The best time of day for your outdoor photo shoot


There are a lot of things to consider when booking your outdoor photo shoot. Whether it is for an family photo shoot or maternity session you want to ensure your images are amazing. Many people enquire to book their shoot thinking that the afternoon or morning would be the best time to shoot since there is plenty of sunlight, but these are actually the worst times of the day to do an outdoor shoot.


The afternoon light from the sun is often harsh and strong which causes unflattering shadows. While diffusers and shade can help reduce these shadows it still isn't ideal. So when should we schedule your outdoor shoot?

A golden hour sunset family photo shoot at the best time of day, Perth, WA
A golden hour sunset family photoshoot at the best time of day, Perth, WA

The Golden Hour

Any professional photographer will agree that the best time to shoot outdoors is during what is known as the golden hour. This is typically the hour just before the sun sets. It is during this time that the lighting is ideal because the sun is typically at its lowest point in the sky. As a result, the light is soft and diffused which creates less contrast and shadows. I exclusively shoot in the golden hour for outdoor portraits. 


During this hour there are usually fewer people out and about. This gives you the extra bonus of not having to worry too much about people walking in the background or distracting you during the shoot. I also prefer to schedule family shoots on weekdays as public spaces are quieter than weekends. Quieter locations allow you to relax more and enjoy the shoot with a bit more privacy. The glow of the sun at this time will also help add dimension to the background and allow for more detail to come through the images. 

A golden hour family mummy and me photo shoot at sunset in a paddock in Perth, WA
A mum and her children in the golden hour photo shoot at sunset in a paddock in Perth, WA

How do I determine Golden Hour?

Since the sun rises and sets at different times every day, I want to make sure we plan accordingly. From about March to July the sun will begin to rise later and set earlier and from August to December the sun will rise earlier and set later. Keep in mind that our location will impact the length of time you will have this ideal light to shoot with. This is why I prefer to shoot at locations that I know and have used before. For example, at the beach I shoot VERY fast, as the light is very harsh until the sun has almost set, so the shooting time is shorter. At shady locations we can get away with shooting earlier. If we reschedule for any reason, the ideal start time of your shoot may change. 


While it may not seem ideal to have to keep the kids up a little late for your photo shoot, the images you will come away with are well worth this small sacrifice. Most of the time the kids are absolutely fine past their bedtime on the one occasion. The novelty of being out and about, playing with the family in the golden light keeps children happy, so long as they’re fed and appropriately clothed for the weather.

Some more tips and hints for keeping the kids happy for your family photo shoot here :)

Have a beautiful day!

Michelle x