Although it sounds easy peezy, on location photography is actually one of the most challenging of all photo sessions. The lighting, weather, terrain, subjects and nature of the shoot all come into play. If you’re a professional, then as many details as possible should be well thought of prior to your shoot. Always, always play the role of a professional or you run the risk of losing your client’s trust. Don’t make excuses; simply learn how to navigate around your obstacles and use them to create something new and fresh.
Recently I flew up to North Carolina to photograph my niece, Lauren’s bridal portraits. It was 4 days before the wedding and we were down to the wire. She and her mom, Debbie, took off work for the shoot as this was the only pocket of time they had available. Because I’m not familiar with the area, I trusted them with the destination of our shoot. Though it was a cloudy day, a lovely outdoor area was chosen; the family log cabin, surrounded with tall trees and lush green acreage. It was a sentimental location for Lauren.
The bride-to-be looked stunning with her hair and makeup the epitome of perfection. The three of us were so excited and as we drove the short distance to the cabin, a big fat ugly gray cloud loomed over us. You can guess the rest; it began to rain. Oh my! As I read the discouragement on Lauren’s and Debbie’s faces, I realized I now had the added pressure of morale booster. But I didn’t travel 1700 miles to give up before we ever started. The show must go on, and it did.
Since it was raining and we couldn’t risk soiling her gown, I chose the porch of the rustic cabin and used it as my studio for the first hour of our photo session. The rain behind us became a lovely diffused backlight. I used a flash mount for fill light and shot nothing over 1/60 of a second, sometimes moving to 1/50 when I could sense that I was losing some of the ambient light. For the set, I incorporated some of the rustic furniture as props. Then more morale boosting as Lauren’s perfectly curled locks hung in their natural state. We used a tissue to blot her very glowing face as it was warm, damp and ridiculously humid. I bring items such as tissues, makeup and hair spray to my shoots and my clients are usually very grateful.
Finally the rain subsided and we cautiously ventured beyond the parameters of the porch. I was then able to get some shots incorporating the trees and the cabin as a background. Sensing that Lauren was tired from the sultry weather, I knew that our session was coming to an end. Never push your subjects beyond their patience in hopes of getting the next great shot. If they’re tired, you usually won’t get it but they’ll remember that the session took too long.
Of course I was concerned that I didn’t get enough great shots (I always stress out until I can really view my images), but as it turned out, I was able to capture many creative images on the day which was too rainy for an outdoor shoot.
Best of luck with your on location photography!
Enjoy the slideshow below from our shoot.