Have you seen stunning golden hour family photos on social media, but are afraid your children won’t cooperate if you book your session during that period? I have the solution for you! Here are my tips on how to plan your golden hour family session.
First of all, what is the golden hour?
The golden hour is a 90-minute period that takes place right before sunset. During this time window, the light is soft, even and golden. Since we live in a Nordic country, the moment when the golden hour happens varies greatly depending on the season. You can use the website www.suncalc.net to precisely determine when the golden hour takes place on a specific date in your city.
Why is it the best moment for outdoor sessions?
The word « photography » literally means « writing with light ». Therefore, its quality has a huge influence on the aesthetic of the photos and the course of the session. As a rule of thumb, photographers aim to use a soft and even light when creating portraits.
Contrary to what some people believe, the middle of the day should be avoided during outdoor sessions. In fact, the period between 11AM and 2PM is the worst for outdoor sessions if it’s not an overcast day! Since the sun is at its highest, the light will be to its strongest. This will create uneven shadows on your face and will make you squint. To avoid this, we will have to stay in open share during the whole session, which will greatly limit our options and give a cool tint to the images.
Hence why the golden hour is so loved by photographers. Since its light is soft and even, it’s our favourite moment! Not only will it prevent you from squinting, but its gorgeous golden light will add a magical touch to the images that isn’t present earlier during the day.
I can now hear you say loudly: « I understand why the golden hour is loved, but my children go to bed around 7PM. There is no way they will cooperate past their bed time! »
Don’t worry! If you had a look at my work, you probably saw that several of my clients still choose to do their session during this period. We always manage to create breathtaking photos, even if the session takes place around bed time! There are several ways to place all odds in our favour and have a positive experience for everyone involved.
Here are my tips on how to plan your golden hour family session.
1. Pick your session date according to the sunshine period
As explained at the beginning of the post, the moment when the golden hour happens varies greatly depending on the season. During the summer solstice, it begins around 7:30PM. If your session takes place close the longest day of the year, the golden hour will begin later in the evening. This is what scares most parents!
If this idea gives you nightmares, favour a spring or fall session when days are shorter instead. The golden hour begins around 5:30PM at the beginning of these two seasons. If you love snowy landscapes, we can even do an outdoor session in winter! The golden hour starts around 3PM during the winter solstice, which won’t clash with their bed time. You can read my tips to nail your winter photoshoot here.
2. Don’t do anything tiring during the day
If you want your children to be in their best shape for our session, don’t do anything tiring during the day. Avoid going on a hike, spending the day in the pool or visiting your extended family. Stay at home and take it easy. Do some crafts, bake cookies or watch a movie together. This way, everyone will be as fresh as a daisy when the evening comes.
3. Delay the afternoon nap
Try delaying the afternoon nap by one hour. After they reach a certain age, children naturally try to resist napping. If you’re right in the middle of this period, take advantage of it to make them sleep later than usual!
Some older children can also benefit from a power nap. You can create the perfect conditions to make them fall asleep in the afternoon. Start a nice relaxing movie or soft music, close the blinds and they might fall asleep on their own!
4. Manage their post-nap grumpiness
If your children tend to fall asleep in the car and wake up grumpy, give them extra time to retrieve their good mood. It’s best to arrive at the shooting location 30 minutes early to give them enough time to wake up properly. You can then scout the location with them, re-explain the purpose of the session and your expectations, practise their best smiles, etc.
5. Arrive with a full stomach
We’re all aware of it: it’s hard to be happy with an empty stomach! Make sure you have a nice family supper before our appointment, even if this means you need to eat earlier than usual. This will prevent having little (or big) grumpy monsters during the photoshoot. On top of that, bring mess-free snacks and beverages to keep everyone happy. Saving a fun surprise for the end, like chocolate or candies, is another good idea to get them to cooperate until the very last shot.
Would you like to book a session like this? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to do so!