Spring is a lovely time of year, but it is prone to the occasional thunderstorm and rain shower. Our area typically receives a large portion of our annual rainfall in April, May, and June. Of course, bad weather comes at all times of year, sometimes unexpectedly, but this is a good season for us to discuss our bad weather policies and suggestions.

Why does weather matter?

Real estate photography’s main purpose is to attract attention and draw in potential buyers. Whether those images are used online, in flyers, or on magazine covers, the primary goal is to present beautiful images that entice the buyer to schedule a showing, and hopefully purchase the property. We suggest that our clients stop and re-examine that end goal before making a decision about whether or not to shoot on bad weather days.

Good photography is all about good light. When there are clouds in the sky, the sunlight is diffused and colored differently than on a sunny day. On cloudy days, even when it’s bright enough for sunglasses, the main thing missing is contrast and shadows. With direct, unobstructed sunlight, we get nice sharp contrast which provides good edges and a more three-dimensional look to the photograph. Good contrast also provides richer colors.

Here are some exterior photos taken on cloudy days versus sunny days:

Exterior shot on a cloudy day.

A landscape photo shot on an overcast day. Lack of color and contrast.

A residential exterior on a sunny day. Even without seeing much of the sky, you can see the difference in contrast, sharpness, and dimension provided by the shadows.

Landscape photo taken on a nice sunny day. Lots of color, contrast, and dimension.

Interior photos are also characterized by the light outside. When the sun is bright, it beams into the windows of the home, shaping the light that reaches the interior, and again providing shadows and contrast, enhancing the architectural features. And if we can see out the windows, it’s good to have a nice blue sky and good contrast for that view.

The last issue has to do with interior photography, too. That is, if it’s actually so cloudy or rainy that it’s dark outside, you have this effect where the windows reflect the interior light rather than allowing us to see outside. That’s not good for two reasons: one, you can’t see what’s out the windows, and two, it tends to reflect the photographer and his lights, which must be photoshopped out later at added expense.

Here are some examples of interior photos shot on a cloudy or rainy day versus a sunny day. Note the drastic differences:

Interior on a rainy day. Notice the interior lights reflecting in the windows.

Interior photo taken on a nice sunny day.

What do we do if it’s cloudy or rainy?

We always want to be mindful of the weather forecast. If we know in advance about potential rain or clouds, we can attempt to reschedule or rearrange things before your shoot. Or, we can wait until the day of your shoot and see if the weather improves.

However, it’s always up to the client. You have to decide whether or not we keep your appointment or postpone. You’re the one with deadlines, contact with the sellers, and other considerations to keep in mind. So although we will advise you and help you make a decision, the ultimate decision is yours.

We will make decisions regarding the safety of our equipment and our travel. If it’s too wet, we can’t expose our gear to the elements. Same goes for high winds when using the drone. And if it’s flooding or has a likelihood of flooding or other extreme weather, we reserve the right to refuse service on that day.

Do we reschedule, or how does that work?

If a decision is made to postpone, we immediately add your listing to our “standby” list. That list is for clients who’ve been rained out, and we contact folks on that list as soon as we have a cancellation to see if we can re-shoot during that cancelled appointment slot.

We can also reschedule you to our next available appointment time. However, be advised, if we do that, it can be several weeks before we have an official opening on the calendar.

We can also do both… add you to the next available, and add you to standby. This is our recommendation to you.

Is that really fair? I’ve been waiting a long time already.

This seems to be the most judicious course of action that we have found. Bad weather is a fact of life, and there’s not much we can do about it. It’s just a roll of the dice. And I’m sure you wouldn’t want your appointment moved on a nice day because yesterday’s client was rained out, would you? So we don’t do that to our other clients, either. We’ll do our very best to get you rescheduled just as soon as possible, which includes scheduling our time on the weekends when we can.

What about sky replacement?

For still photos, we offer two free sky replacements per listing on cloudy days. A sky replacement is an editing method that removes the overcast sky and replaces it with one of our “stock” sky images. See the before and after sample below.

If you need more than two sky replacements, we charge $5 per image after that.

“Before” sky replacement.

“After” sky replacement.