What time is best for my session?

Timing for your family session is always one of the biggest concerns for parents and photographers.

Photographers want that ideal golden light that’s flattering and glowing on your skin (you want that, too!), but maybe you don’t really want to wake up at the crack of dawn or keep their kids up late and risk complete meltdowns. Those months between May and September can be really tricky here in VA for timing!

The good news is, there are ways to work around timing needs AND honor what works best for your family –

because honestly, it’s not worth the glowy light if everyone’s going to be stressed and miserable.

Our goal is to make photos that are beautiful AND hold special meaning for your family – so we want everyone to be feeling warm and fuzzy, not hangry and flustered.

Set your priority

One thing I LOVE about documentary sessions is that your family is the ENTIRE focus – lighting is not even a consideration.

The session is completely based around what you like to do together and how it fits into your routine.

Biking and lunch on the patio? — Welp, I guess we’re doing our session and 1pm, no matter how sunny it is and THAT’S FINE.


This family loved playing ball and swinging on the playground behind their townhome – they were getting ready to move internationally and their memories in this space were precious, so utilizing the location was an important piece of their session.

We still scheduled for the evening because it was cooler for a summer session, but there was no natural shade in the area where they typically do these activities. The good news is, I’m able to use the environment to make more artistic photos of the action and use light creatively. The shadows are super harsh because of the time of day we started, so it’s not great for more posed, flattering portraits – but totally fine for capturing natural activity.











The alternative

When you’d really like to be told what to do a little more, but also want your photos to look casual and natural, that’s when we’ll opt for an on-location session close to sunrise or sunset.

When scouting for this type of session, I like to suggest locations that have big open spaces with more even lighting so kids can run around and we’re not restricted to tiny cracks of pretty light (one of the reasons why the lower the sun is, the easier that is to find!).


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By helping you understand and communicate your priorities from the photos before your session, we’ll either work together to find a location and time that fits your style and needs, or embrace bold light to tell your story.


  • Golden hour is ideal for flattering light and happens right after sunrise or before sunset.

  • If you want or need a session that’s not in golden hour, it’s going to be more documentary in nature and will have lots of harsh shadows.

  • That can allow for really artistic, authentic images if you’re okay with the look being less posed and more total storytelling.

  • If you want pretty, easy light to run around in, we need to find a shady location or shoot at sunset.

If you’re in Charlottesville and feeling excited about the idea of family photos that will actually be FUN, go ahead and reach out so we can get you on the calendar.

Lifestyle and documentary sessions can happen rain or shine in any season!

client tips, families




What time is best for my session?