What is the best time of day for outdoor family photos? This is one of the most common questions I get asked when planning a family shoot outside & a great question! Choosing the right time of day can greatly increase our success & ease of the photo shoot.
Here are a few factors to consider when planning an outdoor family session:
When does the sun rise & set at that time of year?
In winter here in Calgary, it’s dark by 4 pm, so an after dinner shoot is simply not going to work. In the summer – we’ve got hours & hours to play in. As a guideline you’d want to start shooting at least 2-3 hours before sunset.
If there are small kids – what are their nap times?
Cranky, tired kids at a photo shoot is just never a good idea. We’ll work around their nap schedule.
High noon is a terrible time to shoot outside.
Always. As natural light photographers we try to avoid squinty eyes so we’re looking to shoot in the shade or to get the sun at people’s backs. High noon – that’s tough/impossible to find. Generally I prefer be finished a morning shoot by about 11:30 & starting an afternoon shoot after 1pm.
What time of day is the light best at the location you want to use?
I have a brick wall I love to shoot at but I know it faces East & gets the morning sun. I never book a shoot there until after 1:30 pm in the afternoon when I know the sun is no longer harsh on that side of the building. That way I can get soft that lovely soft, even light. Make sure you know where the sun is going to be at shoot time.
The golden hour.
The much favoured light for photographers everywhere. This is the hour before the sunsets where the light shines soft and golden and is simply gorgeous and flattering. The golden hour is also be the hour after the sun rises – but not many family portraits get scheduled at that time of day.