Client Education

What is the Best Lighting for Outdoor Portraits?

Many factors come together to capture the perfect portrait, but one of the most important factors is lighting. We’ve all seen those warm, glowy photos and you may be wondering how to get that beautiful lighting in your photos. So what is the best time of day to take outdoor portraits?

Worst—Midday Sunlight

Most people’s go-to time for photos is either late morning, midday, or early afternoon, but during these times the sun is highest in the sky and the lighting is less than ideal. Having the sun directly overhead in your photos leads to squinty eyes, harsh shadows, bright spots, and washed out skin tones in your photographs. I would not recommend shooting at this time but, if midday is the only time of day that works for you, consider choosing a location with big areas of open shade—created by buildings or large trees.

Better—Overcast Days

Overcast days can be great for photos because the light is soft and diffused by the clouds. Since the light is diffused, you can have your photos taken just about any time of the day without harsh shadows, squinting eyes, and bright spots. However, on overcast days there is no sunlight to add variation to your photos and often times the subject can end up blending in with the background. Avoid heavily wooded areas on overcast days as there is not as much light to work with in these areas.

Best—Golden Hour

Golden hour—as known by many photographers—is the last hour before sunset and the first hour after sunrise. During golden hour, the sun is lower in the sky providing soft, diffused light. The light can also have a golden hue to it around this time of day. Areas with tall grass, dirt roads, fields, and other wide open spaces are great options to really showcase this beautiful time of day.

Other Factors To Consider

Some other things that need to be taken into consideration when choosing the best time of day to take portraits outdoors include weather, time of year, location, and type of lighting available. For example, taking photos too late in the day on a cloudy day can reduce the amount of light the photographer has to work with. The same is true for taking photos in fall or winter, the end of daylight savings time allows less time in the day for outdoor photos.

If you still need help deciding what time of day to have your photo session, please feel free to reach out to me and I would be happy to help. Contact me to book your session today!

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