There are a lot of things to consider when booking your outdoor photo shoot. Whether it is for an engagement session or portrait session you want to ensure your images come out looking stunning. Many people book their shoot thinking that the afternoon would be the best time to shoot since there is plenty of sunlight, but this is actually one of the worst times to do an outdoor shoot.
The afternoon light from the sun is often harsh and strong which causes unflattering shadows. While diffusers and shade can help reduce these shadows it still isn’t ideal. So when should you schedule your outdoor shoot?
The Golden Hour.
Any professional photographer will agree that the best time to shoot outdoors is during what is know as the golden hour. This is typically the hour just after the sun has risen or the hour just before the sun sets. It is during this time that the lighting is ideal because the sun is typically at its lowest point in the sky. As a result, the light is soft and diffused which creates less contrast and shadows.
Additionally, during these hours there are fewer people out and about. This gives you the extra bonus of not having to worry about anyone walking in the background or distracting you during the shoot. The glow of the sun at this time will also help add dimension to the background and allow for more detail to come through the images.
How to determine the golden hour?
Since the sun rises and sets at different times every day you want to make sure you plan accordingly. From about March to July the sun will begin to rise earlier and set later and from August to December the sun will rise later and set earlier. Keep in mind that your location will impact the length of time you will have this ideal light to shoot with. As you move closer to the equator the “golden hour” will typically not be as long because the sun moves up in altitude more quickly so the light becomes harsher much faster.
While it may not seem ideal to have to wake early to get in your photo shoot the images you will come away with are well worth this small sacrifice. Most parents also agree that booking their family shoots earlier in the morning was met with less resistance from their children. Keep this in mind when you decide to book your next outdoor shoot.
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Just because you cringe at the thought of having your photos taken doesn’t mean you need to accept the fact that you’ll never have any good photos of yourself. There is a way to overcome your camera shyness and feel comfortable enough in front of your photographer to get the photos you want, whether it’s of you and your loved ones or just you on your own.
Below are three tips that you can use to conquer your upcoming photo session.
- Be as comfortable as possible. Take the time to pick out an outfit that not only suites the purpose of the photo session but one that you feel completely comfortable in too. Wear a color that you love and get your hair and makeup done to give you that extra boost of confidence.
- Practice really does help. Stand in front of a mirror and strike a few poses, get comfortable with your body and your smile. Once you’re feeling better about how you look, use your smartphone or camera to snap a few shots of yourself to see which angles and poses work best. Your photographer will be able to help you with this on the day too but it never hurts to be prepared anyway.
- Why are you doing this? Sometimes focusing on the camera and the person taking the photos is enough to put anyone off, instead rather focus on why you’re doing this shoot in the first place. Are you updating your family albums or perhaps you’re taking a few great shots for a holiday card, keep your mind on the result of the shoot instead.
Remember that your photographer does this for a living because they love working with people. They want to help you achieve the best quality images so have fun with it and trust that your photographer has your best interests at heart.
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OK friends, here are some tips for my beautiful brides…
I’ve learned a lot over the years of photographing weddings…especially that not everyone is super comfortable in front of the camera (I know I’m not). As a bride myself only 2 years ago I remember thinking to myself “so this is what it feels like” and not so sure I liked it. But my photographer was great and as a photographer I know how important it is that I make my brides feel comfortable and beautiful while working my little butt off. But there are some tricks your can keep in mind that will help you help your photographer create the best wedding photos possible.
1. Take a Deep Breath and Relax
Try to be a relaxed and natural as you can. Remember that the more tense you feel the more that is going to come across in the photographs. Sometimes I tell little kids (and some adults) to make a sad face for a few seconds and then smile. It usually loosens them up and relaxes the muscles in the face. If you need a moment to change your facial express go ahead. Something other then smile might make for a good photo anyway, and at the very least it will give you a break from constantly smiling, which I’m sure we all know, can look really painful if sustained for long periods of time.
2. Be in the Moment
Enjoy your time with your new husband. Laugh, tickle, whisper sweet nothings (or dirty jokes). Don’t feel like you have to constantly look at the camera and smile. Embrace your emotions and encourage your man to do the same. Cry, rest on his shoulder, take in the views. Hold hands and kiss. All those make for wonderful, natural moments and get photos. Remember it is all about the two of you and your commitment to each other. Think about the words you said (or are going to say) to each other at the ceremony and really digest the experience. The emotions will show on your faces and will be real.
3. Stand up Straight and Turtle Neck-It
Roll your shoulders down and back. Tighten your core and straight your spine. I also recommend for my brides to do what they call in the fashion industry the turtle neck. You jut your chin out to extend your neck and then bring your chin down. This helps avoid the double chin issue. It is especially good for the grooms who tend to hunch their shoulders and push their chins back into their neck.
4. Hands Hold Something or Each Other
Hands always seem to be an issue for bride and grooms. If you aren’t comfortable placing them somewhere they can feel awkward and in the way. I like to use props. It gives lift to a simple scene and gives my couple something to do with their hands. Another way to solve the hand issue to hold on to each other. Touching your loved one not only relaxes the hand and gives it something to do but it relaxes the entire body. Hold hands, touch his hair or back of the neck, grab his checks with both of your hands…anything.
5. Chose the Right Photographer
You are going to spend the most time with your photographer out of everyone else at your wedding. Find something you feel comfortable with. Meet them in person before you hire them to make sure your personalities are compatible and that everyone feels good about each other. Meet with them several times before your wedding day to really get to know them and they you. I feel more like a close friend by the time I am photographing my couple. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and stay in touch after you have booked them and before the big day. You have to love them as much as you love their photographs.