Why Outdoor Family Photo Sessions Take Place One Hour Before Sunset


When do outdoor family photo sessions take place?

You may have noticed from our website or our social media pages that light plays a huge part in our images and if you have not heard us use the words ” Golden Light” before now you are about to find out what it is all about! We shoot 1-2 hours before sunset and there is a big reason why we and many other photographers shoot at this time and it’s because light matters A LOT in photography and we would go as far as to say it can make or break an image.

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Outdoor family photo sessions take place 1-2 hours before sunset at a time called “Golden Hour”

Golden hour is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset that produces a warm natural light. It is at this time the sun is more red in colour and low in the sky providing a few benefits for photography.

As many people prefer the evenings to early mornings, most sessions take place in the evening one hour before sunset.

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Golden hour light makes for beautiful portraits

The first benefit of golden hour is that the light is more flattering for portraits.

During the rise and fall of the sun, it is closer to the subject and it is also moving through the atmosphere at a much lower angle than usual, producing soft diffused light. It does not created any harsh shadows or exaggerated highlight. When the sun is high and overhead, the shadows fall under the eyes. No one wants dark circles under our eyes from the sun being too high. Instead, we want light across our faces for beautiful portraits.

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The next golden hour benefit is the sun can create magical portraits.

As the sun is low it can wrap around you adding sun flare, beautiful rim light and warm tones to your photographs. It illuminates the subject in a fairly flattering way. Without getting too technical on you, if you look through the images in our portfolio, that light in our outdoor sessions is all created while the picture is taken. We did not add that while editing. The warmth you feel looking at the images, or the extra hint of something is the light adding to a moment of connection, helping you to feel it even more.

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Another golden hour benefit is that golden hour is usually less crowded at outdoor locations

As mentioned above, golden hour occurs just before sunset. Depending on the time of year, this can be a bit late, or right around dinner time. Most families leave the beaches/woods and head home for the evening, leaving the place more open for your family to be photographed without distractions!

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Golden hour is important even when it is overcast or the sun is blocked by trees or mountains.

Even if it is overcast, golden hour is still important.

A cloudy day can seem like the perfect opportunity to shoot your session mid-day. While the clouds can help diffuse the sun a little bit, the sun is still there behind the clouds creating shadows. Often times, cloudy days mid summer can make it harder for you to keep the sun out of your eyes and can make kids even more squinty. So yes, if it’s cloudy out we will still have your outdoor photo session around golden hour.

A few tips about golden hour:

  • Golden hour during summer can be quite late, with sessions starting as late as 8pm. If this is just too late for your kids, consider scheduling your sessions in fall to early spring with earlier golden hour times.
  • Location does matter (check out 5 of our favourite locations here) for when a session will begin. On our beaches and water sessions will need to begin closer to that 1 hour before sunset. Where as, in our woods or mountains the sun can set a little earlier, allowing you to begin your session a bit earlier too.
  • It is worth keeping your children up one day for for a family session. Pushing naps a little bit later or longer and having a calmer day can help. But also, the fun of a new location and playing in the woods acts as a great distraction for your kids.
  • Should evenings not be for your family, consider and early morning sunrise session instead.

Now that you know why outdoor photo sessions take place so late in the day, your ready to take advantage of this magical time and schedule your family photo session!

Hippy & Bloom Family Photography


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