closeup detail of mom holding daughter tight during sunset family photos

Why are outdoor photos only scheduled at sunset or sunrise?

This is a common question that I get asked: why can’t we take outdoor photos at 10am (or 1pm, etc)? The answer is that it’s all about the light! I am looking for that soft golden glow, and that only happens at specific times of the day. If you’ve ever heard about photographers talking about Golden Hour, this is the time of day that I’m talking about. Golden Hour is the first and last hour of every day, either the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset. Now let’s talk about all the reasons why this is the absolute BEST time of day!

Golden hour sunset photos outdoor of mom and 8-year-old daughter

The most flattering light is at Golden Hour

This is probably the biggest reason why I schedule sessions at sunset or sunrise. I want you to look amazing and this time of day is going to make you look your best. At golden hour, the light is soft, and the direction of the light is very flattering. But when the sun is higher up, it will create harsh shadows on your face and give you dark circles under your eyes. Have you ever tried to take a selfie when you have canned lights overhead and you wonder why you look so weird? It’s the shadows! But if you take a photo of yourself with lights that are level with your face, it looks MUCH better.

Mom kissing her elementary aged daughter during family photos outdoors

Sunset or sunrise light adds a beautiful, warm glow

Something that you may have noticed is that I love warmth. When the sun is low in the sky, it takes on a golden hue and adds warmth to photos. It can also create a beautiful glow that can’t be created at any other time of day.

Little girl wearing Joyfolie outfit and mom in free people dress at golden hour

Golden Hour is magical

Aside from the light being so lovely, it is also much easier to get creative with the light. At golden hour, I can create some truly unique photos for you because of the placement of the sun. Sometimes it’s as simple as sunbursts, but other times I use creative tools to make some fun artwork for you. These types of images can’t be made midday.

creative photography using prisms during family photos

Popular locations are usually less crowded

Most people will go home by the time sunset rolls around, so you will have a better chance for a more intimate session. And if you are booking at sunrise, everyone is still sleeping or eating breakfast, so you will likely have the place to yourself at that time. This is definitely a benefit to having your photos taken at sunset or sunrise.

sweet phtoos of a mom and daughter laughing on a blanket

When is the right time of year to schedule a sunset or sunrise session?

Because the timing of golden hour changes throughout the year, it’s a great idea to plan ahead and schedule your photos at a time that is best for your family. Some kids do well when they stay up later than bedtime and some don’t.

In the late spring through summer, sunset is pretty late so consider that before scheduling a family session in these months. Or read my blog about how to keep kids awake for sunset sessions! But if you schedule between late summer and early spring, sunset is much earlier and easier for young children.

Sunrise sessions are usually only scheduled in the fall when it’s not so early. But I do also schedule sunrise sessions in the early spring when it’s wildflower season out near Hood River, Oregon. If your child is an early riser, then this is a great time to schedule your family photos!

little girl holding straw purse basket full of flowers

How can I book golden hour family photos?

If you’ve decided that golden hour is definitely when you want your family photos taken, I’d love to get you on my schedule! You can contact me to get started or check out my portfolio first. I can’t wait to create beautiful artwork with you!

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