How the sun and weather will impact your photoshoot
I have been in the photography industry now for the better part of 10 years now and one misconception that I hear a lot from people is about the weather you want for your photoshoot. Maybe misconception isn't completely the correct word. Maybe clearing the air on the truth is the better term for what I aim to do with this blog.
I want to start off by disclaiming that I am a Southern Ontario photographer in case we haven't met before. With being in the top half of the northern hemisphere, the weather conditions I experience here may not match the patterns that you see in your area, but the principles that I talk about will still ring true.
What season is the best to have photos taken???
Here in Ontario, we have four distinct seasons that will give your session a different look from each other. I love shooting couples and engagement sessions in all four of them, but for your sake let's go over the pros and the cons to each of them.
Winter: The crisp simpleness of playing the in snow with your babe is timeless and is hard to beat visually. This is probably one of the most distinct seasons to shoot during in Ontario in general which can both be a pro and a con. Some people don't like the idea of hanging a snow photo in their home that they will look at during the height of the summer. Let's be honest and say that none of us want the snow to come back each year, but after it does, we're obsessed with the look of it for photos. The other side to winter photoshoots is that you have to be smart and plan a little extra ahead of time. You have to possibly allow extra travel time, wear layers to stay warm, and we shoot faster in order to avoid freezing.
Spring: I love the look of everything greening up and starting to bloom. It's exciting!!! We lived through another winter. One of the downsides to shooting during the spring can be the amount of mud and possible rain that is common around here. There is nothing that can't be worked around, but if you are looking for spring photos then you're going to have to be flexible and open to changing the session time/date around in order to nail the weather at the perfect time.
Summer: Okay, this is a crowd favourite and a photographer favourite as well. The days are long that gives the ultimate flexibility as far as scheduling goes. Summer as tends to be the best weather of the year here in Ontario. Most years it is super consistent. Summer photos are partly a crowd favourite because they are timeless for the opposite reason as winter photos. You can put them up on your wall and you'll love them all year as we're trained to love summer above all else. Summer can give you some of the best variety for choosing outfits as well.
Fall: Let's talk how cool the changing leaf colours are. Getting photos taken in the fall can come with some of the coolest backgrounds without your location even having to be eye catching. The trees changing colours is a timeless love around Ontario. Algonquin park anyone? Fall does experience some of the same inconsistent weather that spring does though. If you are wanting fall photos, you need to be open and flexible to rain dates.
What about the sun??? The sunnier the better, right???
This is where the word "misconception" that I started this blog off with comes from. Most people have been taught to think that the more light there is available, the better. This is completely true in many senses, but not always when you're outside shooting on-location.
The actual best sky condition for photos is sunny with some clouds. The reasoning behind this is that yes, you do want that gorgeous sunlight for your session, but you also need something to diffuse it. Natural sunlight straight on can be very harsh on the photo subjects creating undesirable shadows and a lot of squinting. We want to make sure we can see your beautiful eyes. The diffusion you get from clouds in the sky is the same idea as a lampshade over a light bulb in your house. When it is just the light bulb alone, the light is very hard and doesn't spread out very well. As soon as you put a lampshade on, the light now lights up the entire room and is softer.
How does sunlight work with each season???
Especially here in Ontario, the sun changes dramatically over the span of the year as the earth moves, tilts, and we go through different seasons.
In the winter, even with clouds in the sky, light can seem really bright and harsh because of the reflects that you get off of the snow. Half to fully clouded days can generally be best from December until February in order to help control some of that light. The other thing with the sun in the winter that you have to consider for your next photoshoot is that the sun sets earlier than it does the rest of the year. Here in Ontario, I usually aim to shoot between 2-4pm in the afternoon. By going by this guide, you miss the harsh, straight above light of mid day and still have time to get some great images as the sun begins to set.
For the spring, my best advice is to keep and eye on two things, the sunset time and the weather forecast. Sometimes in the spring there is no ideal time to shoot. Especially during the rainiest part of the spring, flexible timing is key. I talked about this for the winter, but trying to avoid shooting right at the mid point of the day applies year round.
Summer. The best light season of them all. I personally love summer because around here, the sun sets closer to 8pm at the height of the summer meaning that you have all day to your disposal. This is a huge advantage to some clients as they can schedule a shoot after work/dinner without having to reschedule anything or take time off work. The summer also gives you some of the best golden hours of the year. Golden hour is the hour or so before sunset when you get the beautiful orange light that's soft and creamy. It's always stunning and works with all skin tones.
During the fall, it is a mix between spring and summer. The days are getting shorter so you can't shoot as late into the night, but you get even better golden hours now that the colours of the changing leaves compliment the sun. With the fall, you just have to be careful and watch the weather like in the spring. Rain can change your plans.
So overall, the whole idea of wanting the most amount of sunlight isn't completely wrong. The more light you have, the better chance your photos will turn out amazing. BUT, there is such a thing of too much light or too harsh of light that you want to make sure to avoid. When it comes specifically to picking a season to have photos taken, the majority of that decision comes to the look and aesthetic that you want. There are ways to work around the cons of every season. Talk to your photographer and pick their brain. If they have been in the industry for a while, then they would have worked in probably the majority of everything the weather can throw at you.
As always, I would love to chat with you. Drop me a message on social media with any questions you might have. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok. My handle on all three of them is @quinn.walsh.photography.
Thanks for reading!!! :)