Often when discussing sessions with clients, most of the time the first question I get is, “what's the best time to take photos?” While there are a couple of different options, depending on where you are shooting and the purpose of the session, for the most part I would say the best time to shoot is about an hour before sunset, or at sunrise. Sunset is arguably the most popular of the two.
This time is known as "Golden Hour", every photographers favourite hour! Despite the name, it can last longer than an hour, depending on the season and location you're in. During golden hour, the sun is nice and low in the sky, softening shadows and throwing warm tones, giving a super flattering, glowy, soft light. I'm a fan of backlighting my subjects (placing them with their back to the sun), and golden hour light is perfect for this!
When booking sessions, I always consult an app that lets me know the exact time the sunset will be. If the session is booked quite far in advance, I will let you know the approximate time we will begin, and confirm closer to the date. Usually in the winter, I will book things a little earlier than normal, as with the setting sun comes the cold and a little extra darkness compared to summer.
A few things to consider:
1. Being on time is very important during these sessions! It is important to start your session on time, or risk losing the light too quickly. Light is fleeting in the evening, especially in the winter.
2. Golden hour comes very early, and very late in the summer months, particularly around the solstice. Consider the time of the sunset or sunrise, and who you are wanting photographed. If you want to shoot at the end of June with your 2 year old, it might not be the best idea. The sun sets super late, so maybe think about doing something later in the summer, or early in the fall, when sunset is not past bedtime for the little people.