For personal comfort, you'll probably want to don some rain gear before heading out for a day of shooting photos in the rain. But the sad fact is that nobody else will really care whether or not the photographer got wet -- so your real concern should be protecting your camera.
For an SLR (single-lens reflex) or DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, your first line of defense should be a lens hood, which is a 1- to 2-inch plastic device that attaches to the end of the lens. Hoods are used to increase contrast and protect against glare that very bright sun can produce, but they also help to keep water from touching and collecting on the end of the lens [source: Photopoly].
For more serious rain photography, the next form of protection you'll want to use is a custom rain cover. Hundreds of different capes, shades and covers exist to shield your expensive camera equipment from the elements, and you can pay anywhere from 20 bucks to several hundred dollars for them. Some rain covers allow just enough space to get your hands around the body of the camera, while others provide a larger hood that covers your head and shoulders. In a pinch (or if you don't feel like shelling out the money for a custom rain cover), you can jerry-rig your own cover out of a one-gallon plastic bag. Just cut a hole large enough for the end of the lens to poke through, and start shooting. Add a rubber band to keep the bag tight around the camera lens [source: Photography Bay].
Balancing an umbrella while controlling a camera with two hands is no easy task, but umbrellas are still a practical option for keeping both you and your camera dry. Although they may not be the sturdiest, clear plastic umbrellas can be effectively incorporated into your shots. For example, if you're having trouble working in heavy rain, shooting through the transparent plastic will give you an added layer of distortion, while allowing you to get the shot without putting your camera in danger.