How to make a rainy day count
“Christopher Robin! Will you kindly shake your umbrella and say, ‘Tut tut, it looks like rain?'”
– Winnie the Pooh, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Not every family has the moxie to step into a pair of galoshes and go traipsing over slippery rocks. Not every parent has the confidence to rock a rain jacket instead of a sensible cardigan, and not every kid is willing to get a little muddy just for fun. So if it’s not for you – that’s okay. But if the idea of puddle-jumping and splash-fights are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. Find out how to make the most of your rainy-day moments below.
I love those pretty trees and crunchy leaves just as much as you do. Halloween is my favorite, and my Oct 15th birthday (best-friend hint: all I want for my birthday is this insanely expensive dinosaur sweater) always falls on those magical days when the autumn sky turns blue-purple and everything feels surreal and magical. Unfortunately, October is also hurricane season. For those of us in New England, all that means is a good deal of rain and a few power-outages, nothing scary. And if we’re lucky, the worst thing that happens to us is rescheduling a photo session on a rainy Saturday.
Or do I mean – THE BEST THING?
If you’re planning next year’s family portrait session and looking for something more than bland smiles and cookie-cutter poses, this might be what you’re looking for.
Rainy Days are For Adventure!
Before the weather get too chilly, I took my two kiddos to a local playground to grab some shots in the rain.
After a long dry summer, I was hoping for big puddles, but all we got last weekend was a steady drizzle. I’d love to show you gorgeous puddle-splashing stomps, but it wasn’t in the cards. You’ll just have to trust me that they make gorgeous wall portraits :)
Either way, for a quick visit to the park and a minimum of editing, you can see the dramatic difference. This isn’t for the average, calm kid willing to sit in an antique barrel full of fake leaves. This is for your awesome, unique, weirdo of a kid.
Rain is beautiful
Those surreal blank skies may not look exciting, but they make the perfect backdrop for scenery to pop. The even, warm light of a cloudy sky is the most flattering light available for those of us with double-chins and big noses. The sky becomes an enormous soft-box, the kind that studio photographers blast models with to hide blemishes and smooth skin tones. Of course, inside a studio, you don’t have to deal with running mascara, wet hair, and mud, but that’s what makes it fun and unique. I’ll take gorgeous mud over boring banality any day.
When the weather is gray and neutral, it’s easy to create dramatic pops of color in your portrait – just wear something bold. BAAAM – instant gallery-worthy art piece. You’re welcome.
Pick up an unusual umbrella, some bright galooshes, and a shiny jacket. Neoprene waterproof Boggs are my personal favorites, and they keep me cozy and dry even when I’m ankle-deep in a pond photographing rock-skippers. My toddler loves his Baby Boggs for rain and winter slush. The preschooler prefers his purple Kamiks for hot summer days. When I work, I find it easier to crouch and roll on the ground in my Mountain Hardware rain jacket, but if I was the one in the pictures, I’d go nuts with something bright and impractical.
I’ve tried rain jackets, rain pants, and even winter overalls for my little splashers, but our favorites by far are Tuffo Muddy Buddy overalls. My preschooler can put the suit on over his clothing and they keep the kids dry through heavy downpours and puddles, with room to grow. They LOVE these things. (I do too.)
Setting aside a precious October weekend to photograph your family in the apple orchard, Boston Common, or your favorite playground sounds like a great idea – until you get there and realize everyone in Eastern MA had the EXACT same idea. Now you’ve got crowds and strangers to contend with – good luck getting a good shot in a popular spot without a stranger lurking in the background.
Rain solves all of this. Everyone else stays home – everyone but the mighty adventurers, the family who knows life is more than sunny days and grassy fields. This is also how we meet families like us – the brave, adventurous, soggy families who don’t wait for perfect weather to enjoy a Sunday morning. Awesome new friends + great pictures? Double-win!
My 4-year-old is hitting the age when he worries that my love is conditional. He asks me each night to reassure him that I’ll love him no matter what, that nothing will ever make me want to leave his side.
Telling him isn’t enough. That’s why I use pictures. I show him that I love the pictures of him when he’s covered in grit and mud. Even though I kind of lose it when he floods the entire house with buckets of water – I keep those memories in our family albums because these are the funny stories that make our family hostiry. Those experiences don’t weaken my love for him, even if I am swearing like a sailor in the moment.
I print the pictures when he’s making goofy, weird faces, when he’s showing off his room-destroying skills, when he’s being himself. I don’t have pictures of him sitting quietly and smiling because that’s just not who he is. I want him to know I love him no matter what – not just when he’s calm and easy. So I show him – I show him by treasuring the stories that celebrate who he is.
I want my boys to have memories of how hard we worked to keep them safe, to love them and raise them to be kind and compassionate adults. They won’t remember the long nights and the kissed boo-boos. They will get sick of hearing our stories of sacrifice. But they will have these pictures of us comforting them when they fall. They will see the stories of when they were little, and how we held them close and kept them safe when they needed us most.
These are not the most beautiful, pristine stories. They won’t earn us a thousand likes on Facebook and no one will offer us a parenting-guide book deal. But they are our stories – and they will last longer than our need for approval. Even when we’re no longer there to remind them, these albums will show them who we were, and how we felt about them. Even on the rainiest of days. Unconditionally.
This was a quick Sunday session with my own kids, as they pulled at my elbows and clung to my legs. This is not my best work. But I love each image here anyway, because they are my little hurricanes.
Photographing my own kids is hard.
Choosing the few I can’t live without for our albums is harder.
Editing for hours is hard.
Budgeting for quality albums that will outlast me when my sons will have nothing left of us but memories is hard.
Choosing the one to hang in my living room is pretty much impossible.
I don’t get to be in any of the pictures I take with my kids, and I know they will miss me. That’s why, when it comes to our big yearly family session, I get help.
So if you need help, and you think you can trust me with these once-in-a-lifetime moments, I’m here for you.
I’m booked through 2016, but contact me to join the 2017 waiting list – there are only a few more opportunities to catch those Spring showers.
Meanwhile – enjoy October, the BEST MONTH OF THE YEAR!
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Names and locations of minors may have been changed to protect privacy. This post may contain Amazon affiliate links (all my 2016 profits fund my do-goodery Invisible Obstacles and Somewhere Out There Series). If you’d like to support do-goodery projects, book your own documentary session or, contribute on Patreon.
Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite rainy-day stories!