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4 Good Reasons to Start Your Portrait Session Early in the Morning

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Light is undoubtedly instrumental in photography. As photographers, we love to put our participants in the best light during our portrait sessions, and the best time for that happens to be... that's right, early in the morning! While waking up early after a long flight towards your well-planned vacation may not sound very exciting at first, we have to say it is absolutely worth the effort. Here are 4 reasons why you should start your portrait session soon after sunrise...

Early morning portrait session 5

1. Magic happens during the "golden hour"

In photography, the "golden hour", sometimes also referred to as the "magic hour", is a short period of time after sunrise or just before sunset, when the sun is still low above the horizon, producing soft reddish light and long shadows. Its name is quite self-explanatory: this is when all the magic happens! The air is fresh, the city is just starting to wake up, the streets are empty, squares and parks are filled with beautifully warm natural light. An experienced portrait photographer knows that this is the time when the colours are deep and rich, high contrasts are minimised, and the combination of warm light and cooler shadows is particularly flattering for the skin tones. For our portrait sessions in Paris, it is a perfect time to photograph in open spaces, such as the area around the Eiffel tower or the banks of the Seine river with majestic Parisian bridges. We apply the same concept for our portrait sessions in London and the idea remains true anywhere in the world of course. Is it worth missing an extra hour of snooze time for a gorgeous glowing morning light and get the best results for your portrait session? Absolutely!

Early morning portrait session 2

2. Easy on your eyes

As the sun travels higher in the sky, the shadows become shorter, the light gets stronger and harsher for the eyes, also creating stronger shadows on faces. You will soon start squinting and searching for your trusty sunglasses, which, as you might have guessed, may not always look great in the photos. While it is still possible to find some shade, to photograph against the light and to use reflectors, the photographer's task becomes slightly more difficult especially when catching some spontaneous moments. We certainly avoid planning a portrait session in the middle of the day, when the sun is in its highest point: a strong overheard light may be interesting for street photography, but simply doesn't work well for portraits.

Strong midday sunlight at the Louvre
This photo was taken at the Louvre at noon: note the strong contrasts.

3. Skip the crowds

You may ask: what about the afternoons then? Why do you prefer morning portrait sessions to late afternoon sessions, when the light is just as nice and soft? The answer is simple: not only we want to get the best light, but also to make your experience as enjoyable as possible. Remember that Paris and London among the most most visited cities in the world. Since most of our portrait sessions take place in such iconic areas as the Eiffel tower, the Louvre in Paris or around Big Ben and the Parliament in London, one cannot underestimate the number of visitors. Early birds catch the worms, says the English proverb, and the one who comes early gets the best chances for an easy, relaxed portrait session without the crowds in the background or right beside you. Therefore, early morning is the best time when you can truly enjoy the city and feel like it belongs to you, while we capture you with your loved ones. 

Early morning portrait session 3

4. Start the day on a high note

What can be better than a good French breakfast on a bistro terrace in Paris? We like to finish our sessions with a few photos of you holding a croissant and a cup of coffee, smiling and planning a day full of sightseeing and exciting discoveries. The day has only started, and one of the missions is already accomplished! As one of our participants said, "I'm not a morning person, but if I had known that mornings in Paris are so peaceful and beautiful, I would have started all of my days here at sunrise!"

Early morning portrait session 7

So, what time are you planning your next portrait session?

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About the Author

Nadia Gric

Nadia Gric

Nadia is passionate about the visual aspect of life and the personalities she meets along the way. Living in the heart of Paris, Nadia never stops exploring the City of Light through her camera and readily shares her knowledge and love for photography.