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How To Handle The Heat On Your Portrait Session

This has been an incredibly hot summer so far. In fact, it’s shaping up to maybe be the hottest one on record, wordwide! Besides the very serious affects weather can have on infrastructure and emergency services, it will also have an affect on the portrait session you hope to hold.

As with rain and snow, we consider temperatures in excess of 95 degrees (or below 35 degrees) to be inclement weather. Unless other arrangements are specifically made, we will postpone sessions scheduled for days that are forecasted to be very hot or cold. This is particularly true if children or elderly people are involved, because those individuals may be more susceptible to heat-related illness. If the temperatures won’t be hot enough to be considered inclement weather, but you have a condition that could still be dangerous in the heat, or if you know that you sweat more than average, rescheduling may still be an option for you. Be sure to discuss this with your photographer.

But it doesn’t have to be 95 degrees to be hot and uncomfortable out. And maybe rescheduling isn’t an option for you. For example, perhaps your family is in from out of town and that one date is the only one that will work. In this case, what can you do?

Change the Location

Like most people we prefer the outdoors for most portrait, where we happen to be at the mercy of Mother Nature. But if you can’t reschedule, and having your session outdoors isn’t super important to you, we can move it into your home! If we have at least a few days notice, we may also be able to move to some other indoor location. Certain museums , for example, can make good options. Or a restaurant may occasionally make for a good shooting location.

Change the Theme

Every session has a theme, it’s just that they often go unspoken. For example, it could be said that most ordinary family portrait and engagement sessions have a broad theme of “love and togetherness”. All of the images in some way will touch on those two ideas. Heat might leave you sweaty-looking, or needing to wear clothes that are so light you find them too casual for your portraits. But, if we were to add the broad concept of “heat” to your portrait session’s theme, those same problems would suddenly enhance the thematic quality of the images.

You could consider a shoot covered in seawater and sand, which would produce authentic-feeling lifestyle portraits. Or you could consider portraits of the family with dirty knees and ripped jeans, all working in the garden together. Or, how about a water balloon fight, or turning on the sprinkler in the back yard, or heck, even standing in a public fountain. All of these change the theme to make more sense out of the heat.

Shoot at Night Time

We can’t always guarantee that a shoot can be moved to the night time because of heat, but when it can, we’ll gladly oblige. Shooting after the sun goes down will change the nature of the session to some extent. Namely, it will be a bit slower moving and you won’t cover as much geography in the images. The images will also likely be a bit more formal in nature.

In this case, your photographer will bring lights to work with and will blend them with whatever ambient light may be available to try and create engaging portraits with the absence of light.

If all else fails: water bottles and umbrellas!

Sometimes it’s super hot, you really want to shoot outside, but you just can’t reschedule—even to the night time. In this case, your best bet is going to be to plan for the discomfort and we’ll work as quickly as possible. Bring umbrellas for shade between shots, bring plenty of extra cold water in insulated bottles and be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen!

If this is the approach you choose, the most important factor is to remember, there is only so much your photographer can do to help mitigate the affects of the heat on you in the images, and so we don’t recommend doing it this way if you’re very sensitive to heat.

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