When is the best time to schedule a photo shoot? What determines the best time and why?
The quick answer is: (can I get a drum roll please!) You have two prime times during the day! Either the hour after sunrise, or the hour before sunset. Also known as the sacred ‘Golden Hour’.
Lighting is EVERYTHING in photography. Okay, maybe that’s a bit much…but it’s really, really important. During the day, the sun is high which can be as bright as a flashlight aiming straight at your face. (Especially if you have lighter colored eyes.) Even on cloudy days, having a photo shoot in the middle of the afternoon can be brutal.
Ideally, you want to schedule your session during the golden hour, about an hour before the sun is officially down for the count. 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. Let’s face it. Life is crazy, especially when you’re planning a wedding. This is why it is so important to hire a professional photographer who knows what they are doing in any lighting situation, anytime, anywhere. Talk to your photographer about how you can battle the harsh sun and find out from them what to expect the day of the shoot.
I want to share with you that no matter what time of day your session is, you can still have great images. Here are a few examples of what the lighting can look like when shooting early in the morning, middle of the day, or graciously during the golden hour.
Both of the following wedding day First Look sessions were done early in the morning (around 9 am). For Lauren and Shami, the sun was already high and bright and there was very little shade at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota. However, the sun provided a luminance highlight around Lauren and Shami that is to die for.
During Priya and Vishal’s early morning First Look, we found a large area of shade provided by a building next to the Marco Island Marriott. It created a perfect balanced look from foreground to background and also kept this bride and groom from squinting!
Now that you’ve seen a couple samples of what I can do with morning light, it’s time to check out middle of the day. While shooting in the middle of the day 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, I used a location that provided even lighting for them to stand in. With the help of bright sun and white walls/columns everywhere, our space is ignited. I remember dancing behind my camera after this little session!
Remember me telling you for the very first image in this article, how the Ritz Carlton of Sarasota doesn’t provide much shade? This is certainly not a bad thing as the Ritz Carlton makes up for it with stunning design both inside and out. This image was also taken right in the middle of the afternoon for Rekha and Brandon’s First Look before their beach Jewish ceremony. Just to be clear…the middle of the day is certainly not my favorite time to shoot! However, life goes as it will and you make magic from what ever you’re handed.
Ahhhhh, the hour before the sun sets. Yes, this is the golden hour! This my friends 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. 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. Oh and that henna design…perfection.
Lauren and Shami’s perfect sunset silhouette was approached, set up, posed, tested and captured in a matter of minutes. Their ceremony was at the Powel Crosley Estate in Sarasota on the back porch. (simply divine) They literally said I do and had their first kiss as the sun was setting. With the help of Tracie Domino Events, we quickly whisked Lauren and Shami down to the water and SNAP!
You can also create some dramatic lighting at the golden hour. This is one of my favorite groom shots taken at Tracy and David’s not your average backyard wedding.
Some days it rains. Heck, some days you even have your phone going nuts with tornado warnings. Thankfully for Megha and Josef’s wedding day at the Sheraton Riverwalk in Tampa, my prayers were answered and the rain quit at just the right moment.
Here’s to the golden hour and every hour in between. Shine bright my friends!