All that being said, here is how I break it down as things to consider for choosing when to set up your family photography session:
1. What is the best timing for your family? Do you have a toddler that needs to nap at noon? Do your kids eat dinner at 6pm? Will disrupting a meal and/or bedtime schedule cause meltdown mayhem for the littles (or the adults for that matter)? It doesn't matter what anyone else says, because you know your family best, and scheduling according to your family's needs is the best way to get the happiest subjects in the final photos.
2. Photography aside, what weather do you prefer? Do you thrive in bright sunshiny days, or are you all about the cool, overcast, PNW mornings? No matter what, we can't predict the weather with total accuracy, and while you may wake up for a week straight to gray skies and get sunshine in the afternoon, you might end up with the reverse scenario on our scheduled photoshoot day. However, knowing what weather you prefer can help us to get closer to your desired end result.
3. Do you have a specific shot in mind? If you know you want to be in the middle of an open field that doesn't have any trees, well, maybe an overcast morning would be better, or an evening session during the "magic hour." If you want to do the photos at your home in a room that has one small window, a sunny day might be just what we need to make the shots illuminated just enough. No matter what, we will make the photos work!
4. Most importantly, the subject is more important than the scene. When it comes to photographing families, I believe that it is way more important to focus on the interplay between mom, dad, and kid(s) than to overdo it on the background. It may be a great touch to see the Seattle Space Needle in the background of a shot, or maybe an iconic ferry in the distance, but I would rather have you focusing on being present with your family than worrying about the lighting or landscape. A park may be picturesque, but your baby's leg rolls, chubby cheeks, or little feet are way more memorable.
Is there such thing as magic light? Sure. Are certain lighting conditions better than others? Totally. But we can't always predict when exactly they will be, so I say, focus on the people in the photos and your general hopes for the session, and then let it all go and just have fun. Leave the lighting to me and we'll end up having a blast and getting a story of beautiful photos to show for it.
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.