The clouds are dark and there's a thunderstorm every afternoon, yet there's a constant hot and muggy feel to the air. Welcome to Florida. Summer is coming.
I remember visiting Amsterdam on a business trip in the winter of 2000. It was cold, foggy and miserable. The thing that caught my attention most was that nobody smiled. Ever. Not a single person I passed in the city smiled.
It's not like I expect everyone in the world to always be joyous, but I've never been in any place before or since where every single person out in pubic looked miserable. Even people in New Jersey smile now and then, and that's the most miserable looking place I've ever been. Factories, smoke stacks, pollution. Yet someone there found a reason to smile.
I couldn't help but ask one of the folks in our office why nobody smiled. He just said, “It's Winter. Come back in the Spring and you'll see people smile.”
Florida doesn't have such extreme Winter conditions, but I think I smile most when it's cool outdoors – all two weeks of winter that we get here. Why? Because it's not sweltering hot and muggy. That gives me reason to smile. Also, because I get to wear a coat and that gives me more pockets. You can't knock having more pockets.
Ever since that trip, I've paid more attention to people's attitudes when out in the weather.
Looking back, I find that I really don't do much portrait work in Winter. Maybe it's because the weather is comfortable for me and I'd rather be out shooting scenery and travel photos. I don't mind lugging my gear around when the weather is cool and crisp.
Everyone Smiles In The Spring
Spring is just a happy time of year. Flowers, puppies and kittens abound. The weather is comfortable most of the time. College kids are on Spring Break. Everyone seems to have some excuse to celebrate.
It's a good time to start venturing back into portraits, but I don't give up on scenery or travel photos. If I'm lucky, I can put the two together and find some nice environmental portraits.
Some people think that Spring is Eternal, but I know the truth. Spring just means that Summer is coming. Hot, muggy, sweaty summer. No wonder it seems that Spring is so short.
Summer is Coming
Let's face it. Seasons change and we can't do a thing about it. I'll get through summer, but it's time to adapt. No more lugging my gear around for scenery. It's time to work on portraits, and for good reason.
First, portraits really don't require a lot of wandering around in the heat. Even if you're shooting outside, you can pretty much pull up to your spot and start shooting with a cooler full of ice cold beverages within reach.
Next, there are plenty of ways to stay cool. Lovely air-conditioned studios are my favorite way, though that can add up cost after a bit. Another strategy is to shoot near the water. Getting in a pool or the ocean, even if it's warm water, is still cooler than sweating anywhere else.
Timing is the key issue, though. The weather routine during the summer in Florida is that the heat builds up through the day and then the storms come in late afternoon. They're generally fast moving, though, and usually clear out before sunset. The result is often good light for portraits around that time, as the clouds diffuse most of the light, but you still get the warm color that comes late in the day.
This photo below came from one of those overcast days. No flash, no harsh sunlight. Just a few raindrops still coming down on a hot day in the pool. It's enough to make folks from Amsterdam smile.
So how do you make the most of your weather?