Wedding Photography Guide – The Best Time to Schedule A Photo Shoot

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You and the love of your life are out for a stroll at your favorite park.  The sun is shining and the breeze gently blows your hair away from your face.  You turn to ask him a question and there he is…down on one knee.  Nervously, but without hesitation, he expresses his love for you and asks you to marry him.  In shock, you jump up and down, screaming at the top of your lungs, YES!

As you plan your dream wedding you look over hundreds of options and make a thousand decisions. Your photographer is booked and now it’s time to set up your engagement session.  You and your fiance’ go back and forth and back and forth for days trying to get your schedules to work.  Finally there’s a day together where you can devote time to your session.  But what time of day is the best time to go capture this exciting time in your life?

The quick answer is: (can I get a drum roll please!) You have two prime times during the day…yes two! 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.

If you’re entire day is open, the best time for your photo shoot is about an hour before the sun is officially down for the count.  (I mean really….who wants to wake up and leave the house before the sun starts to rise?) 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.

Really, if you’ve hired a professional with experience and continuing education then they can create incredible images any time during the day.  Here are a few examples of what the lighting can look like when shooting in the middle of the day, or graciously during either golden hour.

Both of these wedding day First Look session were done early in the morning.  The image on the left, it was a very bright, sunny morning, which provided the perfect back lighting. The image on the right was also early on a bright and sunny morning, but we found the perfect pocket of shade on the beach to capture the blue water and sky. (and with big smiles instead of squints)

So, here it is…3 pm. 🙂  Bright and sunny, with white all around us acting like a huge reflector.  This happens to be one of my favorite images from Ami and Bharvath’s recent engagement session.  If you love this image as much as I do, just wait until we feature this session.  These two put me in photographer heaven all afternoon!

Again, middle of the afternoon right on the water…HANDS DOWN one of my all time favorite images.

This one, also right in the middle of the afternoon. (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.) It may not be your favorite lighting, but it still makes for some gorgeous blue skies.

Ahhhhh. That golden hour I was speaking of.  Yes…this is my favorite time.  Can you blame me?  This was actually taken in her brother’s driveway.  Yep.  Oh and that henna design…perfection.

Another bonus for shooting at the golden hour.  You catch the sun going up, or more desired, the sun going down. 🙂  Hey, I am on the West Coast after all.

A great example (if I do say so myself) of playing with the sun.

And some days it rains.  Heck, some days you even have your phone going nuts with tornado warnings.  Thankfully this day, 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!



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