Direct sunlight in the middle of the day casts the harshest and strongest shadows, resulting in unpleasant squints and dark shadows on faces
The secret to getting the best photos that are easy to edit, paying attention to where the light is hitting my subject. The goal is for the light to be even, soft, and without any harsh shadows.
I like to schedule most of my outdoor family and couple photo sessions within 90 minutes of sunset when the sun is at the lowest point in the sky.
Even when you know the estimated time of day, there are still many factors to consider when picking our golden hour session timing, and a little bit of research is involved for the best results.
Are you going to be in the mountains? An open field? Your location has a lot to do with when the sun rises + sets. The last thing you want to do is travel to your epic location just to find out you lost the best light for photography!
Going to the mountains? I recommend we schedule your photos about 2 hours before sunset. This is because trees + hills block the horizon line and cause you to lose light faster than at a lower elevation.
When using an open field, keep in mind where it is in position to the sun.
General rule is “rises in the east and sets in the west”.
Taking photos in a field, you usually have more daylight to work with since there are no trees or hills to block. This also gives you the freedom to play around with ‘blue hour’ as seen above.
Will it be cloudy? Is it bright and sunny? Calling for rain? Cloudy days are great for diffusing your light, like below. It’s important to keep in mind that you will lose your best light for photography faster than on full sunny days.
Winter in PA we lose the sun fully by 5 PM and in the Summer it’s around until about 8 PM. It’s always good to check when sunset will be for your desired date.
My go-to tools to see when sunset + sunrise will be are: The Weather Channel App or Unscripted – a free tool for photographers that allows you to input your date + it shows you when the golden hour, blue hour, and sunset should be in that location!
There’s only so much dreamy light can save if you have a sleepy child.
When considering the time of day I always make sure to tell my family to plan the photos around the nap times, either a few hours before or shortly after waking up.
Doing so will make sure they are feeling their best + will make the experience more enjoyable for all!
If you don’t love mornings and the kiddos can’t hang till those 8 PM Summer sunsets. Fall (or even a warmer winter day) is ideal for kiddos since the sun will be set by 430 PM in South Central PA. You can schedule your photos for 2:30 PM and get that golden light while still keeping the bedtime routine!
Being a great photographer is knowing how to schedule your sessions for the best light. The other part is knowing how to find that great light once you’ve arrived on location. Most of my locations, aside from clients’ homes and backyards, I’ve photographed countless times before, so I already know well in advance where the light will hit certain areas at certain times.
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I am will to travel all over PA, WV, MD, and beyond for my couples + families! I will be in Pittsburgh this Spring + out West this Summer! You can view more details about booking here. Please inquire for session details and more info on travel photo sessions!