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  • Writer's pictureKindred Spirits Photography

Why Does it Matter What Time of Day I Schedule Photos?

"Why should it matter what time day I schedule photos at?" There's some debate about this in the photography world, some photographers will only do golden hour sessions, which means the hour right after sunrise or the hour before sunset. Others will say that as a professional you should be able to manage yourself in any type of lighting situation and be knowledgable about how to use the light. Well, the truth of it is that different times of day gives different kinds of light. Add in external factors like the type of scenery there is, it becomes even more challenging for editing. I personally advocate for golden hour sessions, BUT, will accommodate different times of day, as long as the clients understand it will give a different vibe to the photos. Rather than talking about the technical aspects of it all though, I figured I'd just show you what I mean.

This session was taken at 10am, much past the sunrise golden hour. The couch itself was placed in shade, but the background was in direct sunlight, and had a field of golden rod, which is bright green stalks with bright yellow buds. This was extremely challenging to edit because of the overwhelming yellow hues, and not making the background completely white, to make sure the subjects were properly lit. You can see how it has more harsh light, and the speckled lighting on the subjects from the sun coming through the shade.

This was taken at 1pm, (same location as the 7pm one with the mom in an orange dress if you scroll down a little). The woods provided more shade, and because it was leafy trees, it was somewhat even lighting, as opposed to pines which provide a more speckled look. There are still bright spots and dark spots throughout the photo though as the patches of light come through in different areas.

This elopement was at 2pm in the afternoon, when the sunlight is still fairly direct overhead. Even in the woods, you can see how the light has a very patchy lighting, because of the pines, with the background being very bright. It's beautiful, and adds an interesting dimension to the photos, but for those looking for a soft glow, this isn't going to be what you're expecting.

This was taken around 4pm in direct sunlight.The external factor of excessive green, brightly lit by the sun makes for a challenging edit remaining true to colors. The eyes will tend to be more dark because you won't want to look into the sun, and you have to adjust for so much light in the background, which makes faces more shadowed.

This was around 5:30pm in the city. When you have the concrete acting as a reflector in the still more direct sunlight, it gives the photos a light and airy feel, while still being able to remain true to color. So if you like the more bright photos, this is an excellent option for achieving that look.

This was at 7:30pm, and you can see that beautiful golden glow in the bokeh at the top of the photo! As the sun starts setting, it turns more warm, and allows your photos to have a more even lighting throughout, from background to foreground, and also lets you pick up more details around you.

This session was at 7pm, and it is slightly different because it had rained for an hour prior, which I think made the trees a little darker than normal, but, the sun was out, and a beautiful sunset this evening. The lighting is more even throughout the photo, and the subjects are evenly lit with no speckled lighting. This is the same location as the 1pm session!

With golden hour sessions, you can also get more of the natural sun flares which add another dimension to photos, if that's something you like.

This was getting close to 8pm, when you have the urban setting, it gives the buildings more of that golden glow, and you can get a little more natural sky detail, without using a fake sky overlay. And, even if you do choose a golden hour session, there's always the chance that it could be cloudy, and give your photos a more dark and moody look. This was at 6pm in the city.

I absolutely loved this overcast session, but I can't plan for that kind of lighting, it just is whatever Michigan decides to do today!

There is no wrong choice when choosing what time to have photos done. As you can see, these are all beautiful photos with a different lighting and feel in each one. When photographers talk about golden hour though, there's a reason, and as I mentioned, many will ONLY shoot at those times, to make sure their work is consistent. I do tend to be more flexible, and willing to work at different times, but that gives my work an inconsistent look, because I simply can't edit the exact same way with all the different lighting situations. I want you to be educated though as to what the difference can entail, so that you can make an informed choice in regards to timing!

Which of these sessions would you choose for yours?

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