What Happens if it Rains During Your Portrait Session | Ask Katharine

If you've been in Chicago anytime in the last few weeks, you've likely gotten caught in a thunderstorm. Because it's been so hot and humid, more days than not we get a massive amount of rain and lightning even if it's only for half an hour. But if you've got a portrait session planned for the day - what should you do? Figuring out the answer to that can be scary and confusing, especially if it's your first (photo) rodeo. Here's a few options that you should discuss with your photographer who will hopefully have their own ideas and preferences so they can guide you!

I was put in this position just a few weeks ago for Alyssa's lifestyle session in Bucktown - it was 4pm, two hours before our planned session and the weather forecast said 90% chance during the hour we'd planned for. I had been keeping an eye on the weather all day with a back up plan if necessary, and once I saw that it was definitely going to be a downpour for the hour we had schedule, I contacted Alyssa and asked if she was able to reschedule. Thankfully our timing worked out and it wasn't a problem - but sometimes clients come in from out of town, or it's a specific date that needs to be captured. So what other options are there?

You've basically got three options for what to do if it's raining/supposed to rain during your session, outlined below!

1. Reschedule

This option will depend on your photographer's contract and preferences, but I think that it's generally the most common choice that clients make. Some photographers will leave it up to the client to choose, and some have it in their contract that if there's a 60% chance or more of rain that the client must reschedule. It can be extremely disappointing to get all dressed up, have your hair and make up done, finally coordinate everything, and then to have it be cancelled the day of. While it can be hard to choose this one, it will likely make your session more enjoyable if you're not panicked about being caught in a downpour in your new heels or favorite dress. 

2. Have A Backup Plan

Like I said earlier it's been raining a lot in Chicago, and I had this same problem for my recent styled shoot with Honey Bridal and other great vendors in the area. For this specific session, it wasn't really possible to reschedule as it was the only night that worked for all the collaborators, we'd had a bouquet made especially for that day, and multiple of the women were coming in from out of town. Because the shoot had to be done that day, I found a few back up locations that were either indoors or had ample architectural designs that provided dry spaces if it came to that. Thankfully it didn't rain on us, but I'm glad I had other options if it had started to thunderstorm.

3. Just Go For It

If your'e the adventurous type, or you don't feel like rescheduling, or you absolutely have to have your portrait taken in the outdoor location, I say go for it. I've seen some gorgeous sessions that were done in the rain (with the photographer either under an umbrella or under something providing shelter) - and if you're feeling creative or ambitious then why not? You'll without a doubt get beautiful photographs, and it'll leave you with an incredible experience that not many clients have! Just make sure your photographer is cool with it, and then get out there and dance in the rain. ;)


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Katharine Hannah

Katharine’s work has graced the walls of institutions such as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Harold Washington Library of Chicago, and local galleries such as Dreambox Gallery, Siragus Gallery and Blick Art Materials. She has also been featured on websites such as the Huffington Post, Phlearn, Fstoppers, Tigress Magazine for Girls, Bitchtopia, and Golden Boy Press.

In addition to photography, Katharine has been a mentor and educator in the arts since 2013. She has worked with students in various organizations and projects over the last two years, including Hive Chicago’s PROjectUS initiative and Digital Youth Network’s Digital Diva’s and Chicago City of Learning programs.