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Picking the Best Time for Your Outdoor Session

Jamie and Dijon pose for their anniversary portrait session.

Photography is all about lighting. And when shooting outdoors there is one light to rule them all--the sun. Sunlight can be one of the most useful and yet the most annoying light of all. However, it all depends on the time of the shoot! Most humans are out and about during the middle of the day. That time right between sleep cycles. But for photography, the best times to shoot are either right before dawn or right before sunset. Let’s dive a little deeper.

The Magic Hour. It’s not just a phrase, it’s an actual term. Golden Time of Day isn’t just a song, it’s a real thing. Shooting closer to Golden Hour provides a number of benefits. The sun is lower in the sky and essentially closer. This provides softer light and long shadows that don’t fall on the face as much. It also provides for better dynamic range. In other words, there will tend to be less overly bright spots and and deep shadows.

The opposite of course is shooting during the middle of the day. Shooting during the middle of the day causes shadows in unflattering places like under the eyes and you may find yourself squinting more than you’d like. There are ways to fight harsh sun, but every photographer may not be suited to handle the task. Sure, even the most novice photographer could have someone using a reflector to get rid of those shadows, but reflectors are what their name implies. They direct sunlight right back into the eye of the subject, again causing squinting. All in all, it’s just bad practice shooting during the middle of the day. Try to avoid it at all costs.

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