Let’s face it. Life is crazy, especially when you’re planning a wedding. Touring venues, finalizing a date, figuring out a budget…and that’s a drop in the bucket. You’re balancing a wedding to-do list a mile long between working, school, family, friends…trying to stay sane. In the midst of this, its time to schedule your engagement session. You begin to wonder, ‘what is the best time of day to do this?’.
You’ve probably heard of the sacred ‘golden hour’ and how it’s the best time. Is it though? Is there really only this one time of day that is the best time? Let’s step outside the box for a minute and ask…What makes any time of day the best time?
The best time of day to schedule your photo session depends on 2 things.
The Session Location
Over the past 10 years, I’ve shot weddings that last from 2 hours to 53 hours (no lie!) there’s one thing I’ve learned. You only have so much control. Working odd hours can make scheduling an engagement session difficult. For some weddings, you have no control on your ceremony start time. This leads to shooting any where between early morning to after sunset. In a perfect world, I would do all my sessions within the golden hour. The dreamy light and golden rays produce some of my favorite images.
What happens when you have no choice but to schedule it for 2:30 pm? What do you do then? Easy, you schedule it for 2:30 pm. If you’ve hired a professional photographer, they will know what to do in any lighting situation to create dreamy images.
Below are multiple examples of portrait sessions, both engagement and weddings, ranging from morning to night.
Early in the Morning
During Priya and Vishal’s early morning First Look, we found a large area of shade at Marco Island Marriott. It created a even lighting through out the image. Bonus is it kept this bride and groom from squinting!
Middle of the Day
Now that you’ve seen a couple samples with morning light, let’s check out some afternoon sessions. While shooting in the middle of the afternoon isn’t my favorite time of day, you can still use the light to your advantage.
Here for Ami and Bhavarth’s engagement session in downtown St Pete, this location provided even lighting. With the help of bright sun and white walls/columns everywhere, our space is ignited. (I remember dancing behind my camera after this set and it’s still one of my favorite images!)
This image was also taken right in the middle of the afternoon for Rekha and Brandon’s First Look before their beach Jewish ceremony.
The Golden Hour
You’ve heard of this…the hour before sunset. Did you know there are two golden hours during the day? It all starts in the early morning, one hour after sunrise. The most common used golden hour is in the evening and is my favorite time to shoot. It certainly helps that I’m on the West Coast of Florida and I have yet to see a bad sunset.
Let me throw you a little curve ball though. This image was actually taken in Sumera’s brother’s driveway on the east side of Tampa. Yep, so golden and rich…right on their doorstep, miles and miles from the beach.
Lauren and Shami’s perfect sunset silhouette was set up, posed, tested and captured in a matter of minutes. Their ceremony was at the Powel Crosley Estate in Sarasota. They literally said I do and shared their first kiss as the sun was setting. With the help of Tracie Domino Events, we quickly whisked Lauren and Shami down by the water and click! Oh the colors and tender moment of just saying ‘I do’ still make my heart flutter.
When There’s No Sun
Some days it rains. It’s over cast and ‘ugly’ out. Heck, sometimes you even have your phone going off every 2 minutes with tornado warnings, while your bride is in the next room being pampered and their first look is in 30 minutes. In perfect timing, Megha and Josef’s wedding day at the Sheraton Riverwalk in Tampa produced even, filtered lighting. This was a blessing for Josef who has baby blue eyes and always squints in the sun. Funny how life works out huh?
There you have it! The ‘best’ time to schedule a photo shoot is during that golden hour, truly the best time won’t be found on a clock. It’s the time that works best for your schedule/life. Remove the stress and leave it to your photographer to utilize the light in the best way possible.