What time of day should our portraits be scheduled?

I know I did a whole blog post about what gear I bring with me in my bag, but the most important tool in my toolbox is light. Light is what makes a good photo transform into pure magic. 

Photographers talk a lot about something we call “golden hour” — it’s the hour right after sunrise and right before sunset (so it shifts around depending on the time of year). During this time, the sun is low enough to cast a soft, gentle light over the landscape — it’s not high enough to shine directly and harshly. During this time there is also a delicious warm glow to the light that adds to the magic of the moment. 

This is the time period I schedule my outdoor sessions at, and it shifts around depending on the time of year. In June, sunrise is super early and sunset is super late, so if you have early-to-bed kids, earlier in the spring or a fall shoot might work better for your schedule. If you have a toddler who is up at the crack of dawn every day anyway, a sunrise session is a fantastic way to take advantage of their natural rhythms and get gorgeous light at the same time. For teens who may not get up until what a friend of mine calls “the crack of noon” and are more on the night-owl side of things, a June sunset session is a gorgeous option that works well with when they want to be awake anyway. 

If your session is going to be indoors, we want the most light indoors we can get — because it will be coming in through windows and not directly overhead, we can take advantage of those hours in the middle of the day when outside light is too harsh. Instead of beating down directly on your head, window light comes in at a lovely flattering angle. Indoor sessions are fantastic for families, and for branding sessions. For branding sessions, you can showcase your workspace and enable your clients and customers to get an insider’s view at your company, building trust and enhancing your clients’ understanding of what you do. For families, the home is your center and it can be so incredibly special to capture your family there. 

When I get an inquiry from someone looking for portraits, one of the first things I ask is when during the day will work best for their schedule to have their session, and now you can see why — once we have that settled, we can move on to planning all the other aspects of the session, but it all stems from the light!

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