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What is the Best Time of Day for Outdoor Family Photos?

Updated: Aug 4, 2022


Before I started taking photography seriously, I thought midday was the best time for pictures. It made sense to me - it's the brightest time of day, right? Makes sense, right?? Nope! I learned very quickly that I was wrong. You actually want to avoid midday because when the sun is high in the sky, it creates harsh shadows (think raccoon eyes, squinting, etc.). The best time of day to get your outdoor family pictures taken is during golden hour. Golden hour is the last hour before the sun sets and the first hour after the sun rises. Why is this the best time of day for outdoor family pictures? Because that's when the sun is low on the horizon and creates the beautiful, soft, even light all photographers LOVE! It's also when you get those glowy, warm pictures - and why it's called GOLDEN hour. This is especially important for those of us who are natural light photographers, meaning no artificial lighting is used. So I try to schedule most of my sessions during golden hour, or to start about 30 minutes before golden hour starts depending on what location we are using!


However, there are caveats, because I know parents of toddlers and small kids are thinking, "Wait, an hour before sunset in the summer is like 8pm... my kids go to bed at 8?!" There are a couple options to ensure happy kiddos and some work arounds if it's just too late for your small kids.


1. Have your kids take a late nap the day of the session. This will ensure that your child will be able to stay up past their bedtime without a meltdown.


2. Do a morning session! Most people think of sunset when Golden Hour is mentioned, but it's also the hour after sunrise! So, if your little ones do better in the mornings, consider doing a morning session.


3. If you absolutely can't make golden hour work, we can work around your schedule to find a time that works for you! The important factor is choosing the right location - you wouldn't want an open field at 10am or 4pm in the summer, because the sun will be too harsh - but if we choose a location with the right amount of shade and coverage, we can still get beautiful pictures with even lighting. There are lots of location options if a golden hour session just isn't right for your family.


Please enjoy these pictures from a recent session! The session took place at Robin Hill Park in Pittsburgh, PA. There is so much variety in this location, it's so beautiful. We started this session about an hour and a half before sunset, which was perfect because this location offers a lot of shade - which is where we started when the sun was still high. We then moved to more open locations as the sun got lower. The W family was so sweet to work with, and had the cutest baby boy! He was so transfixed with my camera for the whole session. I loved taking meeting them and their pictures. Thank you for letting me take your pictures, W Family!


If you would like more information on a lifestyle family photo session, contact me HERE.




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