Preparing for a Summer Photoshoot: Avoid the Louisiana swamp @ss & looking like a mess!
What do you do when you realize you’ve got no choice but to shoot your engagement session (or any session really), in the middle of summer in south Louisiana? You take a huge deep breath, read this blog, pack a change of “caleçons,” and everything will be okay!
Louisiana summers are no joke. Hot is an understatement, but the real problem is the humidity. The right amount of humanity can cause your makeup to run, turn your hair to an afro, and leave you and your fiancé a sweaty puddle. Have you ever tried to damp cuddle with someone in 90-degree heat (#heatstroke) or continually kiss the guy (or girl) you love while they’ve got that nasty upper lip sweat going on (#gag)?
Right, so I never said this blog was going to be the classiest of my blogs; but I hope it will at least be helpful.
Wardrobe & Location
If the summer heat is unavoidable, (you can’t schedule in the spring or fall, and you don’t want to compromise pretty outdoor photos to shoot pretty indoor photos) dressing properly for the weather is essential. Wearing light-colored clothes can help reflect some of the sun's rays. Wearing loose-fitting or flowy dresses will help keep you cool. For the gentleman, it might be a great idea to avoid heavy suits, sport coats, or jackets. Many of my couples like a more formal look but that doesn't mean you have to be miserable either. Complement a nice sleeveless dress with slacks and a classy but lightweight button-down. You also want to consider your backdrop, keeping in mind complementary colors. If you'll be shooting outdoors, there will be lots of green hues all summer long in south Louisiana, and you'll want something that is going to pop. Pink is always a very nice choice. More importantly, bring spares. Men are extremely prone to sweating through their shirts. Having a couple of changes of clothes can keep you feeling clean and dry, and toweling off in the car with each shirt change can help you to feel refreshed.
Choose a location with an indoor option. While not all venues do, some offer air-conditioned greenhouses or bright sitting areas meant to still give you an outdoorsy look but with a breeze. If your location is strictly an outdoor location, pick one with tons of shade, or at least a shaded area where you can take short breaks to cool off.
Hair & Makeup
Not everyone gets a hair and makeup artist from their engagement session. Truthfully, I didn’t five years ago. That being said, if you’re even slightly worried about it, hire a professional. They will have high-quality products that are less likely to melt in the heat. They'll know to use waterproof mascara so you don't look droopy. They'll also be able to help you with a sensible up-do or curls that won't fall flat.
Things to Pack
Summer sessions can be extremely draining because the sun will dehydrate you quickly, especially with all the posing and walking. Make sure to hydrate well before your session, but also bring tons of water. Bringing a Yeti or insulated travel thermos is a must because it will keep your water cool for the duration of your session. If you're fair-skinned and burn quickly, wearing sunscreen is important. Be a little choosy in the brand of sunscreen you use. Avoiding super oily sunscreens that will leave you with a shine. Consider packing towels to dry yourself and coffee filters to dab your face without ruining your makeup. Powder typically cakes on, so I don’t normally recommend it unless it’s “approved” by your makeup artist. Dry shampoo is also a neat trick to revive damp hair - just remember, a little goes a long way. If you, or your fiancé, are extremely prone to sweating, pre-mixing and packing a water cooler filled with Florida water would be a game-changer for your session. It's used by athletes to instantly cool them down and lower their core body temperature.
Have an Assistant
Typically we don't see couples bringing a “third wheel” on their engagement sessions. That is on account of - it’s weird to have witnesses at your cuddle fest. However, photographing in June and July is particularly challenging. It might be super helpful to have someone on hand to lug around your things, fan you like Cleopatra between poses, bring you water, or dampen a towel in the Florida water to pat your neck with for an instant cool down.
Communicate with your Photographer
Engagement sessions are typically pretty intimate. I love getting sweet, candid cuddles out of my couples, but things get heated quickly - and I do mean in the literal sense. If you’re feeling overheated it’s so important to let your photographer know you’re overheated. I recently shot engagements for Ajha and Rylan at Jungle Gardens in New Iberia. Even though we are the beginning of June, it was still considerably hot and after an hour and a half of walking, posing, and cuddling, things got sticky and sweaty.
Ajha did an excellent job of letting me know she was feeling overheated and was worried about how it would translate on camera. That also didn’t mean we had to stop! I reassured her the “show could go on” without them having a heat stroke. We put a little distance between her and Rylan, focusing on pose ideas that gave them a bit of space and even created a little breeze. We opted for a few gorgeous strolls in front of the oaks, did a little dancing to create some wind, and were able to get a variety of stunning shots that didn’t require them to be right on top of one another!
Start your session like any other and then plan to “jump in a lake!” Just putting it out there, I have waterproof gear and would be happy to jump in a pool, pond, creek, or lake along with you, to beat the heat and get some amazing, “in water,” shots; just picture Baby and Patrick Swazye in “Dirty Dancing.” Water photoshoots offer a unique element and they can be incredibly intimate, incredibly playful, or both! While Ajha and Rylan did not get in the water at Avery Island, they did get close and the breeze from the water was enough to make a bit of a difference in the summer sun!
Let this beautiful session be proof that your summer engagement session is not automatically doomed, as long as you plan ahead, talk to your photographer, and let yourself enjoy the experience.