Planning the perfect photo session can be stressful.
First, you need to figure out which photographer to work with (hopefully it’s me). Then, you need to think of the perfect location. Next comes all the details like what you’ll wear, what kind of vibe you want, the poses (or non-poses) that you like, etc.
Working with a seasoned professional will help tremendously – they will know how to plan the session with you, how to interact with your family to get the best shots, know all the best locations, and they do well under pressure or when things don’t go to plan.
But, aside from all nitty-gritty details, one crucial detail remains: what time of day should you plan an outdoor session?
In the near decade of being a family & children’s photographer in the Cincinnati and Dayton area, I have photographed a lot of people under a lot of various weather conditions.
I have photographed in the rain, extreme heat, humidity, freezing cold, wind, overcast, sun, you name it.
And while I love the challenge of working in various types of natural, outdoor light, I do prefer ONE time of day for various reasons: SUNRISE.
I know what you might be thinking…
That’s insane. Why would I get my butt up THAT EARLY in the summer (if you want the actual sunrise in your photos like these, then we will start by 6am) when I could sleep in and plan my photo session for later in the day?
Before you start sweating it and thinking how you couldn’t wouldn’t shouldn’t ever do a sunrise session, just hear me out.
I have a reason for my madness and it’s worth sharing with you…
Not as hot in the summer
In Ohio, summer can be gosh darn HOT. By July, we are usually busting out a full sweat by 9am and the humidity reaches levels of “can’t hardly breathe or catch my breath.”
Then, you add in running around being in photos and you’ll be the equivalent of a melting snow cone in the Amazon.
If you want to plan a summer session AND look great (without the hair frizz, sweaty pits, and glistening sheen covering your face), then getting up a few hours earlier is #worthit.
If you follow my work long enough, you’ll notice that I LOVE that beautiful glowing light (AKA golden hour light). This kind of natural light is only around twice a day when it’s sunny – at sunrise and at sunset.
This kind of light is not only beautiful, but it’s flattering for portraits in many ways.
There’s less chance of harsh shadows on the face (that emphasize fine lines and wrinkles), your skin tone will look more healthy and even, and it doesn’t make your eyes hurt.
Remember what it was like as a kid when a grown up was trying to take your picture as you stood looking into the sun while being yelled at to not blink or squint? You don’t get that with golden hour – it’s virtually squint-proof.
Nothing amounts to showing up to a beautiful location to being surrounded by other families with the same exact intention.
When you choose a popular location at a popular time of day, there will be some drawbacks to that – mainly it consisting of moving around to find spots that aren’t taken and waiting for the non-picture people to get out of the frame.
It might seem insignificant, but when you only have a split second to snap a photo of your child laughing (when it hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk) and a dog is squatting in the background, it can feel a little defeating.
So when you can wake up before the birds start singing, then you get the best of it all. You might even say that you’ll get the best worm of the day.
This is all well and good, but you still have a few hang ups.
One, you don’t want to get up that early (I hear ya – I am NOT a morning person and will most likely need a bucket of coffee before we start).
Secondly, you don’t want to wake up that early.
I hear ya…again.
It’s the pits, but if you have kids, this might be your best option, especially if you REALLY want those golden rays in your photos.
If you can and want to hold out until sunset at 9pm during the summer, that’s great. But, if you have grouchy kids by 7pm and stretching bedtime by 2 hours seems unimaginable, then opting for sunrise will be worth waking up early on a Saturday.
One, you’ll have smiling kids. Two, you’ll have the rest of the day to do whatever you’d like – and perhaps even take a nap.