We live in a very windy city. You know it, I know it, the landscape shows it. So how do you survive the windiest photo shoot (and I'm talking like 50km/h+ winds here!) and get stunning photographs that still tell your beautiful and unique story? Today I'm going to share with you my top 3 favourite ways to use the wind in Southern Alberta to create breathtaking images that you're going to love for a lifetime. And I'm going to use my recent engagement shoot with Karli and Joel to help highlight exactly what I'm talking about.
So Karli and Joel had done a photo session with me a few years ago, booked me for their wedding, and then we played the waiting game with Covid-19 wedding plans and how unpredictable that whole experience could be. They were wise and decided on a date in 2022, thus ensuring they could have the type of wedding they dreamed of, without restrictions and surrounded by all of their family and friends.
For their engagement shoot we had discussed going to the mountains, however if you can tell by now, they like a sure bet, and with the weather being so moody in the mountains in late winter, they decided they would rather stay close to home. Plus they wanted to get their photos in time to send out on their wedding invitations, so February was the latest we could shoot their session.
Well, wouldn't you know it, February was the windiest month we've had in a while. On the day of their session the winds were a steady 37km/hr and gustting much, much higher than that. The photographer I used to be would have said, "hmm maybe we should reschedule. It's brisk, it's windy as hell, it might be impossible to get great photographs." But lucky for these guys, I spent the entire pandemic up-leveling my photography and learning exactly how to embrace situations like these, and now I even look forward to them!
Have a non-windy starting point
So how did I overcome and embrace this windy February day? Well first of all, I chose multiple locations for their photos. We began their session in this quaint pine forest just on the edge of town that was wind-sheltered. This was so I could get the typical photos that they might want to include on their wedding invitation. I knew once I had those photos complete, the wind could mess up Karli's absolutely beautifully done hair, and maybe even make their eyes water a bit, and it would be totally fine. Then, once we captured those photographs, and Karli and Joel (and their super cute doggo Wilfred) were warm and comfortable with me, I could ask them to step a bit outside of their comfort zone and into some wild winter wind.
I initially planned to take them to a secondary location that was close by, but we had a bit more time to get to a further, more stunning, secondary location, and when I explained this to them, they were totally on board to drive a bit further to get some amazing shots. So they followed me for about 10 minutes, to the edge of the coulee's, and to honestly probably one of the most windy locations in the city on that day. That's why I love building relationships with my clients because when they trust me, we can make magic happen!
Find accessories and pieces that dance in the wind
When we got to the spot, Karli hadn't expected it to be so chilly, so I gave her a blanket to wear while we hiked to the coulee's edge. She decided to wear Joel's coat instead, and he wore the blanket. I looked back at him while we were walking, with the wind whipping the blanket behind him, making him appear so majestic, and thought to myself, "yup, this is going to be magnificent." Bringing the blanket was entirely on purpose, because I knew it would photograph so beautifully in the wind. It's the right weight and style to billow and create movement in photographs. I've learned you need to plan for the wind and bring things that dance in it.
This doesn't have to be a blanket, it could be a shawl, a shacket, a light scarf, a long flowy piece of material, your dress. The options really could go on, but just know there are options!
So why this second, further location? Well the reason I chose this location, even though it was definitely windier than other spots I could have chosen, is because it was going to be windy no matter what. I decided I may as well use a location that's going to provide a breathtaking backdrop because Karli's hair was going to be windswept anyways, and Joel's hood was going to blow up onto his head anyways, so why not embrace a place that made you feel something, even just to be standing on the land taking in all it's beauty. If you want breathtaking photographs, you need to go to breathtaking places.
When we got right to the edge of the coulee, there was a little spot that I wondered if Karli and Joel would be down to hike to, because I knew it would help create some of the most incredible images I could imagine for this location. It was a bit far, and there was some snow, and if you were in any way afraid of heights, it would've been a no-go. However, they are some of the most willing and playful people I've ever met, and when I mentioned it they enthusiastically said, "of course we will!"
I could not stop smiling while they were hiking up to the peak, knowing full well that when I got to show them what I saw, they were going to be speechless, just like I was as I was photographing them.
Use the wind to bring you and your loved ones closer
My entire mentality for this engagement shoot was just to show the strength and depth of their love for one another. These are two people who have begun the process of committing their lives to one another. They are each other's best friends, confidants, soul mates. They really are the yin to the others yang. So by photographing them in the wind, what I was really doing was causing them to do what they do best: look out for one another, and keep each other warm. I love using the wind to bring you and your loved ones physically closer together, to keep each other cozy and warm. I love using the wind to tell those emotional parts of your story that are only understood through movement of your hair, your clothing, and your accessories.
After I photographed them with the sun setting, we entered into Blue Hour (the hour after Golden Hour), and I captured a few more photographs on our walk back to our vehicles. I thanked them for trusting me, and for being brave enough to weather the wind together. I noticed on our walk back that they walked closer to one another than on the walk there, and I secretly smiled because I knew that that's the power of human connection. When we feel the warm embrace of someone who loves us completely, we tend to stay close to them long after the embrace is over.
So Karli and Joel, if you're reading this, thank you for your spontaneity and willingness to do the unexpected. I think that trait in both of you is going to take you so far together in life, and I can not wait to photograph your journey to those places.