When is the best time of day for outdoor family photos?
Light is one of the most important aspects of photography. As a photographer, I’m always studying how the light is falling, how it is adding to or taking away from a moment.
The best time of day for outdoor family photos is 1-2 hours before sunset.
This time of day is referred to as “Golden Hour” because of the lower sun creating a golden look and beautiful backlight opportunities for photos. Having the sun lower in the sky means more flattering light for family and maternity photo sessions.
The location does impact the exact time we would start, (some locations have no ability to filter sunlight so we would want to start earlier, while other locations – like the one shown in this post – have great spaces for filtering the sun so you can start a closer to two hours before sunset).
The exact time of day will also vary by the time of year. In the winter and fall months, sunset is much earlier. While spring and summer the days are longer, and golden hours is later.
Even if it is cloudy, golden hour is the best time of day for family photos.
I know here in the PNW we have plenty of grey days, so it is easy to think that anytime of day works well if the sky is overcast. While cloud cover does offer a subtle soft box effect, the sun is still there and can still cause squinting and harsh under eye shadows if your family session is too early in the day.
Early morning is the next best time of day.
If sunset is just too late for your kids, an early morning session is the next best thing. It means being up and ready early as you want to start as close to sunrise as possible. But if you have kids like mine, they are already up hours before sunrise anyways.
Looking for a Seattle area sunset (or sunrise) family photo session?
Schedule your family photo session. Head to my portfolio to see if lifestyle family photography is right for your family.