It’s no secret that I love shooting in the rain. It just makes images have a darker mood while still popping colors beautifully.
I do get this question quite often though, so I thought I’d write a simple article for some rain street photography tips.
I also made a video about this topic, so if you’d like to watch instead, here it is:
How to protect your camera from the rain?
If you don’t have a completely weather sealed camera AND lens, you will need to protect your camera with either a makeshift case, or my preference, an umbrella. Apparently the Sony a7rii is not completely weather resistant, which I unfortunately found out the hard way. (Rest of the body is, but not the LCD).
My favorite way to protect my camera from the rain is by simply using an umbrella. Mostly because it also protects my face and rest of body. An additional benefit is that you can sort of obstruct people’s view of YOU with the umbrella, making it less obvious you’re taking pictures, granting you the option to be a bit more subtle and/or candid.
Holding an umbrella does obviously make things a bit clumsier, as now you gotta shoot 1-handed. This makes it impossible to use a manual focus lens or something like a Leica rangefinder, for example. Additionally it makes it harder to check your phone for things like GPS and Tinder. I don’t like using a strap, so to solve this problem, I got a peak design holster-thing for my camera bag. This has been one of my most useful bang-for-buck pieces of equipment.
Another option you have is tying your umbrella to your camera bag or jacket. This is a bit awkward and clumsy, but works in a pinch if you have to use manual focus. I have a messenger style bag, so I just slip the umbrella onto the strat on my chest and twist it a couple of times. Alternatively, if you have a jacket, you can slip the umbrella down your jacket along your chest, then close the zipper. Depending on the type of jacket, this works. Unfortunately you look like a goofy genius – but if it’s very rainy, most people won’t notice you anyway.
For those of you who hate umbrellas for whatever reason, there’s always the option of getting yourself a waterproof casing for your camera. This can be specifically designed, or basically a plastic bag taped onto your camera. I don’t like this method, for a couple of reasons. First because it makes it harder to access all the buttons on your camera. Secondly, your lens is still exposed to waterdrops, so have fun constantly protecting and wiping it. Maybe on a light drizzle this could be an option.
Lens hoods aren’t just for sun glares, they can help keep your lens clear of raindrops and/or even snow.
Things to pay attention to when it’s raining
Now that you’ve got the equipment issue out of the way, let’s talk about how shooting in the rain differs from regular weather.
- First, a non artistic factor – your shoes. Wear something that isn’t slippery as hell. I used to have a pair of Nike Air Jordans, but after slipping about 5 times in a row on one particularly rainy day and almost breaking my camera and gimbal, I decided to throw them in the trash. It’s also nice if your shoes are actually waterproof.
- Other than that, when taking pictures, you’ll notice a few things. Reflections make all light sources double as colorful than usual, and also symmetrical. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of #puddlegram shots on social media, but this can also be more subtle than that – even a simple image of a road will look better during a rainy day.
- Raindrops and steam on windows can create mysterious and/or moody scenes that would be impossible during a regular day. Sometimes the rain also causes lamps to steam.
- Umbrellas can also add minimalism or air of mystery in your shots. They can obstruct parts of people’s faces, creating intrigue. Or if you get high up, you can get this abstract effect of floating umbrellas that sometimes can look like a bunch of moving skittles, especially in crowded places.
- Heavy rain can create a nice glow-like effect, especially when backlit.