As I sit down to write this post it’s a grey afternoon in Johannesburg, with the sun just barely shining through the clouds. It’s the kind of afternoon that, imminent rain notwithstanding, makes for beautiful outdoors portraits. It’s as if we’re shooting under a giant softbox.
I have to admit though, it took me quite a while to wrap my head around this whole “shooting outdoors” thing. When I first started out in photography, I was based in a studio – so the shoot would go on no matter what the weather. The lights were set up in the morning and remained unchanged for each shoot of the day. I still love shooting in the studio, but there’s something special about getting out into the fresh air, getting up really early to catch the first light, or taking advantage of the “Golden Hour”, and being a natural light photographer comes with its own set of rewards…and challenges!
I few years ago I was booked to do a pre-Christmas shoot at Delta Park, and the morning of the shoot we woke up to a less than pleasing weather forecast. We were on a tight deadline to get the images done by Christmas, so we decided to go ahead with the day and hope for the best.
Over the last 11 years that I’ve been shooting family portraits I’ve found more and more people want to have their images taken outdoors in more natural settings. Of course the one big variable is the weather, and sometimes things just don’t go according to plan! I’ve often found that being a photographer doesn’t just require me to “take pretty pictures”, but it also pushes me to be a problem-solver and look for creative ways to solve those problems.
I grabbed the above shot on my phone just as we were leaving for the shoot and the little red gumboots were such a brilliant pop of colour on this rainy day that we stuck with the red theme and picked up some bright red balloons on the way to the park.
Delta Park is one of my favourite places to shoot and I’ve done a few portrait sessions there, but none on a day like that one! By the time we arrived the temperature was dropping (16 Degrees Celsius in Johannesburg in November?!) and the rain had started. I knew we wouldn’t have long to get the shots we needed, so we set off for a treed area that would protect us from the worst of the drizzle. All the rain had turned Delta Park into a sea of green and it seemed a waste to have come all that way without at least trying a few shots with those bright red balloons!
Of course I don’t mean you should always rush out there with your clients (or your photographer!) in a deluge and there are times when it may be that you would have to reschedule. I find it helps to be clear with my clients upfront as to what happens in the event of us having to cancel a shoot due to bad weather. Having learnt from experience, I now also keep an umbrella or two handy!
In the end these are just two of the shots we came away with that day. I love them as a reminder that conditions don’t always have to be perfect to get the perfect image!