Best Time to Take Outdoor Wedding Photos
Planning an outdoor wedding but wondering about the best time to take outdoor wedding photos? To achieve the most flattering images, your photographer should work with you to create a wedding day timeline. Every photographer has their own personal aesthetic and shooting style, but for the most part, there are some universal truths about the best time to take outdoor pictures.
1. Early morning: sunrise – 10am
In my opinion, by a slim hair, early morning is the best time to take outdoor wedding photos. Sunrise is advantageous for the same reason as the hour before sunset: the light is gentle and directional, meaning you’re less likely to get harsh shadows. Early morning light also tends to lend a clean, neutral lighting, creating true-to-life coloring.
2. Golden Hour: The hour before sunset
Golden hour is the hour before sunset, and it’s named for the soft, warm light cast due to the sun’s lower position in the sky. Your photographer will likely position you with your backs to the sun, creating a warm honey glow around you. If it’s an overcast day, unfortunately you won’t be able to achieve this effect, but the lighting will still be even and flattering.
3. Late morning and late afternoon
Late morning and late afternoon are both totally doable times to take outdoor pictures. During these times the light is directional, so take advantage of your environment to find some shade, like under a building awning, in the shade of tree branches, under a wedding floral arch or chuppah. You can also turn your back towards the sun, so your photographer can capture your face in even lighting.
4. High Noon or Night
If the day is overcast, you won’t really have an issue with harsh light at high noon, because the cloud cover will help diffuse midday light.
However, if it’s a super sunny day, high noon tends to be the worst time of day for outdoor portraits because the light can create harsh shadows on your faces. The “raccoon eye” effect of having dark eye circles cast from your brow ridge is particularly prominent here. If you must take outdoor photos at this time, try to find some shade cover.
If you have no shade option, try to get your face all in the sun or all in the shade by angling your face and body. For portraits, try tilting your chin up, closing your eyes or wearing sunglasses. Alternatively, you can cuddle together with your spouse with your foreheads touching and chins lowered.
Night is also more challenging for the opposite reason: there is too little light. Luckily, professional photographers are seasoned with creating light with artificial sources, like strobes and flashes. They will understand how to balance ambient light (like from the moon or dim twinkly lights) and artificial light, and how to position your faces so that your faces are evenly lit.