So much goes into scheduling the perfect time for a session. We tend to choose sunrises or sunsets, depending on what the weather is like and the time of year. When choosing a time, we also have to check the location of the sun, since it changes depending on the season. We have sessions a lot in the mountains and forests here. With mountains, you really have to pay attention to where and when the sun goes behind them. The light disappears pretty quickly in the forest too, so we have to know when it will go. Direct sunlight can also be super fun for images, but we don’t tend to shoot them a lot in it. Here are some of our thoughts on the different times to schedule a session.
Getting up early is not for everyone and we totally get that. We love early morning sessions though! If we start our session just before the sun comes up, it’s a soft and cooler light for a while. And then the sun will come up and add a ton of warmth. We typically try to schedule these around sunrise, but we know that isn’t always easy. The light is best around 1-1.5 hours after the sunrise (depending on your location).
This was just before the sun came up in the fall. It was cool out, but so worth getting up super early and trekking out to the cliff!
This one was in the morning with some harsh light going on around us. We were covered by the trees, which helped so much!
This was early in the morning, but since the sun wasn’t out, it was pretty diffused lighting, which we love. You don’t have to worry as much about harsh lines or shadows in this kind of light.
This was in an early and super cold morning. By the way, snow is one of our favorite things. Snow is one of the best reflectors of light so I LOVE shooting in it.
About an hour to 1.5 before sunset is the perfect time for lighting. We enjoy evening sessions so much, but am always on more of a tighter schedule because one the sun is gone, it’s gone. If we are in the city, it’s not so bad because there are lights everywhere. If we are adventuring in the woods, we like to make sure there is enough time to get all the locations in before the sun goes behind the mountains.
This session was really close to the sunset, but ended up with really beautiful light. The trees blocked a lot of the sunlight and made the lighting really diffused.
This was at the top of Dolly Sods and was right around sunset. It was only harsh for a few more moments after this shot and we got more images during twilight (when the light has a cooler tone).
This session was in the afternoon, not really close to sunset. The light was a little strong at the time, but we loved the way this came out!
This was shot at about 4pm during winter and the lighting was a bit diffused through the clouds. We love the backlighting it produced.
This photo was taken at almost sunset (maybe 1.5 hours beforehand, during summer) in Blackwater Falls State Park. This location is full of trees, so when we shoot there, we have to make sure we will have enough light coming through. This was perfect!
This session was so much fun and the lighting was perfect. It was out for a bit of the session and then started to hide behind the mountain in Deep Creek.
Sunset sessions can always lead to some cool shots later, when it starts to get dark (especially in the city).
See what we are talking about?! This was all natural lighting. There was still some light left and Shannon used the car coming down the alley, as backlighting. Super fun!
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This is awesome that you wrote about this! So many advantages to both morning and evening sessions!
For sure! Thanks Cara! :)
Lots of amazing info in this blog post – so helpful for clients too!
Thank so much Laura! :)
Love the insight that you’ve shared about session time!
Thanks so much! :)
These are some really great tips with fabulous examples!
Thanks Jessica! :)
Great information on best times for a photo session thanks for sharing!
So glad you liked! :)
This is such a great and helpful article for clients to read! Those are some of my favorite times to shoot as well.
Super helpful post and I appreciate all your photo examples of how the light changes during sunrise and sunset. These are definitely the best times for a photo session!