Question: “We were thinking Central Park for the engagement photos. In your experience, what time would be best for photos, morning/mid-day/evening/night?”
Answer: Generally speaking, the time of day is not as important as the weather, the location and how the couple feels. But if it’s a sunny day, then the best time is very early morning: the first two hours after sunrise. That’s when the sunlight is still soft and pretty.
The next best time is late in the day: the last two hours before sunset. Photos can be made after dark too, but they look quite different. If it’s a cloudy day, then it’s best to start a little earlier as the the light runs out sooner than on a sunny day.
For many couples, the best time is simply whenever is practical or convenient. Fortunately, there are ways of shooting even if the sun is bright. The most common way is to find some open shade, which is shade near light from an open sky or a reflective area. This is easy to find wherever there are buildings, trees, overpasses, etc., so it’s no problem in Central Park or almost anywhere else. The other way is to shoot in natural backlight, which is with the sun at an angle behind the subject. This works well too and can be done even in bright sun, although I’d probably still prefer some shade.
I’ve done portraits at pretty much all times of day, and feel confident I can create excellent results regardless of the time. It’s ultimately more important that clients feel comfortable and unrushed. And because the weather is a big variable, the light on the day of the session may be hard to predict if we’re scheduling the session a week or more in advance.
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