How To Perfectly Time Your Family Session

May 21, 2021

There are many pieces that go into getting your family documented every year. We all know it’s so much more than just arriving on your session day and getting great photos. There’s booking your session and visioning out you’ll do with the beautiful images we’ll create, deciding on your preferred time of year and type of location, finding outfits for everyone (and hoping they will wear them!), crossing fingers for good weather, planning snacks – all the snacks, stashing treats for motivation, and hoping all along for success so that you can celebrate the chapter of life you are in with gorgeous memories to fill your home.

In the midst of puzzling together all the pieces, however, there is one detail that will automatically set you on the path for a gorgeous outdoor session that will give you photos you’ll treasure forever. (If you envision an in-home or in-studio session, these timing rules don’t apply.) 

But first, a little background perspective. I photograph outdoor sessions in those last couple of hours of the day. Always. Unless it’s an in-home or studio session, I won’t book your session in mid morning or afternoon. Here’s why. When the sun is high in the sky, shadows are the most harsh (which shows all the imperfections in skin) and the light bouncing straight down can end up causing you to have a greenish tone when you’re surrounded by nature. At the end of the day, however, when the sun is low in the sky and shadows stretch long, the light is 1000x softer and creates that magical glow we all swoon over. 

There’s one big problem though: kids’ bedtimes. Am I right!? 

Usually, for our own sanity, we aren’t quick to want to keep our kids (especially babies!) up way past their bedtimes and risk pushing them (and ourselves!) to the brink of break down. Especially since we want our family portraits to be a happy, relaxed, memory-making time. 

But. It doesn’t have to be a one-or-the-other situation though! We can aim for the magic of sunset light while maintaining a healthy respect for bedtime hours and ensuring happy campers. Here’s how: 

It will depend on your flexibility/spontaneity in your parenting, as well as the age of your children, of course, but once you decide the threshold for happy kids/bedtime boundaries, you can plan to book for the time of year that will put your session start time in the appropriate window. 

If you’re totally comfortable (and your kids handle staying up late well), feel free to aim for a late May, June or July family session, when we would be starting around 7 or 8pm. For a lazy, hazy, warm weather clothing palette, I recommend late June or July. 


On the the other hand, if you absolutely cannot see a late session working out for your family, then I recommend booking your session in April or early May, and especially if you need an earlier start time, for mid-late August through to October. If you want to aim for warmer, more comfortable weather, go for late summer/fall. Or if you want the cusp of green popping (depending on Calgary’s unpredictable spring weather!), aim for early spring. 

It’s a lot to think about, but I promise you, timing your outdoor session for the best possible light will make it go from good to outstanding. And even if you have little ones that have tighter schedules, it is possible to time your outdoor session so it’s incredible! Whether we head west to Canmore or Banff area, east to Drumheller, south to Waterton or stay local to Calgary, it’s all about timing your session for the most success, both with your kids as well as the light. 

If you’re reading this and you haven’t booked in your family session for the year, let’s connect. You’ll never regret being intentional to have gorgeous family portraits. 

Cheers, 

Breanne

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