When To Schedule A Beach Photo Session | Hilton Head Photographer


This post has been a long time coming, and I wish I would have written it sooner so I didn’t have to sound like a broken record talking about this… buuuuut here we go!

When scheduling a session, there’s lots to take in to account.

  • Where are we shooting?
  • Where does the sun set (or rise)?
  • How many people?
  • What’s the purpose of the shoot?

But the most important one when shooting on the beach is… When does the sun set. 

You’ve probably heard about Golden Hour. And yes, it is all it’s cracked up to be. Do you ever find yourself driving down the road in the evening and you’re just overtaken by this immensely happy feeling because everything is so on fire and cheerful? (Maybe that’s just me because I love light so much ?). But THAT is Golden Hour. It starts about 1.5-2 hours before sunset and is the prime time to shoot.

Something you may not know is that Blue Hour follows Golden Hour. Have you ever noticed that when the sun finally disappears, but before it actually gets dark that everything is kind of blue? I didn’t know about Blue Hour until I got really knowledgeable about lighting scenarios and now I’m fascinated! In case you’ve never noticed it before, here are a few images I’ve shot during Blue Hour ??.

Interesting, huh?!

For locations that have a lot of shade, we can shoot any time during the day. For locations that have spotty shade, I like to shoot early in the morning or early in the evening. But for the beach, I like to start about 50 minutes before sunset. So in June/July/August when sunset is at 8:30pm, we would start shooting around 7:40pm. This gives us that dreamy Golden Glow, but also gives the sun time to get juuuust below the tree line so it isn’t as harsh, blaring everyone in the eyes, and casting terrible shadows on faces.

Now I know what you’re thinking… if you’re coming down here for vacation, you’ve probably got extended family with you and you’re bound to have some little ones with early bedtimes. I get it. I know schedules are important and nobody wants a cranky kid. But just know if you ask to shoot earlier in the day (5, 5:30, 6:30, even 7pm during the summer) you probably aren’t going to love your pictures.

Another option might be to do a sunrise session! In the summer when sun rises at 6:30am, we would start shooting around 6:40am which tends to be a better time for families with younger kids since they get up so early. Here are some examples from a sunrise session.

If you’re adamant that you just can’t make the time work for your group, then maybe this just isn’t your season! In October when the sun sets at 6:55 we can start shooting at 6. Maybe you can plan your trip around a different season (which will also have it’s own set of benefits like not having to deal with the Saturday evening check in traffic to get on the island.) Also in October, the sun rises at 7:20am, which means we can start shooting at 7:30am.

Ultimately the decision is up to you. If you insist on shooting more than an hour before sunset, I will oblige your request but I just want to be completely transparent with you that you probably won’t love your gallery. There’s only so much I can control with my camera when it comes to shooting and the position of you in relation the sun. If you’re positive that these things won’t bother you, then let’s do it! We’ll shoot at 6:00 on a summer evening. But family portraits are going to be an investment, and I want to make sure you are completely satisfied with your experience. ?


Regardless, your pictures will be beautiful!


xoxo, Elle

July 3, 2021





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