You’ve picked your photographer and you’re deciding on an outdoor location. Now the next question is: What time should you schedule photos? In this post I’ll discuss some of the variables you definitely want to consider when picking the time to start your photography session.
1. It’s all about that golden hour light.
We photographers can get a little over enthusiastic when talking about “the light”. However, finding good light is what makes or breaks a photo. Good light is light that is even and soft, flattering to the subject. Bad light is light that is harsh, direct, and unflattering to the subject.
The easiest time to find good light outside is during the “golden hours“, the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. At these times, the sun is low in the sky and filters through trees and architecture to create long shadows and soft, glowy light. In contrast, when the sun is directly overhead, near noontime, the light is harsh. You will find yourself squinting (not a cute look) and you’re more likely to have shadows under your eyes, nose, and chin (also not a cute look).
2. Consider the direction of the light.
When placing clients, I almost always want your back to the sun. Again, facing direct light has a way of highlighting all of our wrinkles and blemishes and is downright uncomfortable for our eyes. When the light is at your back, it can softly envelop you instead. This method is called “back lighting”. (Side note: I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has tried to persuade me that I should have my subject facing the sun instead. Back in the day of point-and-shoot cameras, you ran the risk of having your subject appear dark in the picture if the sun was to his/her back. My camera allows me to choose my own settings, so I don’t have to worry about this.)
Why am I telling you all of this? Because, if you have a specific background for your image in mind, such as a bridge or even your house, you will want to schedule your session for the time of day when the sun would be behind you and that architectural/landscape feature. This is really important information to communicate with your photographer so that I can help you time the session correctly.
3. When young children’s sleep schedules pose a conflict.
Okay. So you may be thinking, “This is all well and good, but in the summer the sun sets at 9PM and that’s way too late for my young children to be up.” This is a valid concern for many young families that has to be considered. Some kiddos do fine taking a later nap and being pushed past their normal bedtimes for a special occasion. But if your child is not that way, my advice is to consider scheduling your session in the fall or winter when the sun sets much earlier. If you session must happen in the summer, always schedule the session as early/last as possible. Stay as far away from noon as you can. We may have to work together to find a location that will provide us with adequate shade. Please, please just don’t ask me to photograph you in a wide open field at 12:30pm. You won’t be happy with the results.
I hope you’ve found this helpful when trying to answer the question of what time should schedule photos for the best results. I am always more than happy collaborate with my clients to set up a session that works for them and brings their vision to life. Now let’s get a session on the calendar! More details about sessions with me can be found here. To schedule a family session with me, find my contact form here.