Capturing the Best Shots: Understanding How Different Times of Day Affect Your Photographs

Couple kissing in the ocean

As a west coast photographer, I am constantly reminded of how crucial lighting is in creating stunning photographs. The quality and direction of light can drastically affect the mood and overall look of your images and it’s important to think about your ‘vibe’ as you book the timing for your session. The most significant factors in lighting is the time of day (duh, haha), but it’s essential to understand how different times can affect your photos. So here’s a little guide to help you choose what’s best for you.

Golden Hour

You’ve probably heard this term by anyone in your life who has picked up a camera. The most popular time of day to shoot photos is during the golden hour, which is the ooey-gooey last hour before sunset (or sometimes the hour after sunrise – mind you, that can be tricky here on the coast because morning fog is a popular thing here). During this magical time, the light is soft, warm, and golden, creating a magical and dreamy look to your images. The sun is low in the sky, which creates long, flattering shadows and a beautiful glow that enhances skin tones and landscapes. Shooting during this time can be incredible for beach photos, where you get the warm tones of the sun add a stunning contrast to the cool tones of the ocean.

Midday Sun

Midday sun, on the other hand, is generally considered the ‘least favorable’ time of day for photography. The light is harsh, and the sun is directly overhead, creating unflattering shadows and causing people to squint. However, with some techniques and equipment, you can still create stunning photos during this time. I personally don’t mind shooting in the midday sun – I think it creates a more bright and dramatic look with higher contrast. Just don’t forget to bring that sunscreen!

Blue Hour

Another popular time of day for photography is the blue hour, which is the hour before sunrise or after sunset. During this time, the sky takes on a beautiful blue hue, which creates a moody and dramatic look. Shooting during the blue hour can be extra beautiful for cityscape photos, where the light creates a striking contrast between the bright city lights and the blue sky. I also personally like to extend my engagement sessions into blue hour so we can get a little variety in their images (and because I dig the mood).

In the end, understanding how different times of day can affect your photos is important to know when scheduling your session with your photographer. Think about your location and vibe you’re going for…. think about what you’re wearing and the time of year. Are you getting photos taken in the redwoods or near a mountain range (these both require a special adjustment for lighting/time of day). It’s important to think about lighting and the best time of day to get the perfect amount of light. Do you feel stuck or don’t know the best timing? Don’t you worry! Ask your photographer for their professional guidance…. better yet, reach out to me here! 🙂

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