June 9, 2020

Have a Great Evening Photo Session with Kids | Pittsburgh Photographer

Summer Family Photos

The single most important factor in photography is light.

We're laughing because we love magic hour.

For this reason, I always recommend clients book with me during the time that is one hour before sunset, or one hour after sunrise. This time is sometimes referred to as "magic hour" or "golden hour". And there is a reason for that. It's one of nature's special little gifts to us all. It's glowy and warm and hazy and I'm just OBSESSED with it.

No harsh shadows here, just a cute kid!

When the sun is low in the sky, it's light passes through our atmosphere at an angle. This causes the light is diffused, or spread out. So it's softer. This even glowy light tends to be universally flattering. Mid-day light on a sunny day, on the other hand, creates harsh shadows, which don't look great on anyone. The light is warmer in color at during magic hour, which is also flattering to skin tones. This is also why our sunsets and sunrises often have so many lovely hues.

I could never have had this session in this field in mid-day sun. The evening magic hour light made it perfect!

Perfectly even light in this autumn evening photo.

Obviously, since the sun rises earlier and sets later in the summer, magic hour is earlier and later in the summer. At the height of summer, morning magic hour is around 6:30am. And evening magic our is around 7pm. Yikes. I know that this time is often NOT ideal for families with young kids. So here are a few of my suggestions for having a great magic hour session.

  • Make the photo session "the" event for the day. Especially if you book in the evening, try to take it easy and allow your kids to rest during the day. If your little one has had a full day of adventures and errands, it can be hard for them to enjoy and participate in an evening photo session. You get it.
  • If your child still naps, consider pushing nap time later in the day, so that they will be nice and refreshed for the session.
  • Consider having dinner or a snack before the session so the kids aren't hungry. Even I follow this advice, because no one wants a cranky hangry photographer, either. Ha ha.
  • This is advice I give for ALL photo sessions: try to think of your photo session as a fun family outing and quality time spent together. Talk about it to your kids that way, and try to just relax and have fun!

A photo taken in fall in open shade.

If 6:30am or 7pm is absolutely not an option for you, have no fear! There are plenty of other options:

  • Consider booking a session in the spring or fall. In October, for example, magic hour is around 5pm. Much more doable for many families!
  • On an overcast day, there really isn't a magic hour. Which is sad, ha ha, but that can be good news! If it's overcast, it's totally fine to have the session mid morning, or mid afternoon. In fact, 7pm can be a little too dark on an overcast day. The downside to this is that it is hard to predict when it will be overcast in advance.
  • Open shade is also a good option for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon session. Your images won't be as glowy and golden, but they'll still be awesome. If a mid-morning or mid-afternoon time works best for you, we can book at a location that has lots of shade.

Glowy little toddler halo courtesy of magic hour.