A lot of photographers aren’t fans of the darker skies, primarily citing the flat light as one of the reasons. But me? I welcome them with open arms.
Here are some benefits and tips to photographing on a cloudy day:
1. No open shade? No problem!
Client shows up in a white dress/shirt? Sun is blazing? No trees to help produce some needed shade? (Insert scream of panic here!). My number one reason for loving cloudy day shooting is my client can go anywhere. This recent Communion shoot was a dream because she could walk anywhere and I didn’t have to worry about her squinting or the light bouncing off her dress. It allowed us to feel so much less directed in our shoot and produced some beautiful images without me having to worry about her dress blowing out (blowing out is defined as when parts of an image are so overexposed they lose all detail). That ability to shoot anywhere at any time and not be concerned with harsh sun, you just can’t beat it!
Ever try photographing in a playground on a sunny day? Shadows from the equipment, child starts in shade at the top of the slide, comes down into full sun. Not fun! Cloudy day? No problem.
Or on someone’s front pathway!
2. Bye Bye dappled light.
Ever see a great shot with slices of light on people’s faces/arms/etc.? That is the dreaded dappled light. You pull clients under some trees, the light filters through and slivers of light show up on their body. Not technically great. Not a problem on the cloudy days. The light is even. I much prefer to say ‘even’ than ‘flat’ when I describe the light on a cloudy day.
3. Look to the sky!
An important tip to remember is you always want light in the eyes of your subject regardless of what kind of day. No matter HOW cloudy, if a client is looking up towards the sky, you will get catch lights. Make sure to include that as one of your angles when photographing on cloudy days- up up UP.
4. No neon grass!
We have all been there. Blazing hot sun on grass = heinous colored grass. No sun = beautiful lush green grass.
5. Shoot at the beach ANYTIME.
Between the water and sand reflecting and bouncing light, you really are limited to filming in the early, early morning and the Golden Hour. On a cloudy day, you can photograph at 1pm. Generally, 1pm the sun is uber high in the sky and between the squinting and harsh facial shadows it is not too desirable. When the sun is normally the highest in the sky and produces dark shadows.
So don’t shy away from the cloudy days- consider it ‘pass’ from Mother Nature to go crazy and photograph without restriction!
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