Working outdoors year-round, you get to notice what each of the seasons has to offer and love the change that each brings. A client recently asked me when the best time of year is for outdoor photos; as each season has it's advantages, I thought I'd share what you can expect from your family photoshoot at different times of year. As I'm also often asked what to wear on a family photoshoot, I also share some colour palette recommendations for each season.
After a chilly winter, the warmer weather that spring brings is often when my outdoor photography year starts to get busy. At the beginning of the season (early March) you may find the trees can still be quite bare, but as time progresses, blossom and flowers will start to sprout and can make a beautiful background for your images.
When the green shoots are just starting to show, or if there is a lot of white blossom on the trees, it is great to add colour through clothing - pastel colours can work very nicely alongside spring greens.
April is usually bluebell season - the timing of the bluebells varies each year depending on how warm or harsh a winter it has been, but I'd usually plan to book the last two weeks of April or first week of May for anyone wanting a photo session among the bluebells.
As May progresses, other flowers will begin to bloom and there are some amazing spots around us that have beautiful flowering foliage including Windsor Great Park and Langley Park.
Where we are using a flowered area as the backdrop for your photos, I'd recommend pale pastels or neutrals and blues which can work well alongside the colours of the flowers.
Weather can be unpredictable during spring (remember this year we had snow twice in March!), but rain showers tend not to be long-lasting so I find most sessions usually go ahead or it is possible to move them by an hour or two to avoid any forecasted rain. Layers are really important so that you can add or remove clothes should the weather be changeable - it can also add another colour dimension into your session if you want to try a variety of looks!
As the weather warms up, the days get longer and the sun gets higher in the sky. This can make for slightly more challenging conditions for photographing as a bright sun can cause harsh shadows and may make us squint - not a great look for your photos. To avoid this, I tend to schedule summer photoshoots for early (9am) or late (5pm) in the day, and will always ensure our location has a good amount of shade.
The advantage is that the weather is usually (not always!) warmer, drier and a bit more predictable. Also, when photos are taken in the shade it can be a really flattering light. Earlier in the season there will be a lot of bright green around, particularly from grass. This is another reason for seeking shade as bright sunshine will reflect off the grass, giving us a green hint to our skin (and who wants to look like the Hulk in their family portraits?!).
To work with the bright green, I suggest bold and bright colours - primary colours of reds, blues and yellows or bold pinks all combine well.
If you're not a bold colour kind of family, then neutrals can also work well with the greens. As we move further into July and August, particularly if we've had a warm summer, the grass can also start to dry out and will become more neutral and straw-coloured - so I find it's best to work with this, wearing neutrals or pale blues and greys.
If the day we photograph on is particularly warm, please bring plenty of water to avoid dehydration - thirsty overheated kids will not make happy models. We'll aim to keep to the shade as much as possible, but it's also worth popping on some sunscreen - please apply this at least an hour before your session to avoid any white marks showing on skin in your photos.
There are benefits and disadvantages to an outdoor family photoshoot in autumn - the season brings warm rich colours as the leaves start to turn along with a soft golden light, however, the weather can also become very unpredictable. Even on a dry day, the ground may be wet underfoot from rainfall on preceding days. Despite all this, I love the richness that autumn colours and light bring to photos!
Being an outdoor photographer requires flexibility - if rain threatens, we may move your session back or forward an hour, or we may have to postpone to a later date. Alternatively, I don't mind the rain and my equipment is all waterproof, so if you have kids that love splashing in puddles, it can make for lots of fun!
The colours in autumn are rich and bold, so clothing needs to work with this - yellows, reds, oranges all look great for a toned look to your images, whereas blues make for great contrast. If you prefer something less vibrant, then navy, neutrals, browns and burgundies are all good options.
Last year, I wrote a blog post all about autumn photoshoots, with lots of advice on what to wear which is worth reading if you're considering booking an autumn photoshoot for your family.
Similar to Spring, as the weather can be changeable, bring layers in case it gets warmer or colder; and even a change of clothes if your kids are the type to fall in a muddy puddle.
The great thing about a photoshoot in autumn is that it's perfect timing for photos in time for Christmas, making fab gifts for grandparents and other family!
Last and, well, probably least, we come to winter. I do work outside all year round, and I usually have a handful of photo sessions outdoors from December to February. However, I would suggest that if you're considering an outdoor winter session then you need to be prepared for the following things:
1. Your kids must be the outdoorsy type; if they love to be outdoors in all weathers then they won't mind spending time outside for photos when it's a bit chilly.
2. It generally suits older children (approximately age 7 and up) who are usually better at dealing with the cold, but are also prepared and happy to have their photo taken, meaning the session can run a bit quicker and we can all get back indoors to the warm sooner.
3. You will need to be wrapped up in your photos - this can mean woolly hats and scarves (a great way of adding colour!) and coats - if you don't want to be wrapped up in your photos, then it's better to wait until the warmer seasons.
4. We will need to be flexible - there's a much higher chance of rain, so you'll need a flexible diary in case we need to move your session to a later date (or be happy to head outdoors in literally all weathers!).
With the shorter days in winter, we will be scheduling your session much nearer the middle of the day before it gets too dark - although the sun never really gets high enough to cause the problems we get with harsh sunlight in summer, so we can work anytime in daylight hours (although there are far fewer of them!). Colours in this season are often dictated by the colours that you have coats and warm accessories in, but dark colours such as dark green, navy and rich purples can all look great.
What are you waiting for?...
Hopefully that's given you a good idea of what to expect from all the seasons. If you have your heart set on rich autumn colours, a bluebell session or photos in the height of summer, then please contact me to book your family in. These can all be peak seasons and weekends can be booked out up to a month or more in advance. If you're still not sure what would suit your family, then please give me a call - I always love to chat and we can discuss what might work best for you.