Modifier or Emergency Device?
Most photographers and models are familiar with the umbrella as a light modifier. It certainly has been around for many years and one of the easiest to use and quickest device to set up. Yet, not everyone considers it an emergency rescue device.
During the summer months the sun can get very intense in certain areas of the country. While some people can bask in the sun for hours and enjoy every minute, some people are sensitive to the direct sun even for as little as an hour. Location photographers should be aware that some venues allow very little in the way of shade from the sun. This can lead to serious problems such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion is usually characterized by excessive sweating, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and cramping. While this can be serious enough, Heat Stroke can be life threatening. Heat stroke occurs when the body cannot cool itself any longer with symptoms often starting as heat exhaustion but progressing to the victim stop sweating and the body temp rising rapidly up to 105 degrees or higher in as little as 20 minutes.
During the summer months some important things to think about for location photographers include bringing extra bottles of water on each shoot. A 60 inch umbrella can be purchased from a seller such as B&H for as little as $23.00. Some umbrellas come with a black covering to block out the sun entirely, or just a white covering to act as a diffuser. An umbrella this size is more than large enough for a few people to huddle under if necessary. An extra step would be to mount it on a lightstand (with sandbags) so that it need not be hand held.
While we are at it, consider also including an emergency rain poncho in your day kit. These can be often had for $10 or less at most department stores. Why end up on the shoot on a soggy note?