toddler girl walking from mom to dad in the columbia river gorge at sunset time

What Time Do Outdoor Family Photos Start?

Are you curious about what time outdoor family photos start? This is not an easy answer, considering sunset and sunrise are constantly changing throughout the year, but there are certain factors that go into the time we will begin your family photos. I always schedule sessions close to sunset or sunrise because that is when the light is the best. If you take a look at the photos on this blog (and throughout my website), you'll see what I mean. The light has that beautiful golden glow that you can't get any other time of day.

So let's talk about what time you can expect to start your session. You can check what time sunrise or sunset is on any given date by checking this calendar. And then read on for more info!

Or watch the video below instead!

And if you're new here, hi! I'm Becca, a Portland, Oregon adventure family photographer focusing on connection and carefree moments. I've been told that I am like an anti-anxiety pill in human form, and you'll feel that during your session with me. I create a fun and relaxed environment so your family photos showcase your family having a great time together! I also do a lot of traveling and am available for sessions anywhere, just ask!

mother cuddling daughter in wildflowers while dad and son play behind them during sunset time

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 if you have added on a family film or not. If your location has a lot of walking needed to get to the different spots, then I'll usually schedule it for 1.25-1.5 hours before sunset. If you've added on a family film, that will add on some time, as well(20-30 mins). If your location requires little walking, we might start an hour before sunset. I will also allow for a little extra time if you have a lot of children or if you are borrowing any pieces from my client closet.

Sessions are usually around an hour to an hour and a half but I don't really put a time limit on them. We just see how it goes and stop when it feels right.

Dad 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 might start right at sunrise or a little after.

overcast day at the beach with a family of four cuddling

What time will our family photos start if it's overcast?

Your session time is very dependent upon the weather, but I'll be checking the forecast and will let you know if we need to start earlier than planned for sunset sessions, or later for sunrise. If it's going to be overcast, I usually suggest starting an hour or two earlier(sunset) or later(sunrise). Cloudy skies will create beautiful, even lighting as long as we aren't taking photos midday when the sun is directly overhead. Because that will give everyone dark shadows under their eyes even when overcast, and no one wants that. I suggest wearing warm colors mixed with lighter neutrals on days like this to keep your photos from looking too gray and dark. I have a blog all about cloudy day sessions that will help you prepare.

mom and daughter dancing in the sunset

What time do we start when it's cloudy?

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

Dad dancing with mom while kids run around in the mountains

When are sunrise sessions offered?

At certain times of the year, sunrise is super early, or just too cold to start so early (morning is colder than afternoons most days). Because of that, I only schedule sunrise sessions in the early to mid-fall, or during wildflower season out in the Columbia River Gorge (where the weather is typically nicer than in Portland!). I promise it's worth the early wake-up call! Especially if your kids do better in the mornings.

Little boy peeking from behind parents legs during overcast day

I hope this was helpful in answering some of your questions about what time family photos start. If you're still curious or have additional questions, please feel free to reach out to 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 can't wait to work with you and capture beautiful memories of your family.

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