Dust storms can be quite scary especially if you have never experienced one before. However, they can actually be super fun to photograph couples in! They occur quite often in the desert so when you are out on a shoot it is best to be prepared. It’s always a good idea to chat with your clients about the possibility of a dust storm rolling in too.
A dust storm is a wall of dust and debris that is blown into an area by strong winds. They can be several miles long and thousands of feet high.
1. Safety! Don’t do anything YOU or the couple is not comfortable with! Keep an eye on what is going on outside and use your weather app to see what to expect. If driving visibility is really low then keep that in mind when thinking about doing a shoot in a storm like this!
Don’t push limits that no one is comfortable with. But if you all feel good about it then I say go for it – just be cautious! Check in with your clients throughout the shoot periodically to make sure they are still comfortable.
2. Bring a bandana or face mask to cover your face for high wind. This can be really fun because it gives burning vibes for sure. Additionally, tell your clients to bring a bandana or mask that is fun, colorful or has a cool pattern or photo on it!
For example, I immediately thought of putting a photo of Desi on a bandana and wearing it to show my dog-loving personality! Bringing sunglasses (or ski googles lol) to cover your eyes is also highly recommended. This can help keep dust out of your eyes while you’re shooting! Bring extra hair ties as you will need to tie your hair back. You don’t want to have to fight your hair to see what you’re doing!
3. Embrace the wind! Don’t fight it. The wind will do it’s own thing and it will be impossible to keep your couple’s hair in place. You will want to communicate this ahead of time to your clients so that they can mentally prepare for what could possibly happen. It’s best to embrace the wind and ride the wildness of it all! It’s honestly so fun and adds so much more movement into your images! Couples can get easily frustrated if they feel uncomfortable or ill-prepared. So try and keep things fun for your couple during a dust storm. This will help distract them from what is happening.
Jim and Lisa are from the North East and came out to Valley of Fire to escape some of the cold! I remember a few days leading up to their session I was checking the weather app for high winds. The spring season in Nevada is when the winds really kick in!
If my weather app says it’ll be windy, it’s usually pretty wild out. I remember getting high wind alerts the morning of Jim and Lisa’s session. Which eventually turned into an emergency alert. I told my couple all the risks that could be involved, but they didn’t want to cancel.
I picked them up and we drove out to Valley of Fire to have our own adventure! When we pulled into the park, it was like a ghost town! There wasn’t a single other car, person, or park ranger in sight! So far, the visibility wasn’t too bad, I could see pretty well, and I was feeling pretty optimistic.
We decided to stop at a bright red canyon and were protected from the winds. There was no one else around so they were able to climb all over the rocks and stand in the road for some photos. Afterwards, we decided to go to where the white rocks are in Valley of Fire which is when we really started to notice a difference in the weather.
We were much more exposed out in the open. As soon as we parked and tried to get out of the car I had to force my door open against the wind! There was no hope keeping our hair in place! The hardest part was just walking against the wind out into the open. It was hard to keep the dust out of our eyes. But these two were 100% down for all the photos and really crushed it! We had so much fun and honestly would love to shoot in these high winds again! Not only that, but the sunset and lighting were FIRE! The dust made the sunset so soft!
I would love to help you plan your desert photoshoot and if we get a dust storm well hopefully now you have an idea of how to come prepared! Reach out here to get started planning your photoshoot!