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How Do You “Manage” Bad Weather in Your Photography Business?

Published: 10/08/2019

Jason, in Harrisburg, PA, writes:

“We’ve had a very wet year here in Pennsylvania. My clients keep cancelling our scheduled shoots on rainy days. I understand why they want nice exterior shots but I really like shooting on rainy days, as I find my interior shots look way better, with no harsh shadows and brutal hot-spots. Should I be insisting that we shoot on a rainy day?”

Thanks for the question, Jason. I agree that shooting on a rainy day is great. The clouds act like a giant shoot-through umbrella that not only allows for a nice, soft light for our interior shots. In regard to your specific question though, I know many shooters who simply tell their agents that the photoshoot is going to move forward because it’s simply too hard to reschedule.

If the agent still wants sunny day exterior shots, then many of these shooters will try to stop by the house on their way to/from another shoot (if possible)... but... they make the agent aware that it’s his/her responsibility to monitor the weather forecast, make sure that homeowners are okay with the photographer dropping by, and then reach out to the photographer to see if they're available to take the exterior shots.

I’m also aware of a small but seemingly increasing number of real estate photographers who, as part of outsourcing their post-production, work out a deal with the retouching company to incorporate sky replacements for all exteriors shots and window pulls. As a matter of fact, I recently wrote an article about this, so give it a look.

So, what advice can you share with Jason about managing rainy days with your clientele?

Tony Colangelo is a residential and commercial photographer, as well as a photography coach, based in Victoria, BC, Canada. He is a long-time contributor to PFRE and is the creator of The Art & Science of Great Composition tutorial series.

12 comments on “How Do You “Manage” Bad Weather in Your Photography Business?”

  1. If at all possible to get to the property, I push clients to not cancel a shoot due to a rainy day. I will offer to pick up sunny (or at least less rainy/snowy) exteriors on a different day for no extra cost since exteriors don't take that much time. The same goes for a home that might have one or two view shots. If the interiors are going to be over 50% view photos, I'll agree that it's worth holding off.

    I try to get properties done as soon as possible and not push sessions into the future. Partly, if I'm sitting at home, I'm not making money. The other reason is that there is always the chance that a property will be sold before I make the photos which means they won't need me and I lose a job. Thirdly, when it rains, it pours. I tend to get bookings in waves and the last thing I want is to have to tell a customer I can't get to their job for several days. Competition has been hotting up and I don't want to give my customers any excuses to give somebody else a try.

    Since I do plenty of vacant properties, scheduling is often very flexible. If there is time, I'll do the job on the same day I get the booking unless I'll be looking straight into the sun for the main front exterior. If the sun isn't cooperating, I'll get up early the next day and do the job at first light. I've had jobs come in late in the afternoon when I'm not too far away and shot half of the property before I lost the light and did the rest the next morning. I could have done the whole job the next day, but I was done before mid-morning and had another slot I could book. The last time I remember didn't hand me another booking, but I had half of the images processed the night before and delivered the job just after lunch. Happy customer and the rest of the day off (darnit).

  2. I had a client that insisted on blue sky replacement. That condo sure looked odd with bright blue sky and heavy rain in front of the building . I don't shoot for him anymore. This is Oregon, it rains.

  3. I accommodate the clients the best I can. That is, if they want to reschedule then so be it. Some agents (usually those with no experience) are freaked out when there is a cloud in the sky, so we just let them know that won't be a problem.
    When it is raining, we have clients that don't care and know our editors can "enhance" the exterior shots to meet their requirements. When shooting in raining weather, I usually get lucky and grab some shots between when it is raining and not. If it is continuous rain, then I swing by the next decent day for a quick front shot.

    Bottom line, I am in rain is not a problem 95% of the time. The problem is that agents want "perfect" conditions.

  4. I ignore weather forecasts to a degree. Several years ago, the weatherman was freaking out about this monster storm. I cancelled five shoots, and destroyed a weekend to reschedule them all. It rained for an hour. I vowed I would never do that again.

    In a downpour, I occasionally have to make a second trip to re shoot an exterior, and I occasionally put in a subtle blue sky. But more often than not, I ignore the weather, and it's fine.

    And frankly, gray overcast days make interiors way easier to shoot.

  5. we are now in the Hurricane, rainy season here in the Sarasota/Tampa FL area. Tampa is the lightning capital of the country, perhaps the world (cant remember) and the weather map always shows thunderstorms everyday. But that changes and mostly in the afternoon, or it will rain in the morning for 10 min and then sunny day.
    some agents/clients freak out and will want to cancel, but as Ken mentioned, I don't want to cancel and perhaps lose a job to a competitor. so I tell them the the interiors actually come out better in overcast days and I'll swing by and shoot the exterior the next sunny day. most of the time, i can get a shot of the exterior in between the rain when it stops for a while. and as mentioned, I don't make any money sitting home.
    yesterday I had a beautiful home to shoot. it was overcast and my agent wanted to cancel. I shot it anyway and the sun came out while I was shooting the interior shots. The only issue I had was my phantom 4 pro , which is like new, updated by itself, and didn't give me any video signal, so I couldn't do the aerials. I tried for over an hr to get a picture on my tablet (DJI has terrible tech support, and couldn't find a fix on their forum ) but I had another shoot to get to. when I got home, set up the drone in my house, my drone gave me a signal. its been happening more frequently for no reason.
    it just started happening a few weeks ago and now i have to go back and try again and pray it works. I also need it for today's shoot.
    I always wondered how you guys living in the North west handled shooting in the overcast weather.
    someone should invent a software that automatically inserts sunny skies and nice shadowing on the homes. like a sunny day here in FL

  6. I don't take responsibility for the weather. I have a rescheduling/cancellation fee if it is within 24 hours. I guarantee blue skies and will reshoot the exterior IF it is raining too hard at the time of the shoot. If it weather were my responsibility I'd have to charge more.

  7. @Eric M Hilton, I don't let my DJI drone connect with a device that is connected to the internet on jobs. I have a dedicated tablet I use for the drone and the CamRanger that doesn't have a cellular modem. My phone is my backup and by default, the cellular data is off.

    I turn off auto-updates wherever possible just because of the situation you describe. When updates come out I'll check a couple of days later or before I apply the patch to see if there are any reports of bad things happening. Losing a day or two of work because an update bricked a piece of gear could cost thousands. More than the monetary cost is the loss of face with the customer.

  8. Hi Tony,

    Good thoughts. I was interested in reading your hyperlinked article, but it just takes me to a WordPress logon screen. Please provide a separate link if you get a moment. Cheers, Jon

  9. Cancelling is a facade for wanting to be reassured.

    That is all they want. Just say something like "we are able to make the photos look great under any conditions".

    Time is money. If it is pouring it is tough to even get the ex shots in the bag. But when it is doing just get on a tripod, get a few exposures and use darken or average and replace the skies, or have a retoucher do it.

  10. I always provide a blue sky replacement as an option. In the upper Midwest there's no way to guarantee a natural blue sky (we've had less than a handful of clear days all Summer). The blue sky replacement works out fine unless it's pouring, really dark outside or done poorly.

  11. I hate cancellations.. I offer my clients free sky replacements on the exteriors on their first try, after that they pay me $30 and most of them give me the go ahead to do it on all future shoots.

    The best day to go to market is the best day no point in letting the weather get In the way of the agent or ourselves making money.

    The only time we cancel is if it is foggy or hazy high up in condos as you can't replace what you can't see, that happens once or twice a year.

    Hope that helps.

    I can't have my guys go down for the day because of rain, as for rain in front of the property slow down the shutter or use an nd filter it disappears.

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