Secrets of taking good pictures: Come rain or shine

Photography expert Tom Langford gives tips on how to compensate for less than adequate weather.

Camera 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Camera 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
As a commercial photographer my goal is always to create the best possible images to fulfill my clients’ requirements. The definition of “fulfill” is to do what’s necessary to produce what’s expected, desired or promised. Sometimes this requires many more skills than just being able to handle a camera. It’s a matter of professional pride that I produce good results no matter what unexpected circumstances may arise.ImprovisingA typical fashion shoot for a UK magazine requires at least eight pictures of different outfits. Most of my time is spent hanging around while the models’ hair, makeup and clothes are being changed between each set - the time we spend shooting is fairly brief. It’s vital that we make an early start if the shoot is to be successful.
I remember once working with an inexperienced art director whose bungling caused us to delay shooting until late afternoon. We were using a forest location during late autumn and my brief was for a bright, sunny fashion spread. I had brought the usual fill-flash portable lighting kit, but due to the late start we were still working at night and in the dark. I had taken some good shots during the daylight but lighting the models adequately at night was going to be a problem.
I saved the day (or should I say the night) by improvising with whatever extra lighting we could find. For one shot I used the headlights of both my car and the magazine’s van. For the final picture I lit the models with flash and had them stand as still as possible while I counted down the 30 seconds exposure we needed to capture some detail in the background of trees and sky.
Rain and shine
The shot below was taken during a shoot at a stately home. I took some good interior and exterior shots in the bright morning light but when the time came to take this shot it had started to rain and turned into a chilly, grey day.
Golf course: AfterGolf course: After
The shoot could not be cancelled and there was no possibility of returning to take this picture on a fine, sunny day. I offered to shoot what was possible and retouch it afterwards to make it appear sunny. Here is how the bunker area actually looked before I worked on it:
Fortunately I am also a professional retoucher and I was able to do some digital magic and save the (rainy) day. I inserted the extra shot of a golfer to add another focal point and bring the picture to life.
Overcoming obstacles is part and parcel of professional work. I shoot food, architecture, products, models, portraits, weddings Bar Mitzvahs, etc, and each field has its own challenges to overcome. This is what keeps photography exciting and fresh. I can’t say there’s never a dull moment, but when I’m shooting I’m far too busy to notice one.
Picture Clinic 
If you would like to develop your photography skills, you are welcome to send to me one of your pictures that I may publish with some constructive feedback.  Upload your picture here: Langford is an Event and Commercial photographer: http://weddingseventsisrael.com
Details of his next photography and retouching courses in Israel: