Best time to shoot outdoor portraits

Best time to shoot outdoor portraits

Best time to shoot outdoor portraits


Have you ever wondered what is the best time to shoot outdoors? This post will provide you with some clear answers for a question customers ask frequently:“What is the best time to shoot outdoor portraits?”

Best time to do a location photoshoot


In fact, a skilled photographer should be able to deliver great results anytime. Even in a harsh midday light when the sun is blazing away on full power creating those nasty shadows on the human face.

I love being able to commence my photo session during golden hour. Especially in the late afternoon. Golden hour is a time of the day when the sun is low in the sky, usually just after sunrise or before sunset. Imagine sitting on a beach with a drink in your hand watching the sun setting. Throw few clouds in the horizon into the mix, as the sun goes down and the Big Magician sprinkles those magnificent colours all over you. Simply divine! Light, the main magical component, is much warmer and softer than during any other time of the day. As the sun isn’t anymore above your subject, you do not have to worry about harsh shadows that I mentioned before. Overall, light is flattering and it is one of the best times to shoot portraits. People tend to look best when the shadows on their faces are soft and diffused. Your clients will definitely love the final result with magnificent light adding to the mix. Sounds perfect, right? Almost too perfect…
There are some disadvantages unfortunately but this is just life so you should be used to it.


Best time to shoot outside – things to be aware of


As the lighting conditions change so quickly during the golden hour, you have to be prepared to work quickly. Ideally, you need to be prepared upfront. First, be familiar with a shoot location, you don’t really want to waste precious time exploring. Try to visualise shots before you actually commence a session. Also, make sure your client is aware of the whole situation so you can quickly move forward together. Think teamwork, it does pay off greatly in this scenario.
Another thing to be aware of is that golden hour sun can create intense and saturated colours which might be slightly overpowering. This could shift the main focus from your subject to the unnaturally saturated colours. Please have a look at the image below where saturated foliage in the foreground draws the eye away from the main subject.


What to wear to a location photoshoot?

What to wear to a location photoshoot?

What should you wear to a location photoshoot?

So here we are. My very first blog post.  The Idea behind writing blogs is very simple: I want to create informative posts which will answer, in detail, some of the frequently asked questions that my clients might have.

Probably the one I get asked the most is:

“What should I wear for an outdoor photoshoot?” and often more specifically “what colours work best for photos?”.

Many people want to understand what colours to wear to a photoshoot. And generally this is a good start as the right colours can make or break a good photograph. Outdoor portrait photography is by far my favourite discipline. I love the incredible selection of beautiful backgrounds on offer. Therefore an outdoor session results in creative and beautiful portraits. Most importantly natural light is a powerful feature in itself and a vital ingredient in the creation of beautiful, timeless pictures.

People have favourite colours so understanding a little bit of colour theory will help you make the right decisions for clothing on your portrait session.  Let me explain the basics to you.

Colour wheel

Please have a look at the colour wheel below. The colour wheel was invented in 1666 by Isaac Newton; the colour spectrum is mapped onto a circle. The colour wheel forms the basis of colour theory because it shows the relationship between colours. An idea is to use certain groups of colours that have specific relationships with each other on the wheel.  This results in a great contrast of colours and generally works best for photography.




How to read the colour wheel

First of all let’s have a look at the diagrams showing how to actually read the colour wheel in order to pick the right colours that will work best together. I am going to focus on 3 ways of reading the wheel.

Complementary method

The first suggestion is think about the complementary method. The idea is to pick up the colours that are on opposite sides of the wheel. As a result this  combination provides a high contrast and high impact combination. For example if you pick up blue, the complementary colour would be orange, etc. Balance between primary and complementary colour is also something that needs to be considered.


Monochromatic method

This method is based on a variation of a single colour. Be it shades, tones or tints of one colour. A monochromatic scheme tends to create a relaxing and delicate feel. Overall it provides a subtle and conservative color combination and can result in a harmonious look.




Split complementary method

The split complementary colour method  is a variation of the complementary colour scheme. In addition to the main colour, it uses two colours adjacent to its complementary colour. For example if you pick up blue, split complementary colours for blue are yellow and orange. Overall this colour scheme features less contrast making it more pleasing for the eye.


There is lot of different combinations that should work pretty well and your final decision will be based on what colours you do personally prefer and what is in your wardrobe 😉
Also it would be great if you could change your outfits between indoors and outdoors on a location shoot. This might be a little extra hassle for you I know but it should produce two sets of photos that will look as if they were taken on a different occasion. For an indoor session pastels and neutral colours would be the best choice.

What not to wear in photographs?

So having told you what works let’s quickly cover some of the clothes that don’t look good in portrait photography.
  • Colours to avoid: try to avoid white on a sunny day and blacks are very draining and lack shape in photographs.
  • Pastels: always look and work well but make sure everyone is wearing similar shades.
  • Patterns: might can be distracting so best to avoid and tight stripes or dots create the moire effect that you see on TV.
  • Logos: also very distracting so best to avoid because the human eye will be drawn to letters and symbols.
  • Characters: Disney or Marvel characters are popular with kids but they will grow out of this phase and you want the photos to be timeless!