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Street Photography in the Rain: 3 Lessons Learned

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I really love the combination of street photography and rain, since rain changes the mood and the city completely. As a result, the most mundane things turn into drama, mystery, and poetry. Here are 3 lessons I’ve learned about shooting in the rain.

1. The most important piece of gear: an umbrella

The simplest (yet game changing) tip I ever got about photographing in the rain: get an umbrella. Many thanks to Digby Fullam of streethunters.net for that one.

It really seems so obvious. An umbrella offers basic protection for yourself and more importantly your gear. So I made an umbrella part of my essential photography gear, just like spare batteries or a spare memory card.

And I can attest: It is not only much more pleasant to shoot in the rain when you are under an umbrella, you get better images as well. Being protected allows for more calmness and time when framing a photograph.

Me and my umbrella. Photo © Uwa Scholz
Me and my umbrella. Photo © Uwa Scholz

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2. An affordable camera

I recently wrote why I think the Ricoh GR is the best camera for street photography. But another reason I like the Ricoh GR is that it is very affordable.

I can get a second hand one for as low as 400€ or USD, so I’m very ok putting the camera in harm’s way. Also, the Ricoh GR has proven to be able to take quite a bit of rain. I have seen too many street togs fold when rain was setting in because their camera was too expensive or too sensitive.

3. The importance of light

Finding interesting light is especially relevant when it comes to street photography and rain. At the same time it is also the most challenging task as rain usually comes with dull light.

If you’re really lucky, there are both rain and sunshine, but city lights, car lights, and neon lights can all provide great light sources. Even if the light is dull, reflections on the ground or in puddles can enhance the image immensely—it worked well for Henri Cartier-Bresson when he took his famous puddle jump image.

Shot against the sun
Shot against the sun
Same location: sun from behind
Same location: sun from behind

Street Photography and Rain: Drama

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Street Photography and Rain: Mystery

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Street Photography and Rain: Neon Nights

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About the author: Martin U Waltz is a Berlin-based photographer, digital marketer, and a founding member of the berlin1020 street photography collective. You can find more of his work on his website, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

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