Once your family photo session is booked, the first discussion we will have is about the time of the day that will be best to organize your family portraits. Of course a lot of other questions come into mind but this is always the first one. You can check a few of my blogs for more info – what to bring to your photo session, tips for a successful photo session. Of course those questions do not apply if your photo session takes place in my studio!
The most flattering light is 2-3 hours of sunset or sunrise
Whatever the weather there will always be a time of the day when the light is less harsh and more flattering. Of course overcast days will leave us a lot more flexibility.
In case of sunny days, I always suggest organizing your family photo session either early morning or late afternoon. Depending on the season and on where the session takes place that time will change. Each month is different! But as a rule, the best time of day to organize a family photo session is within 2-3 hours of sunset or sunrise. These are called « Golden hours ». At that time the light is less harsh as the sun’s rays are less intense.
That is why, the first thing I check (I love www.timeanddate.com for that) is – depending in your session date – at what time will be the sunrise and the sunset. I then check the weather every day the week before our session.
What if that time of the day is not an option
The worst light of the day is when the light comes from overhead, so basically when you approach midday in either direction. This creates unflattering harsh and strong shadows where we don’t wait to see them, under the eyes and the nose.
That is why I never organize sessions when the sun is very high. Other that that, taking photos will the more difficult, but absolutely not impossible! You simply need to know the limitations of that type of light, and find ways to work around it.
Select a location with open shade
My first priority during your session is finding a place with nice, open shade. It ensures that your family won’t be squinting, and the light hitting you will be soft and beautiful.
If the transition between light and shadow is harsh and ugly, the easy solution is to go somewhere that is pure shadow. My favorite sources of shade are large trees and sides of buildings.
I know most of the locations I shoot at – aside from clients’ homes and backyards – very well. I know in advance where the light will hit certain areas when.
If the session is organized in your front or back yard, I will ask you to check when it is in the shade to determine the time of our session.
Staying in even light
The next thing I look at is keeping you in beautiful, even light. If there are any trees around that are casting spotty light over the shaded area, I’ll work to get your family away from those hot spots and into complete shade with even light. Those pesky spots can be quite distracting in photos, so I’ll do my best to eliminate that to keep the focus on you.
There are always exceptions! If your session takes place in an urban environment, we will easily find open shade and reflective surfaces whatever the time. On the opposite end of the flexibility scale, if you are on the beach you will have to select golden hours for your session.
Your family experience comes first
What time of day are your kids generally at their happiest and most interactive? When is their tummies full and they’re feeling rested? The answer to those questions will determine the perfect time for your family photo session. If you have more than one kid, choose the time based on your youngest one.
At the end of the day, the location you choose, the time of the session and the outfits you wear won’t matter nearly as much as the fun we have together and the memories you create. The decisions you make will definitely enhance your photos, but the most important is the experience you have and the joy you share. It is what will make the biggest difference in your photos anyway.
My first objective is for us to have a great, joyful and memorable time together. I want you to smile each time you look at your pictures remembering the great experience you had as a family!
Here are some other blog posts that might interest you: