There are a lot of things to consider when planning your outdoor photo shoot. Whether you are booking a family session, a dog session or a horse session, you want to ensure your images come out looking stunning. Many people think mid-afternoon will be the best time since there is plenty of sunlight, but this is actually one of the worst times to do an outdoor shoot.
The light from the sun in the afternoon 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 you schedule your outdoor shoot?
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 after the sun has risen or the hour just before the sun sets. The lighting is ideal during this time because the sun is typically at its lowest point in the sky. As a result, the light is soft and diffused and has the coveted golden hue. The glow of the sun will also help add dimension to the background and allow for more detail to come through the images.
How to determine the golden hour?
Since the sun rises and sets at different times every day you want to make sure you plan accordingly. From about March to July the sun will begin to rise earlier and set later and from August to December the sun will rise later and set earlier. Keep in mind that your location will impact the length of time you will have this ideal light to shoot with. As you move closer to the equator the “golden hour” will typically not be as long because the sun moves up in altitude more quickly so the light becomes harsher much faster.
While it may not seem ideal to have to wake early to get in your photo shoot the images you will come away with are well worth this small sacrifice. I prefer to shoot horse portraits just after sunrise and family portraits just before sunset, and dog portraits at either time. Keep this in mind when you decide to book your next outdoor shoot.
Award-winning portrait photographer Shannon Edney's photos have been featured on multiple magazine covers with photos published in print and digital advertisements around the world. Based out of Missoula, Montana, Shannon specializes in portrait photography showcasing people, dogs, and horses (all breeds, with a focus on the Arabian horse). Shannon is known for her ability to catch the perfect expression and capture her subjects in unique lighting, resulting in portraits rich in artistry that will be treasured for years to come.