When Should I Book a Photoshoot?
So you’re ready to book your first photoshoot! Maybe you’ve welcomed a new addition to the family, or you need some social media content for your small business, or you’d just like some nice pictures of you and your cat for your dating profile. Whatever your reason, there are different factors to consider when deciding when to book a photoshoot. Here I’m referring to both the time of day as well as time of year.
Let’s start with time of year. A great photographer will be able to make the most of what each season has to offer and capture stunning photographs any time of the year. Luckily for you I happen to know a great photographer I can recommend 😉. Shameless plug aside, I’ve noticed some pros and cons of photographing in the different seasons:
spring bulbs and blossoms make for lots of bold and bright colours
weather is warming up but still cool enough to stay comfortable
days are getting longer so there is more available light to shoot
wildlife is buzzing so there are lots of entertaining birds and insects (great for kids)
weather is still a bit unpredictable and wet
if the plants haven’t leafed out yet the scenery can look a bit dreary and boring
the ground can be a bit soggy from a winter of rain, so shooting on grass or in nature can get a bit messy (which could maybe also be a pro?)
Cherry blossoms in March and April make gorgeous spring backdrops
warm weather makes for lots of great summer outfit options where people aren’t obstructed by layers of clothes. Also helps maintain a more comfortable body temperature
lots of greenery and flowers available for pretty backdrops
less rain so less likely to need to cancel due to weather
looooong days so more availability for evening or morning shoots
great opportunities for capturing families playing in the water
sweat...doesn’t look great on camera or on the photographer 😂
high mid-day sun is not ideal light for photography, so limits mid-day shooting options
the greens in the forest and plants aren’t as vibrant as spring
the best times of day to shoot might not be ideal for young kids (after 6pm or early morning)
awkward tan lines - enough said
biting insects are in full force and those with bee allergies will need to be more cautious
Hello summer beach weather! This family is big on surfing so it was most
fitting to capture some family memories at the beach
obviously fall colours are a wow factor
I love the look of long grasses that are dying out this time of year
the sun is lower and there is often a beautiful warmth to the atmosphere that shows through in photos
fall fashion (think cozy sweaters, plaid and leather boots) looks great in photographs
the ground is dryer than in spring and weather still pretty nice
last chance to get nice photos in time for those christmas cards!
there is a small window of time to capture the changing leaves in all their glory
rainy cold weather starts to pick up in November
honestly can’t think of many cons shooting in fall!
What's not to love about a backdrop of Japanese maples in the fall
stormy season can make for dramatic clouds and scenery
snow activities become a great scene for photographs
snowy weather can be quite magical
the sun is lower in the sky, providing a nicer light for mid-day shooting
when we’ve lost our summer glow, we might not look and feel our best and feel a bit washed out
short days limit ability to shoot in the evenings
people get cold and cranky quickly
runny noses and cold skin don’t look nice on camera and can add cost for extra editing
west coast rain is in full force
lack of greenery and flowers can make scenery a bit dreary to work with
A frigid Nova Scotia winter didn't stop this couple from capturing this magical moment
Now for time of day. Most of you have probably heard of the golden hours. Those are the miraculous times an hour or so after sunrise and an hour before sunset, where the sun is low in the sky and creates a beautiful hazy glow in photographs. It’s great for backlighting a subject and getting a more ethereal feel. On a sunny or partly cloudy day, I love shooting during this time. The time of day this happens at will of course vary depending on your location on the planet and time of year. Here’s a link to a cool graph you can play with to see daylight times in Vancouver: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/canada/vancouver.
The setting sun or "golden hour" provides warm light and an ethereal glow
I prefer shooting within a few hours of sunrise, and later afternoon to dark. I avoid mid-day shoots as overhead light casts ugly shadows and light patches. It’s possible to work during that time utilizing shady areas or a diffusion (fancy term for lightweight white fabric put between the sun and the subject, to diffuse the harsh light). I like to stop shooting once the sun dips below the horizon. I don’t gravitate towards lower light shooting and the moody grainy look that comes with it, though there are other photographers that do and the pics can look fantastic.
Overcast days work wonders for photographing people. It’s amazing how it can help make someone’s skin appear nice and smooth with minimal or no retouching. Lack of harsh shadows decreases bagginess under the eyes or shadows that emphasize unwanted areas of your body (and who doesn’t like that)! They’re also great for allowing you to shoot through that midday time frame, which can be handy when you’re trying to make a schedule work around children.
No skin retouching needed on this subject. The overcast light gave her a porcelain complexion and eliminated under-eye shadows
Speaking of kids, let's talk about scheduling a shoot to set them up for a win. Your child’s age impacts the length of time that we can shoot and the type of shoot we can do. Every child is different so you’ll know what works best for your own. Here are a few ages and the benefits of each:
From newborn up to a few weeks old is a great time for catching sleeping babies and adorable details of their little hands and body parts. A warm, quiet and cozy environment that isn’t too bright works best. Nothing fancy needed, just baby and parent(s) and perhaps a few simple props you already have on hand. We don’t really need to worry about booking around nap or feeding time because those are great times to incorporate into a shoot at this age
After 3 months and up to around 6 months babies are a bit more responsive and you’ll start to see more facial expressions and they’ll actually look into the camera. They’re also starting to be able to hold their head up on their own. It’s good to plan the shoot around their nap times (plan for when they’re most alert and already fed) and anticipate keeping the shoot shorter
6 months to a year is a super fun time where babies can sit up and are starting to crawl around or even stand up with support. They make lots of cute facial expressions and there are lots of opportunities for adorable photos. This is also a more convenient age for outdoor photoshoots. Kids are usually high energy for short spurts so that means lots of running around for me, but they get tired out or hungry within 45 minutes or so, so keeping the shoots shorter is ideal
1 year plus… those toddlers sure know how to move! I am honestly exhausted after one shoot with a toddler but man is it fun (kudos to all you parents out there)! They’re so filled with curiosity the opportunities for great outdoor photos are endless. Having a full belly and being well rested makes for smoother sessions. I find they start to melt down between 45 minutes to 90 minutes of shooting but I do prefer having a bit more time for these shoots. Then we don’t have to stress if they’re distracted or eating and not “cooperative” (for lack of a better word) for little periods of time
Older children (about 4 years and up) can open up lots of opportunities to go on a longer shoot or have a bit more of an adventure further from home. If they can do something they love (like going on a scooter, jumping on trampoline, rock climbing, etc), they will be more engaged and you really capture a slice in time with their personality. I find a little sass and too-cool-for-school attitude comes out in that 9+ age range, but I always look for ways to connect with individual children, and help them feel comfortable participating in the photoshoot
Having kids participate in something they love makes them more engaged in
the photoshoot and can lead to capturing some pretty special moments
So there you have it! Hopefully you’ve gained some insight towards good times to book your photoshoot. If you have any more questions you can always post a comment below or send me a message through my Contact page.
p.s. I’d love to hear your comments below on your favourite times to photograph or be photographed and why 🙂