How to Prep for Mountain Weather: Roan Mountain Engagement Session

Couples & Engagements

September 4, 2023

As a North Carolina Wedding photographer, I’m always up for an adventure, but when we planned for this engagement session at Roan Mountain, I had no idea just how much of an adventure it would turn out to be. On the drive to the mountain, the forecast was less than ideal with dark, looming storm clouds. Of course the day had been absolutely clear prior, but the time leading up? Bring on the rain!

BUT little did we know that this session would transform into one of the most memorable and stunning shoots I’ve ever experienced.

And this is why the mountains and it’s crazy weather is always worth the chance.

Preparing for the Unpredictable Mountain Weather

Mountain weather can be notoriously unpredictable, and Roan Mountain is no exception. So, how do you prepare for a photo session in such conditions? Here are some tips to ensure you’re ready for whatever nature throws your way:

  1. Check the Weather: Before heading to the mountains, check the weather forecast thoroughly. However, keep in mind that mountain weather can change rapidly, so be prepared for unexpected surprises.
  2. Layer Up: Dress in layers, as temperatures can vary significantly, especially at higher altitudes. Ensure you and your subjects are comfortable throughout the shoot.
  3. Rain Gear: Always carry waterproof clothing and gear. Pack rain jackets, umbrellas, (though I carry clear ones with me in case!) Even if it doesn’t rain initially, it’s better to be safe than sorry. PLUS the mountains are always much cooler to begin with, so I always encourage my couples who pick mountain spots to bring a jacket no matter what. Once the sun drops, it gets cold quickly!
  4. Hiking Clothes + Footwear: Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots or shoes are essential for navigating wet and uneven terrain. A lot of my couples will wear hiking clothes up, and change in my pop up tent on top of the mountain.
  5. Props and Accessories: Consider bringing props like blankets, a thermos of hot cocoa, or colorful umbrellas to add a unique touch to your photos and keep everyone comfortable.

Embracing the Storm

On the day of the engagement session, we arrived at Roan Mountain to a scene straight out of a stormy movie. Dark clouds hung low, (which made for the most moody fog – aka my favorite!) and raindrops pelted the landscape. While most people might have rescheduled, the adventurous spirit of Morgan + Ryan and my hope for the rain to let up soon, led us to continue. It was raining hard, not storming and that was the main difference.

Shooting in the Rain

Don’t be deterred by rain during your engagement session; instead, use it to your advantage. Rain can create a romantic and intimate atmosphere, making for some of the most memorable photos. Here are some bonuses for shooting in the rain:

  1. Use Natural Light: Rain can diffuse light beautifully, creating soft, flattering illumination. Embrace the softness of the overcast conditions. PLUS it adds do much to a cinematic look.
  2. Reflective Surfaces: Puddles and wet surfaces can create stunning reflections. Experiment with angles to capture unique shots.
  3. Fog: If you don’t know me, mountain fog is one of my favorite things in the world. And it usually follows rain.

The Unbelievable Turn of Events

As we continued our session in the rain, something magical happened. The storm clouds began to disperse, and a burst of sunlight pierced through the gray, creating the most lovely rainbow I had ever seen at Roan. I joke that I have a “rainbow sense” and I told Morgan and Ryan on the way up that it was tingling…the conditions were unbelievably perfect. So when I turned and saw it, I am sure you could have heard my screech of joy from the other mountain. 😉

Chasing the Sunset

But the surprises didn’t end there. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the skies transformed into a breathtaking canvas of colors. What had started as a stormy day turned into the most brilliant sunset, casting a warm, golden glow over the couple as they embraced against the mountain backdrop. It felt like 3 shoots in one; we could not believe it. And this is why over and over I stand behind mountain shoots and taking a chance on the weather…you just never know the absolute magic that can come from it!

Final Thoughts

This engagement session at Roan Mountain was a testament to the unpredictability and beauty of mountain weather. While the mountains can bring challenging conditions, they can also reward those who venture into the unknown with unforgettable moments and stunning photographs.

So, whether you’re planning an engagement session, elopement or any other photography adventure in the North Carolina mountains, remember to be prepared, embrace the elements, and be ready. You never know when nature will surprise you with a rainbow or a brilliant sunset, turning a potentially stormy day into a magical memory that will last a lifetime.

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Georgia based adventurer photographer