Portrait photography can be a great way to capture memories of friends and family, or to create stunning pieces of art.
However, good portrait photography takes planning and skill.
Photographers need to consider the time of day, the location, and the clothing or props that will be used.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the best times for outdoor portraits.
Planning an Outdoor Portrait Photography Session
When it comes to planning a portrait photography session, photographers are often faced with several questions.
One of the biggest questions is what time of day would be best for an outdoor photo shoot?
Some people may think that early morning is the best time for photos because there’s not as much sunlight and everything looks fresh and new – but many professionals will tell you that the best time for outdoor portraits depends on a lot of factors and there are numerous “best times” depending on the look and feel you are going for in the image.
Let’s look at some of the best times for outdoor portraits.
1. Blue Hour
Blue hour is often considered to be one of the best time for outdoor portraits because it’s great for capturing natural light without any harsh shadows.
Blue hour tends to last about 30 minutes, and gives photographers a soft, cool light that looks beautiful in images. But what exactly is blue hour?
Technically speaking, blue hour refers to the period of twilight that occurs just after sunset and right before sunrise, when the sky is lit up with a rich blue color.
This time of day typically produces some of the most beautiful and soft light for photography, making it one of the most popular times for portrait shoots. Blue hour is a great time if you are going for a moody look.
Another advantage of shooting at blue hour is that there aren’t as many people or vehicles on the streets, so you can often get access to locations that would normally be too crowded during the day.
The only downside to blue hour is that it’s a very short window of time, so you need to be prepared and know exactly what you want to capture before the light fades away.
2. Golden Hour
If you’re looking for a warm and glowing light, then golden hour is also one of the best time for outdoor portraits.
Golden hour occurs right after sunrise or before sunset, when the sun is low in the sky and casts a beautiful golden light.
This time of day is often considered to be the most ideal for photography, as it provides a warm and flattering light that can make even the most ordinary subjects look beautiful.
While golden hour might be the best time for outdoor portraits, there are a few other factors that may make it more or less ideal for your photography session.
These include things like the weather, the natural light in your location, and even the clothing or props that you plan to use in your portrait.
Ultimately, it’s up to you as a photographer to choose the best time and location for your shoot, based on what you want to capture and the look that you are going for.
But with so many options available, it’s easy to find a time of day that works well for both you and your subjects.
3. Morning Light
Morning light is often overlooked as a good time for outdoor portraits, but it can actually provide some beautiful soft light that is perfect for photography.
The key to using morning light is to find a location that gets direct sunlight, such as an open field or park.
Then, you can position your subjects so that the sun is behind them, which will create a soft and flattering light.
One advantage of shooting in the morning is that there are often fewer people around, so you can get access to locations that would normally be too crowded during the day.
Additionally, the air is usually more still in the morning, which can make for better photos since there won’t be as many distracting elements like trees or flags moving in the wind.
The downside of shooting in the morning is that the light can be quite harsh, so you’ll need to be careful about how you position your subjects.
Additionally, the sun rises quite quickly, so you’ll need to be prepared to shoot as soon as the light becomes available.
4. Evening Light
If you’re looking for a softer, more diffused light for your outdoor portraits, then evening light is often a great choice.
This time of day provides excellent opportunities for shooting romantic and moody images, as the sun starts to set and the natural light takes on a warm and beautiful glow.
There are many other factors that can affect the quality of light in the evening, such as the weather and the time of year.
But overall, evening light is often very flattering and can provide some stunning results.
The only downside to shooting in the evening is that it can be quite difficult to find a location that has good lighting. Additionally, the light fades quickly in the evening, so you’ll need to be prepared with your camera and equipment.
5. Middle of Day
Even though the middle of the day is often considered to be the worst time for photography, there are actually some great opportunities for outdoor portraits.
The key is to find a location that has diffused or soft light, such as under tree cover or next to a building. Then, you can use this soft light to your advantage by positioning your subjects so that the light is behind them.
Photographing out in the open when the sun is directly overhead will produce a hard light.
One advantage of shooting in the middle of the day is that there are often more people around, which can provide some interesting background elements for your photos.
Additionally, the light is usually quite consistent during this time of day, which can be helpful if you’re planning to shoot a series of portraits.
The downside of shooting in the middle of the day is that it can be quite harsh and unflattering, so you’ll need to be careful about how your subjects are positioned.
Additionally, because there is more ambient light during this time, it may be difficult to achieve a softer look without using artificial lighting techniques.
But let’s say you are going for a vogue fashion look and want that hard light, then the middle of the day would be the best time for you. See how there is no one “best” time — because it all depends on the look you are going for!
If you’re looking for a truly unique and dramatic look for your outdoor portraits, then consider shooting at twilight or night.
This time of day can provide some stunning results, as the atmosphere of this light is mysterious and moody.
One advantage of shooting at twilight or night is that there are often fewer people around, which can provide some interesting background elements for your photos.
Additionally, the light is usually quite consistent during this time of day because you are often dealing with moon light, which can be helpful if you’re planning to shoot a series of portraits.
The downside of shooting at twilight or night is it can be very dark which means you will need to rely on artificial lights such as light poles or other light emitting objects.
You will also need a good camera that can handle high ISO values without creating a lot of noise in the photo.
In conclusion, there is no “one best time” for outdoor portraits. Instead, it all depends on the look you’re going for and the quality of light that you desire.
So take some time to experiment with different times of day and see what works best for you and your subjects!
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer and writes mostly on those topics. Nate runs his own professional photography business called Nate Torres Photography. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also a photography speaker and author on Photofocus.