Kate Farrell Photography

Williston, VT

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Three Cloudy Day Photo Tips

November is upon us! The days are getting shorter. Stick season is officially here, but the holidays are still a few weeks off. This time of year can feel a bit drab. However, for family photos cloudy days can actually be a lot of fun.

All those clouds open some interesting opportunities if you are willing to try a few new techniques. Open yourself to the possibility that although this might not be your favorite weather, the light will probably be very conducive to storytelling and emotive images.

Stick season is a great time of year to be a young retriever, too!

Cloudy Day Photo Tip #1: Include the Sky!

From a photography perspective, the best part of a cloudy day is often the clouds! They can add texture and mood to an image. Include them to do just that!

Father and daughter walking their dog on a bridge. Family photo in Williston Vermont.
Walks and leash work with Willow are a big part of our routine this fall.

Including the sky provides a sense of scale that reminds us that there is a big world waiting to be explored. While including the sky in landscape photography is obvious, it’s a bit less intuitive in family photography. But dramatic clouds can be the perfect backdrop for photos of whatever your family is doing this fall.

Fiver year old girl planting daffodils. Family photo in Williston, Vermont.
Planting daffodils is an annual tradition for us!

Cloudy Day Photo Tip #2: Chin Up!

Clouds, especially fairly thin ones, provide nice soft light. There are often no shadows at all and certainly no harsh shadows on a cloudy day. This can be a great time to position yourself above your subject and have them look up into the sky. For little ones and adults alike this can be the secret to a beautiful environmental portrait.

If you are doing more candid photography on a cloudy day, wait until your subject naturally looks up just a little bit to capture a flattering image with well light eyes.

Me (Kate Farrell) with my dog (Willow) on a late winter hike.) Family photo in Williston, Vermont.
I handed off my camera to my husband on a rainy day hike early last spring to get this photo of me and Willow. Notice how we are both looking up just a bit to get light in our eyes.

Cloudy Day Photo Tip #3: Try Lots of Angles

I generally like to have a component of light shining on the back of my subject. This is called back lighting. It allows for artful use of light especially when the subject is positioned in front of foliage that gently filters the light. It is the reason I always seek locations with a good view to the west for my evening sessions.

I also, generally, don’t like harsh front light on my subjects, especially for family photography. (High speed action photos are an exception.) Deep shadows and squinting eyes are not what I’m after. So I only front light people in a few circumstances.

A nine year old boy planting daffodil bulbs. Family Photo in Williston, Vermont.
Down low with the big sky in the meadow was the key for this backlit photo of my son planting daffodil bulbs on a fall day with an amazing sky.

Soft light filtered by clouds can be lovely from any angle. So, while I might restrict myself to photographing with my camera facing into the sun on a sunny day, I’ll try a variety of angles on a cloudy day. I hope you will too for your family photos!

Dog photo in Williston, Vermont. A large dog rests in the grass and looks upward quizzically.

While a cloudy day might not inspire you to go for a big hike or run, it is a great time to go outside to play with your camera. And, November tends to provide us with lots of cloudy days so it’s the perfect time to practice these techniques.

Late Fall and Early Winter are Great Times for Family Photos!

Late fall and winter is also a great time for me to photograph your family including your dog. The softer colors are beautiful and for some families the earlier sunsets make scheduling easier. Many families also like to do extended family photos at this time. Reach out today to schedule a session with me.

Wondering about The Best Time of Year for Family Photos? I have a post about that too!

I photograph outdoorsy families of all ages! All of my work is outside and inspired by the Vermont landscape. All families bound by love and respect are welcome behind my lens.

I’m based in Williston, Vermont and work mainly in Chittenden County.

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Kate farrell photography

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Kate Farrell is a professional lifestyle family photographer based in Williston, Vermont, serving the greater Chittenden County area.