April 26, 2020 / Planning
Sunrise, Sunset, or Blue Hour? | What's the best time of day for your photoshoot?
What’s the best time of day for your photoshoot?
First of all, scheduling your session at these times is only a recommendation, not a rule.
However, the time of day we schedule our shoot plays a huge factor on our final photographs.
Depending on the style we are going for with our session, I will recommend a time that corresponds with sunrise, sunset, and sometimes even blue hour.
My favorite time of the day for a photo session:
The golden hour is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour of sun in our day. At this time, the lighting is soft, and diffused. There are no sharp shadows and the images taken during the golden hour have warm, golden glow. Most frequently, I will schedule our shoot so we can take advantage of sunrise or sunset.
I recommend shooting at sunrise if we want to get a busier spot to ourselves. Sunrise is also great if we are trying to shoot where visitors often leave prints in nature. For example, when I want to shoot at the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and I want ripples in the sand, morning is best as visitors often walk through them by the end of the day. There are also some places where the sunrise is visible but sunset may not be so spectacular. If there is any chance of us experiencing any fog, it would be in the morning. These are just a few reasons we may choose to have an early morning shoot.
Sunset is when the majority of my shoots take place. I keep track of the exact time of sunset every day so I can plan around it. I usually give myself 1 or 2 hours to shoot before the sun actually dips below the horizon. That late sun usually results in beautiful sun flares, golden lighting, and a spectacular show of colors. Once the sun goes down, the vibe changes from warm and dreamy to dark and moody.
Blue hour is the time just before the sun rises or shortly after sunset. At these hours, the light is indirect, soft, and has a bluish tint. The sky might also be colored in yellowish or pinkish undertones, making the blue hour perfect if we are doing a “night” shoot. Blue hour is the best time to shoot in the city; it’s dark enough to get neons and lights, yet there’s still a noticeable sky in the photos. I don’t often photograph my clients at blue hour in nature, but I’m always getting creative so shooting doesn’t have to end either.
Now that you know the best times to shoot and why, I also want you to know that we really can shoot at any time of the day or even late into the night.
And what if we have bad weather?
In Michigan, we all know how temperamental the weather can be. We may not even get a sunrise or sunset. In that case mid-day shooting best, as clouds diffuse the harsh sun. Usually if we see anything rolling in on the weather channel, I’ll keep an eye on it. It may be a good idea to move our photoshoot for an additional hour of light in our day. Honestly, unless it’s completely down-pouring, I’d only consider our weather moody. Too often I’ve had a photoshoot cancel due to bad weather, only to look out my window and regret that decision. I have learned that clouds and moody weather actually result in a more unique and brilliant sunset than a plain blue sky. If it comes down to it, I’ve still captured surreal photos in the rain.