Photographing Horses In Bad Weather
If you are a photographer, it's going to happen. You will have to work in questionable weather. Photographing horses and their people in Florida is no exception. June has reminded me that even all the planning in the world can't keep the rain and gloom from happening when you really REALLY don't want it to happen. I don't know about you, but as an equine photographer most of my work takes place outdoors, in covered arenas, or in barn settings. This means that I'm almost always working in the elements that are presented to me on the day of the session.
Now this doesn't mean that we have to shoot in the rain. Of course not! When working with clients my pre-session consultations always include discussion around weather and the types of images that my client hopes to achieve. So often we find ourselves rescheduling and planning for better weather. However, there are days when that just isn't going to work. Maybe we don't have many days left with a particular horse? Maybe we are on a deadline and images must be captured for a project? Or maybe I'm at an event and it's a rain or shine kind of thing? Regardless, there are days when you just have to be prepared to shoot and create quality images at the same time!
I'm going to be crazy here and encourage you to embrace the "bad" weather! Because that bad weather you are worrying about can actually be pretty amazing for two reasons: One, you can plan to shoot pretty much any time of day without worrying about sticking to sunset and sunrise hours. Two, and my personal favorite, it can create some AMAZING dramatic images with beautiful backgrounds, clouds, atmosphere and mood. I can't tell you how many times I've been worried about a session only to have some amazing light rays peek out of the clouds making the entire worry totally worth it!
So before you get out there and start creating unique and weather-powerful images here are a few tips that I'd suggest you consider first.
1. Make sure your equipment is safe. Use water resistant casing or covers if you have them available or have your assistant hold that umbrella over you. My assistant is always on the spot with my umbrella before I even realize I need it! A raincoat is handy as well because you can slip your cameras under it when you are walking between locations. Extra tip: Bring something absorbent to wipe things down with. I've found that the microfiber cloths aren't very absorbent and can just smear water around.
2. Get off auto. Sorry, but you will have to spend a little time thinking about your settings. You want to use the light you have to your best advantage and that may require tweaking those settings and doing things a little differently than you normally might. Also, water droplets look bigger and smaller depending on your aperture so keep that in mind when shooting for your desired look and how much clean up you want to do in post.
3. Talk to your clients about their horse tack. You may want to switch up the tack that is being used or remove it completely to keep it dry. Horse tack is expensive and your clients will appreciate your understanding of that.
4. Look for a barn doorway or a run in shed to place your horse and rider under or to stand under while shooting in the elements. This can be a great time to get those detail shots and capture images of tack, manes and close connection between the horse and rider.
When all else fails it is totally OK to wait it out. Grab a cup of coffee and a smart phone weather app and watch for those little breaks in the weather that will allow you to capture those equine images!
Cara Taylor Swift is an equine and equestrian photographer located in St. Augustine, Florida and can be reached at Cara@FastHorsePhotography.com.