Is Cloudy Good For Pictures? (Creative Photography Tips For Cloudy Days)

When you’re heading outdoors to take photographs, you need the weather to be on your side. The wrong weather can ruin a background and destroy the light, making it difficult to capture enticing images.

Is Cloudy Good For Pictures? (Creative Photography Tips For Cloudy Days)

When the sky is covered in clouds, you might assume it’s better to leave the camera at home. But clouds can actually be a welcome sight for photographers!

By diffusing the sunlight and creating a softer image, an overcast sky is perfect for portrait photography. And it isn’t just portraits that can benefit from cloud coverage.

Want to keep shooting even when the clouds roll in? Use these tips to capture creative photographs on cloudy days.

Tips For Capturing Exciting Images On Cloudy Days

It is possible to take excellent photos whatever the weather. If you’re struggling to shoot on a cloudy day, use these tips to enhance your images.

1. Embrace Portrait Photography

When the clouds have come over, it might be the perfect opportunity to have a go at portrait photography. An overcast sky means a diffused light. Perfect for flattering portraits.

With the clouds softening the effect of the sun, you can avoid harsh lines across the face. Strong light has a habit of picking up every detail, which isn’t always welcome in portrait photography.

The natural diffusion of the clouds creates gentle shots. Plus, with the glare of the sun muted, you have room to play with poses.

Bright sunlight leads to dark shadows and uncomfortable squinting. When the light is diffused, there’s potential to take advantage of your surroundings.

2. Shoot The Subject From Above

When shooting on a cloudy day, you want to ensure you get enough light in your photographs. This is extra important when it comes to portrait photography. Without enough light, your subject can look flat and unengaged.

Shooting from above, with your subject looking up, adds quick catchlights. The light from the sky will bring a soft sparkle to the eyes. Either ask your subject to sit, or position yourself on a stool.

3. Consider Leaving The Sky Out Of Your Composition

A cloudy sky can be ideal for exciting photography. Storm clouds can add drama to a scene, while a scattering of soft white clouds brings depth to a blue sky. However, an overcast sky tends to be flat.

It will often blow out, turning white or pale gray in your final photograph. Instead of increasing the drama, it will throw off the entire composition.

Leaving the sky out entirely means you won’t have to worry about adding depth to a flat scene. Consider pulling the focus in tighter, cutting the sky from the frame.

4. Or Blow Out The Sky For A Clean Background

Is Cloudy Good For Pictures? (Creative Photography Tips For Cloudy Days)

An overcast sky doesn’t always mean your landscape photos are ruined. Instead, this simple blank canvas can allow the focus of your shot to really pop. By blowing out the sky — creating a basic gray background — you draw the eye straight to the focal point.

This works well with portrait photography, but it can also benefit landscape, architectural, and decor photography. Instead of creating an interesting background to balance your shots, draw all the attention forward.

5. Add Color Through Props

Bright colors can shine on an overcast day. They’re ideal for making your photography sing, creating areas of interest within the composition. A few splashes of bright color can turn a drab day into an enticing photo (see also “What’s The Best Time To Take Photos Outside?“).

With portrait photography, the easiest way to add color is through clothing. With other types of photography, you might need to look a little harder to find these bright spots.

6. Look For Natural Reflectors

You can use your environment to increase or decrease the amount of light in your photos. This will also add directional light, which can help increase depth.

Look for brighter areas within your composition. For example, a stone floor can be a great source of light. On a damp day, puddles and bodies of water can also add a brightening effect.

Place your subject next to this natural reflector, and your picture will have more light bouncing around. Of course, you can always use your own reflectors to create light on a cloudy day.

Use a white or silver reflector to bounce back the diffused light. Place the reflector at an angle towards the subject, for the best effect. The opposite is also possible — use dark areas to remove the light from the composition. This is an excellent way to soften glare.

7. Adjust The Camera Settings

You need your camera to work with you on a cloudy day. A quick adjustment to the settings can ensure you’re making the most of the overcast lighting.

The first setting to adjust is sensitivity. Increasing the ISO value allows the sensors to capture more of the light, ensuring your images are still bright and clear. On a cloudy day, the ISO should be between 400 and 800.

A longer exposure also helps capture more of the light. Increase the shutter speed to brighten your shots. If you’re struggling to get steady shots with a longer exposure, consider adding a tripod.

Finally, you might want to open up the aperture. Again, this allows the camera to capture more light. However, you will lose some depth of field. Play around to see what works for your image.


Just because the clouds have come out doesn’t mean your camera has to go away. An overcast day can actually be a benefit for photographers, particularly if you’re shooting portraits.

Work with the sky to create dramatic images, or cut it out altogether for a soft finish. How do you like to use the clouds in your photography?

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Clouds Good For Photography?

Clouds can be excellent for photography, provided you use them right. A light scattering of clouds can add depth to an image, but an overcast sky is harder to work with.

Make sure to increase the ISO so more light is captured. The diffused light of an overcast sky is particularly good for portrait photography.

Should I Use Flash On A Cloudy Day?

Flash can add drama to your cloudy day photography. Lower the ambient exposure and turn on the flash to create moody and intense images. This works particularly well when the clouds have color, rather than a flat gray.

Laura McNeill
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