What time of day is best for Family Portraits?
This is a very common question when clients are considering getting family portraits outdoors. The answer is two-fold.
Commonly photographers LOVE the afternoon “Golden Hour” – that hour or so before the sun hits the horizon and sets for the day. This time of day is so named because the colour balance of sunlight shifts as more blue light is scattered, and the increased distance that the light has to travel through the atmosphere decreases direct light, creating a warm, soft glow that photographers love. It lights up our subjects, the atmosphere and the landscape. Everything glows golden.
I love this time of day as well, and for some families it is the perfect time of day. However this is not the case for all families.
The main problem for shooting families at this time of day, especially families with young children, is that in Australia, golden hour happens very late in the afternoon. Even in winter it hits right at dinner time or for even younger toddlers, bedtime. Not only that, but there has been an entire day for children to have decided this is not their best day. Perhaps they napped too late, or too early or didn’t nap at all. Perhaps they are hungry. As parents of young children we know there could have been a hundred things go wrong during the course of the day which has led to an upset child.
The good news is there are 2 golden hours each day.
Golden Hour #1
As a Mum of 3 children, I discovered that I loved photographing my own children when they were happy. When they were happiest. And this was rarely at 7pm in the evening in summer or 5pm in winter. For my early risers they were happiest first thing in the morning. Usually as soon as they were awake, or very soon after breakfast. What I learnt was that this corresponded beautifully with the other “Golden Hour” of the day – the hour after the sun has risen in the morning. The sun is still low in the sky, and coats everything with a gorgeous, golden, glow just like in the afternoon Golden hour but with happier children.
So this is when I recommend to my clients that we shoot family portraits. As early as is comfortable for them to be up and ready. This time of day brings so much colour and glow into photographs, it makes the background glow, leaves glisten, and halos forms rims around your hair.
There are added benefits to this time of day as well.
In summer, the temperature begins to climb very quickly once the sun is up. As early as 8am the sun can have a real “bite” to it, even more so if we are shooting on the beach. The humidity rises and everyone becomes uncomfortable and sweaty. When everyone is dressed in their Sunday’s Best for family portraits this is even more true. Shooting early helps us avoid this temperature rise, and leaves everyone more comfortable, which in turn leads to more smiles, more laughter and more fun during our sessions.
The “Squint” factor. Once the sun is up, the glare can be intense, and children especially, squint to protect their eyes. Shooting early, before the glare gets too much, whilst the sun is still low, avoids having a gallery full of “squinty eyes” and gives us those beautiful portraits of your children big bright eyes. This is something I love!
Beat the traffic. There are so many beautiful locations around Sydney’s Northern Beaches to shoot at, and all of them attract people who love to be outdoors and enjoy them. Shooting early in the morning, whether it be a beach, the bush or a park or garden, usually means we beat the crowds. And the traffic on the road getting there! On a beautiful summers day, the beaches can be packed before 8am. So unless you love a crowd, a gallery of spectators whilst you have your family portraits, shooting early is ideal.
So how early can you meet me!? I am available anytime from Sunrise!
See you soon.