Many elements go into making a great portrait of a family, not the least of which is the time of day to take the photograph. Depending on your location you could shoot any time of the day. What determines a great pictures for portraits is avoiding the dark shadows in the eyes and people squinting into the sun. (Often for about 7 months out of the year in Seattle we don’t worry too much about the squinting part 🙂
We also have to think about your family’s ages/stages/ and activities. Even if we have the most gorgeous light at sunset on the beach, it means next to nothing if we’ve got a one year old who is crying and throwing a fit. If you have a lot of after school activities, a tired 10 year old who is hungry also might not be the best subject at this time. Often I have clients that know how special this portrait is and may only do this session once a year or more than likely once every few years, so missing one event in the scheme of things is more important to them.
So first, let’s talk about the ages of the kids and their nap schedule if they are under 5. Next let’s talk about work schedules and flexibility and the ability to either shoot in the morning or schedule in the early weekday evening. Lastly we talk about locations, based on the time of the day we can shoot. Fortunately the Pacific Northwest area has a wealth of settings. We have forests, urban jungles, beach scenes, you name it, we can pretty much match the look you want. (I do travel locally and across the state)
So we figured out the best time of day, and the location, the last piece is the weather/cloud factor. Often I have clients that will say, isn’t is great it’s really sunny out not a cloud in the sky. Actually clouds are the best softboxes for portraits. They provide nice even lighting and less contrast so you are not squinting too much and it evens out skin tones. So please remember we love clouds. Sometimes if the client hasn’t worked with me yet and are a little unsure, theyllla client will see a forecast and want to reschedule a couple days in advance when they see rain. I’ve been a non believer in the strength of the forecast and have sen a perfectly gorgeous afternoon wasted as the skies cleared up and we missed a stellar day. My rule of thumb is to wait about the time it would take us to drive to the location, and if it is not raining we head out. I’d rather wrap up a shoot due to rain than try to reschedule weeks later to connect our schedules.