Best Time of Day for Outdoor Photo Shoots
There’re a number of elements that make a great photograph. Some of these, such as choice of location (see here) and clothing (see here), have already been discussed in my previous blog posts. There’re also the technical aspects, such as composition and exposure that I may cover later. However, the single most important element in photography is without a doubt – light.The lighting, i.e. how the subject in a photograph is lit, can make or break a shot. So what is the best time of day for outdoor photo shoots?
The timing of a photo shoot is of utmost importance. While bright sunshine may appear to be ideal for shooting portraits outdoors, it can also produce least successful results. When the sun is very high up, such as at mid-day, the light is very bright and results in harsh shadows on the face (under the nose, chin and eyes) as well as squinting. When the sun is much lower, i.e. in early morning or in the evening, it produces a much more favourable warm light which adds a glow to your photographs. This type of light is very flattering to work with and makes you look all that much better.
The Golden Hour:
The absolute best time of day to shoot portraits is roughly 1-2 hours after sunrise or 1-2 hours before sunset. Photographers refer to this time as ‘the golden hour’. In order to provide the best possible results, I tend to schedule shoots around this time. Most clients find evening shoots more practical. However, if there’re any early risers, early morning is perfect too. The photo shoot lasts approximately 1,5 hours and is scheduled with the best light in mind.
It should be noted here that when it’s cloudy, any time of the day is good for shooting portraits. The sun hidden beneath the clouds acts as a large soft box and produces very soft and diffused light. A dream for any photographer really! Ireland, it should be said, is a perfect location in this respect – with cloud (and rain) always in great supply!
Note how evenly the model’s face is lit in the above example. The photo was taken on an overcast day in Howth Summit in Dublin.