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Salvaging a Disaster Session

Train Wreck Shoots Happen

Once in a super blue moon, a shoot can turn into a disaster. It’s a little taboo to actually say that- like “Hey folks! There’s a chance (<5% chance but still a possibility) that your shoot may go haywire.” But if you ask anyone in any given field whether work occasionally goes awry and things happen, everyone will agree that it’s inevitable. 

The reality though is that in the service industries that possibility is something we all want to ignore because it means acknowledging that a small percentage of people may have a bad experience. That genuinely hurts the heart of all small business owners. I’ve been beyond blessed because even the worst shoots I’ve had still have produced some amazing images, despite the hurdles.

But we need to take a minute to say “Yes, your photoshoot has the potential to turn into a disaster, but it doesn’t have to be one!” Here’s why and how.

Why Photoshoots Can Flop

Let’s get something straight; your kids’/teens’/spouse's behavior won’t ruin a session. It may make our job (you and me) more challenging, but I’ve never had a “disaster” session because a child had a meltdown or jumped in the creek or ran away screaming. (But it’s a good thing to be prepared for! Find more tips HERE.)

So what does wreck a shoot? NATURE. It’s all the little natural disasters that you and I don’t have any control over. Mosquitos, bugs, extreme heat, rain, cold, sleet, and snow.

How Can We Make Sure Our Session Doesn't Fail?

Be prepared! 

Expect the worst and roll with the punches. It’s April and we’re coming right into busy season AND rainy season AND bug season so it’s important that we start preparing now.

I’m posting this because the photos you see here are from what started out as a classic “disaster” shoot: no rain in the forecast, beautiful 65* evening, gorgeous location. Then the very minute this sweet family pulled up we had a LITERAL DOWNPOUR.

Downpouring: we took this photo and went back to the car

30 minutes after- clear skies and gorgeous light

Why This Session DIDN’T Flop

This session had the potential to become a MAJOR failure, but we made sure it didn’t by taking the following steps.

1. Bringing the Right Supplies

I pulled out a clear umbrella as we tried to salvage things at the beginning (which would have been great if it was lightly raining, not torrential storm!) Other things I recommend are blankets, waterproof shoes, wet wipes, water, snacks, and bug spray.

2. Waiting Out the Rain

We jumped back in the car, looked at the radar, and decided to wait it out. (The Dark Sky app is an amazing weather tool that gives me surprisingly accurate minute by minute updates of the weather in the immediate area) 

3. Giving Me Full Location Control

Hannah and Garrett were incredibly laid back and flexible on everything. This location was straight out of a fairytale and they put it 100% in my hands to take them somewhere that would suit all our needs (such as easy access from parking so we wouldn’t be taking their baby through the woods) and be really stunning. 

4. Doing Their Photo Homework

They came with a vision for the shoot! You don’t even know how important this is people. Do your homework! Look through galleries of my work, show your spouse a couple photos, share with your teen kids, so that when the time comes you’re all prepared. We’ll be getting both the smiling right at the camera shots and the natural, unposed photos. If everyone understands the variety of images we’ll be getting, it makes your shoot way easier and more enjoyable.

5. Rolling With the Punches

My goal is to arrive 30-40 minutes BEFORE your session at our location. If the location looks rough or is really buggy suddenly, I’ll contact my client to see if we can try Plan B; in fact, I had to do that with this shoot! If it starts raining or looking like rain, I’ll contact the client to get a feel on how they want to deal with the weather and many times we’ll reschedule. But let me encourage you to do this; if it looks like the rain may be brief and you guys are already ready or in the car on your way, consider just coming anyway. If it’s light rain, we can get some fun shots with umbrellas and bare feet. If it’s heavy rain and it looks like it will pass, the light AFTER a mini storm is often AMAZING (like you see here with these photos). Because they waited, they got an even better setting than we would have if we had rescheduled.

6. Rain Dates

If your schedule is particularly busy, send me a few weekdays that you’re available around the day of our shoot that I can pick from for a rain date if we need to reschedule.

Attitude Is Everything 

Understand that bad weather, “bad” lighting, or any other little natural disaster has the potential to ruin a shoot but we don’t need to let it! Let go of what you expect your session to look like and enjoy what it becomes. This shoot was such a joy because they never held tightly to any one idea of what it *should* be. They were prepared to jump in creeks, stand in the rain, and snuggle their baby in the sunshine. Enjoying your shoot for what it is makes ALL the difference. 


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