Monday, May 20, 2024

What time do outdoor family photos start?

little girl walking from mom to dad at the mouth of the Columbia River at sunset

You are curious about what time do outdoor family photos start? This isn’t an easy answer, given that sunsets and sunrises change constantly throughout the year, but there are several factors that go into when to start your family photos. I always schedule sessions near sunset or sunrise because that’s when the light is best. If you take a look at the photos on this blog (and all over my website), you’ll see what I mean. The light has that beautiful golden glow that you can’t get at any other time of day.

And if you’re new here, hello! I’m Becca, a family adventure photographer in Portland, Oregon who focuses on connections and carefree moments. I have been told that I am like an anti-anxiety pill in human form and you will feel that during your session with me. I create a fun and relaxing environment so your family photos show your family having a great time together! I also travel a lot and am available for sessions anywhere, just ask!

So let’s talk about what time you can expect to start your session. You can check what time the sun rises or sets on any given date by checking this calendar. And then read on for more information!

mother hugging daughter with wildflowers while father and son play behind them during sunset

What time do family photos start for sunset sessions?

The exact time we will start your sunset family photos depends on the location and also whether you have added a family movie or not. If your location requires a lot of walking to get to various points, then I’ll usually schedule it for 1.25-1.5 hours before sunset. If you have added a family movie, this will add some more time (20-30 minutes). If your location requires some walking, we can start an hour before sunset. I will also allow a little extra time if you have multiple children or if you are borrowing any pieces from my client’s closet.

Sessions usually last about an hour to an hour and a half, but I don’t put a time limit on them. We just see how it goes and stop when it feels right.

Father throwing toddler in the air

What time do we start for sunrise family photos?

Sunrise sessions will start about 15 minutes before sunrise, or if the location has something blocking the sun for the first few minutes, we can start right at sunrise or shortly after.

cloudy day at the beach with a family of four hugging

What time will our family photos start if it’s cloudy?

The timing of your session depends a lot on the weather, but I will check the forecast and let you know if we need to start earlier than planned for the sunset sessions or later for the sunrise sessions. If it’s going to be cloudy, I usually suggest starting an hour or two earlier (sunset) or later (sunrise). Cloudy skies will create beautiful lighting, even as long as we’re not shooting at midday when the sun is directly overhead. Because that will give everyone dark shadows under their eyes even when it’s cloudy, and no one wants that. I suggest wearing warm colors mixed with lighter neutrals on days like this so your photos don’t look too gray and dark. I have a blog on cloudy day sessions that will help you prepare.

mom and daughter dancing at sunset

What time do we start when it’s cloudy?

If it’s cloudy but still showing some sun, we’ll likely keep it at the originally scheduled time. Usually, the sunset skies on those days are spectacular!

Dad dances with mom while the kids run through the mountains

When are the sunrise sessions offered?

At certain times of the year, the sunrise is too early, or just too cold to start that early (the morning is colder than the afternoon on most days). Because of this, I only schedule sunrise sessions in early to mid-fall, or during wildflower season at the mouth of the Columbia River (where the weather is usually better than in Portland!). I promise it’s worth getting up early for! Especially if your kids are better in the morning.

Little boy watching from behind his parents' feet on a cloudy day

I hope this was helpful in answering some of your questions about when to start family photos. If you are still curious or have additional questions, please feel free to contact me. I would love to chat with you and help make your outdoor family photo session perfect! Now that you know when your family photo session will take place, it’s time to book! I look forward to working with you and capturing beautiful memories of your family.

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