How to Deal With The Heat of Summer Photoshoots

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When summer heat comes around, it’s easy to glory in the sunshine and forget about keeping safe. Photoshoots can be pretty hot and sweaty at the best of times, especially when you bring in lights or jump around. It’s so important that you take care of both your clients and yourself during the summer to prevent the heat from affecting your health. These tips will help you deal with the heat and carry on shooting as if it was the mildest of days!

Photo by Larisa Birta

Photo by Larisa Birta

Planning the Shoot

Make sure that you take plenty of precautions before you start to shoot. The first thing that you need to do is to take care of planning. If the weather is seriously hot, you might want to plan to shoot in an indoor location or in the shade. You can also choose the time of day carefully – avoid midday when the sun is at its peak, and go for the early morning or evening. At these times, the lighting will also be spectacular, so it’s a win-win situation. If there is no option but to shoot at midday in the outdoors, make it clear to your client that you will need to take frequent breaks or have a shorter session time than normal. If you are doing a family portrait, advise them that pets should be left at home – a dog can easily overheat while sitting in the sun and waiting for the session to finish. Be very careful when shooting with babies and small children, too, as they can be more susceptible to the heat than you might expect.


Preparing for the Shoot

Next up, it’s time to get ready on the day of the shoot. Drink a bottle of water before you go out, as this will prevent you from getting dehydrated so quickly. Stock up on water as well, keeping a number of bottles in your car or your bag, and cover them as much as possible so that they are not heated by the sun. You can put them in the freezer for 30 minutes or so before going out to keep them cool for longer. Take a look at your clothing: even though you want to appear professional, a suit isn’t the best attire to wear in the heat. Think about wearing a hat to protect your head, and roll up your sleeves. Linen is a great fabric for staying cool.

You can also take a moment to think about your hair. Male photographers may wish to get a haircut and keep it short during the summer, while women can tie their hair up to keep cooler. Make sure to pass on the best advice to your clients, such as drinking water before setting out, and put on suntan lotion as well to prevent burning. You could also consider paring down your kit – if you don’t need everything you were thinking of taking, leave it at home. This will lighten your load and prevent you from getting tired out too quickly as you move your equipment around.


During the Shoot

No matter how good your preparation may be, you also need to take care during the shoot. Keep drinking that water – if you start to feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so don’t just ignore it and keep going. Avoid salty snacks, but do take some food along with you for a nibble every now and then – fresh fruit are great for hydrating you and providing energy at the same time. If you start to feel like you are overheating, use icepacks or your water bottles to cool yourself down by pressing them against your wrist or neck for half a minute.

What else can you do to cool down? Get into the shade where possible, and use a small handheld fan to create a breeze if there isn’t one naturally. When your hands are full with the camera, you could ask an assistant to hold one up. Make sure that you and your clients both top up the lotion as there’s no use in having a set of portraits where your clients’ skin gradually gets redder and redder. You should also try to avoid using portable studio lights if shooting outdoors as they can generate a lot of extra heat. If you do manage to shoot indoors, keep the windows open or turn on the air conditioning so that clients coming in from outdoors can cool down.


After the Shoot

When you finish for the day, there’s still some aftercare to do. Make sure to continue drinking water so that you do not get dehydrated as you arrive home or back to your studio. Use aftersun on your skin, especially if you think that you might have gone a little red. Cool down as soon as possible and even consider getting changed if you are too hot. If you really feel that you are beginning to suffer, you can head home for a cool shower. However, don’t turn it on freezing cold or try standing in front of the freezer for a while – your body has to gradually adjust back down to a normal temperature in order to keep you healthy and avoid side effects.


There’s no such thing as being too careful, especially where heat is concerned. If you were to suffer from heatstroke or painfully burned skin, you could end up having to take a few days off work, which will hit your bottom line. If your clients suffer from exposure to the sun, you could even face a lawsuit in extreme cases. It’s your duty to make sure that everyone on set is comfortable and not suffering any ill effects.