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Many people book their shoot thinking that the afternoon would be the best time to shoot since there is plenty of sunlight, but this is actually one of the worst times for an outdoor session.
The afternoon light from the sun is often harsh and strong which causes unflattering shadows. While diffusers and shade can help reduce these shadows it still isn’t ideal. So when should you schedule your outdoor photo session?
Any professional photographer will agree that the best time to shoot outdoors is during what is know as the golden hour. This is typically the hour just after the sun has risen or the hour just before the sun sets. It is during this time that the lighting is ideal because the sun is typically at its lowest point in the sky. As a result, the light is soft and diffused which creates less contrast and shadows.
Additionally, during these hours there are fewer people out and about. This gives you the extra bonus of not having to worry about anyone walking in the background or distracting you during the shoot. The glow of the sun at this time will also help add dimension to the background and allow for more detail to come through the images.
How to determine the golden hour?
Since the sun rises and sets at different times every day you want to make sure you plan accordingly. From about March to July the sun will begin to rise earlier and set later and from August to December the sun will rise later and set earlier. Keep in mind that your location will impact the length of time you will have this ideal light to shoot with. As you move closer to the equator the “golden hour” will typically not be as long because the sun moves up in altitude more quickly so the light becomes harsher much faster.
While it may not seem ideal to have to wake early to get in your photo shoot the images you will come away with are well worth this small sacrifice. Most parents also agree that booking their family shoots earlier in the morning was met with less resistance from their children. Keep this in mind when you decide to book your next outdoor shoot.
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