Afternoon vs Sunset Lighting

This is a very popular topic for all of my clients, especially my mamas! I tend to get a lot of moms nervous about the time of their sunset photoshoot and how it coincides with their children’s schedules. Typically, in the Bay Area, I schedule sessions an hour before sunset, but I am comfortable scheduling a well-before sunset session too. I don’t want to get overly technical on you, but let’s chat about lighting a bit.

The sunset session

Do you like that delicious warm glow in photos? Yup, that’s golden hour, aka sunset! If you are DYING to get that golden glow in your photos, we should schedule your session an hour before sunset! Clearly, this is the time that a lot of moms stress about, especially during the summer when the sun sets later. However, most kids, regardless of their bed time, do just fine at their session during sunset (yes, even babies). So, please don’t let a late photoshoot time scare you because 99% of the time, kids have a blast and do great!

The midday session

The lighting is very different from midday vs. sunset. As I mentioned, you will have a golden glow during sunset, and the light is also a lot softer during the evening. Mid-day light can be a bit more tricky because the light is a lot harsher, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get beautiful images. If you schedule a midday session, we will utilize shade, especially if the light is very harsh. You may be wondering: What does very harsh mean? Well, this happens when the light is very bright and directly over my clients’ heads, which can cause all sorts of funky shadows on their faces. I am able to prevent harsh shadows if I have full control of posing, but that can be quite difficult with young kids! If you have young toddlers, I recommend using complete shade instead of direct sunlight.

Let’s tie it together

Lighting is VERY important for styling your pictures, especially if you want amazing family photos. While I am comfortable scheduling your session at sunset or midday, it’s important to note that lighting looks very different throughout the day. While photoshop can help adjust colors and tones, to get the best photos, it’s always ideal to schedule your shoot during the time of day that matches your vibe the most. Also, don’t be afraid to schedule a sunset session even if it is late because your child will likely rock their session! If you are feeling adventurous, feel free to jump over to my family and maternity portfolio to view more lighting examples!
Let’s look at some sunset sessions:
Sunset session in Lafayette, California. That golden light though…..
This Marin, California sunset session was pure bliss.
Oh, she glows!!! This maternity session was during sunset hence that delicious golden glow.
My goodness… Marin, California, you sure have some amazing golden light!
Mama and her daughter snuggling closely during sunset.
I bet you already guessed it! This sweet photo was taken during sunset.
Another beautiful maternity golden hour session in Marin, California.
This maternity shot was taken an hour before sunset!
This shot was taken roughly an hour before sunset. I faced the family towards the sun giving this photo a rich edit and deep shadows.   
Let’s take a look at some afternoon sessions:
If you decide to book an afternoon session with young kids, we may utilize a lot of shade!
This maternity photo was taken at noon. I made sure to face her towards the sun to get even lighting on her face.
Meet Charlie, my wild child. I took this photo of her in the afternoon. Midday sessions, can be fabulous for rich colored photos!
Here is a photo of me with my sweet son! This image was taken in the late afternoon in Martinez, California. I faced the sun to avoid unflattering shadows on my face.
These are my very own sweet and sassy girls! I captured this moment at noon.
This photo was taken at noon in Glamis, California.


I’m Christina, a lifestyle, maternity, and family photographer in the East Bay Area. As your photographer, my goal is to document your family’s REAL story and honest emotions. I want to capture genuine smiles, silly laughter, and even those sassy moments that your toddler might have! If you are searching for a heavily posed session, I’m not your person. If you want to have fun, possibly rock out to some music, and have a stress-free session, I am most definitely your person!