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The Best Times to Schedule Outdoor Photoshoots

Sharing recommendations on the best times to schedule outdoor photoshoots around Phoenix, Arizona. Good to know if you want natural lighting!

little girl wearing a maroon dress with a bow in her hair

3 Best Times to Schedule Outdoor Photoshoots


As long as there is some kind of light (and sometimes, even when there’s not!) you can capture incredible photos. Depending on what you’re going for style-wise, however, certain kinds of weather and certain times of day might be better than others.


1) Golden Hour


Golden hour is the time shortly before sunset (or following sunrise, if you’re an early bird), where the lighting is gorgeously soft and warm. Golden hour can change throughout the year because sunset and sunrise times change. The light around golden hour can also be impacted by tall objects like pine trees or mountains as well.

For client sessions with sunset sessions, I work backward—first determining what time sunset will be for our chosen location. I take into consideration any location features that could obscure the light any earlier than true sunset. From there, I like to schedule 2 hours ahead as our official photoshoot time.

This gives us enough time to arrive, settle in, and warm up with some initial images. This way, the most natural and magical connections usually start right at the same time golden hour is about to begin.


2) Cloudy Days


Clouds scatter or diffuse light from the sun, meaning harsh shadows are next to nil. There is no easy answer for cloudy days- you have to be able to analyze the light. Cloudy or overcast days can have soft, gorgeous light, which makes for a dreamy look.

They can also be flat, dull, and lifeless because having all shadow and no light makes for a dimensionless blob. By the way, the same can be said of seeking shade on a sunnier day- not all shade is equal!

Cloudy days can also require a lot of constant re-assessing of the lighting conditions because those clouds are usually on the move.


3) Midday


Midday on a bright, sunny day is a time that many photographers avoid. This is because the lighting is hard, meaning shadows will be very abrupt and dark. Especially when the sun is overhead, the dark shadows can fall right under the eyes and nose, making an unpleasant-looking “raccoon” effect. However, you can still take photos during this time of day, and have them look fabulous!


baby daughter wearing a bow in her hair

The trick is controlling how and where those hard shadows fall. That usually means having clients facing their shadow completely, or facing the complete other direction for full sun. Yes, finding shade can add flexibility, but some shade is spotty and some can be overgrown and dark. Taking the time to analyze the lighting conditions and test shots is key.

Midday photos can be just as beautiful with a trained eye and some direction. This time of day lends itself well to high-impact, artsy, documentary, and editorial-style photography.

Part of the challenge in photography is that the light is always changing and on the move. But knowing how to use different light opens up more opportunities for me to take beautiful photos!

Part of the challenge in photography is that the light is always changing and on the move. But knowing how to use different lights can open up more opportunities for me to capture your photos!


Adventure Photography in Phoenix, Arizona


If you’re interested in hiring a professional Phoenix photographer, you can learn more about my photography services here! I also have more tips and recommendations before your scheduled photo session:

And be sure to check out my latest work on Instagram and Facebook.