I feel it’s a must to know how to use studio lights! Don’t know how to do this? Sign up for our newsletter to hear when our basic lighting 101 class will be released!
What other rainy wedding day photos have worked well for you? Leave a comment below and tell us about it! Also, we’d love to see any photos you capture while using these techniques! Hashtag #RealLifeCaptured on Instagram or Facebook.
Krista Lee is a Nashville, TN based portrait and wedding photographer. See her work and professional site at www.kristaleephotography.com
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