Evaluating the light in your home or yard for your in-home photoshoot
You want to have photos taken in your home and/or your yard! Yessssss! I am so excited because, to me, photos taken at your home are so so so special. But now you're wondering...what time of day would be best for photos in our home?
Since I haven't been to your home, that's not something I'm able to tell you. What I can do, however, is give you some tips for evaluating the light in your home or yard so that you can determine what time of day would be best for photos.
You want to mostly or entirely take photos outside
If we're going to shooting primarily, or entirely, outdoors then we definitely need to pay close attention to the lighting. Ideally we would shoot in the first or last couple hours of daylight, however that can sometimes pose some challenges. If your children go to bed at 7pm and the mid-summer sun doesn't set until 9:30pm...dusk is sort of off the table.
Since every home is different and you know your home best, you now need to evaluate your yard and figure out when we'll have the best light.
Step one: look at your yard and decide where you would want photos taken. Do you have a big tree in the front yard with a swing? A kiddie pool that your children love to splash in? A nice deck? Outdoor furniture? A tree house? Chalk in the driveway? Road hockey and bike races on the street? Think about the places in your yard that are beautiful, but also the places in your yard where your children will naturally want to play. Even if you hate that stupid old play set, if you know your kids will end up over there for a while let's make sure the light will be nice.
Step two: once you've decided what parts of your yard you like best for photos, you simply have to watch for shade. Peek outside periodically throughout the day and look for times when these areas are shaded (by your home, the neighbours homes, a tree, etc..). Do this for a few days (primarily sunny days) and make notes.
Case study: at my home, for instance, the back yard is shaded by my house in the early morning. By noon there's not much shade anywhere. In the late afternoon the sun starts setting behind a tree, and by the time dinner wraps up the evening light is just gorgeous in the back yard, and the front yard is shaded by our house. Early/mid morning or after dinner is the best time to take photos outdoors at my house.
Keep in mind that as the seasons change and the length of the day changes, the location of the sun in the sky also changes. A spot that has gorgeous morning light in the spring may not have the same light in the fall, so make sure you evaluate the light in your yard around the time of your shoot.
You want to mostly or entirely take photos indoors
Maybe we're photographing your newborn baby, maybe it's the winter, or maybe you have a big beautiful home but the yard still needs work. No problem! Let's take photos indoors! But first, let's figure out the light.
Step one: decide which rooms in your home you will want to use for photos. Your living room? Play room? Bedrooms? Nursery? Maybe even your kitchen?
Step two: once you've decided which rooms in your home you would like to use for photos, you simply have to watch the light. We're looking for the room to be bright, without direct sunlight coming in the windows (unless you have light/sheer curtains that we can use to diffuse the light). Do this for a few days (some sunny days, and some darker/cloudier days) and make notes.
Case study: in my home, for instance, my living room (which is also our play room) gets a TON of morning sun. Too much morning sun. By late morning the sun is high enough that the room is bright, but not sunny. In the late afternoon/evening my living room can be a little dark, which wouldn't be great for photos. Bingo! Late morning/noon/early afternoon would be the best time for indoor photos in that part of our house.
You want to take photos indoors as well as outdoors
Amazing! Photos taken both indoors and outdoors will provide you with a really robust gallery with some really great range.
To evaluate your home for indoor and outdoor photos, simply do all the above steps. Evaluate both your yard and the important rooms inside your home, and then see where we can do a little overlap.
Case study: we've established that my home has good outdoor light in the early/mid morning, and good indoor light late morning/noon/early afternoon. The best choice for photos that are 50% outdoors and 50% indoors would be to start taking photos outdoors mid morning and then head inside for some photos in the living room in the late morning.
A final option
Do you have your heart set on taking photos of your family having a pancake breakfast? An evening BBQ with the cousins? If you have an idea for an activity that's based on time of day (an idea that I loooove, by the way) then screw the light! Let's run with it and we will find light that works. There is absolutely always a way to make it work!