Shooting on Cloudy Days

Travel images are (almost always) about showing off locations with bright sunshine to make it inviting for the potential buyer, but are there situations when showing cloudy places will be lucrative? I’ll explore these themes in this blog post.

Travel images = Sunny locations (most of the time)

As you’ve probably gathered by now, this is an unconventional blog full of experimentations. I believe that I get more right than wrong and even when I’m wrong, I try to make it right…if that makes any sense. Anyway…

Sell-able Sun

From my experience, as a travel photographer, cloudy/rainy shots of landmarks generally struggle to sell. As a general rule of thumb, if you arrive at your location and the weather is crap, aim to shoot indoors (markets, museums, restaurants, retail spaces, etc).

Time Out Market is a popular food hall located in Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre in Lisbon, Portugal
Head indoors on bad weather days. Captured at Time Out Market, Lisbon

However, there are exceptions…

Hurricane / Cyclone Leslie

The arrival of Hurricane Leslie to Portugal was big news last week and unsurprisingly emergency authorities were expecting the worst. I figured I might as well get some shots of the nearby beach just became it made landfall. Duly submitted them to REX Features and Alamy Live News, not really expecting  much.

The freak storm came and went without much damage to property and with a few dozen people hurt. I checked my name on google and was surprised to see it featured on Time Magazine as a cover image…obviously huge circulation in many languages. Here’s the image:

Time Magazine Article: Cyclone Leslie Injures 27 as It Slams Into Coast of Portugal

Not sure how much I’ll be paid for this Rights-Managed license but should be more than usual pittance I’ve generally become accustomed in the past years. Frustratingly, it’s been shared by copy-cat sites all over the world and of course I’m not expecting further payments. It’s all part of the game.

As for the settings above, in case you’re curious: 24mm, ISO 50, F14, 1.6 seconds

Weather as live news

You may be interested to know that if you do encounter freak weather, you may submit such images to Alamy Live News. Helps if you live in the UK. It all has to do with the British obsession with weather and strangely enough, these types of images feature frequently in UK newspapers.

alamy live news weather

Sunny Lisbon (?)

Continuing on with the theme of cloudy/stormy pics…Leslie predictably left behind a low-pressure system. I was out and about in Lisbon yesterday dealing with some personal issues and of course (!) took my gear with me, as I always do.

As mentioned earlier, I tend to stick to avoiding shooting when days are completely overcast as colours look blah, no contrast and just not so commercial for stock purposes.

However, Lisbon happens to be one of the regions in Europe with the most amount of sunshine-hours per year, average of 2799 hours to be exact vs 1410 hours in grey London (no wonder there’s so many pubs):

Europe_sunshine_hours_map (1)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

So a quick search of Lisbon will see 1,000s upon 1,000s of sunny pics. Sunny days are the rule, not the exception. One has to be a really unlucky tourist to arrive in Lisbon, stay for a few days and not see the sun with blue sky.

sunny lisbon
Search for most popular “Lisbon” images at Shutterstock

Shooting the opposite of the competition

I remember putting together a blog post on why shooting at night can be more profitable, only because there is less competition. Here’s a small excerpt:

“If everybody is shooting similar subjects at golden hour, you’re going to struggle if you decide to shoot the same subject, unless you do something extraordinary like use a model.”

Using the same logic, if everybody is shooting sunny places, if someone searches for that place in bad weather your image may be ranked close to the top? Worth a try in the spirit of experimentation…

Some examples

Enough blahblahblah, here’s an example of the 25 April Bridge and Rei Cristo Monument in all it’s misty glory I captured yesterday. Any value? Time will tell…

ISO 50, F13, 1/2 second

Two for Fine Art Book Covers

These days lend themselves more to creating fine art imagery (including b&w) and I put these together for those purposes, using long exposures and heavy filters (resolution is bad to avoid thieves downloading from this blog):

25 abril
Image on left is available as a canvas at Photo4me

Terrific Timelapse

The value as a stock image is questionable, but as usual, I went ahead and put together a 12 minute timelapse shrunk into 8 seconds for a more dramatic sequence. I liked how the Cristo Rei was going from covered to uncovered by the mist. My intention was to make it longer but it started raining heavily.


Another Angle of the Cristo Rei

Up the hill in the Alcantara district, I found a nice angle on top of an overpass where I had a clear view of the monument with flowing traffic…perfect setting for a timelapse as the sun was setting and I could push for longer shutter speeds. Note to self is to keep horizons straight.




That’s it folks…if you find yourself at a travel destination and it’s completely overcast and drizzly, all is not lost. Hope with the tips above you can make the best of a bad situation.

Wishing you all a nice weekend

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’m determined not to waste my life away as a corporate drone and have devoted five years to making it as a travel photographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others before it’s too late.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography

Check out my new photo review service, where I’ll help take your images to the next level and get them sold regularly!

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