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NYC Elopement Photography || Timing is Everything

Winter is the biggest booking season, and as my calendar has started to fill up for the rest of 2013 over the last three months, I’ve found myself talking timing over and over, so I figured it was probably about time I wrote a blog post about it!

Light is everything in photography, and although I can happily work in any lighting situation, there are certain times of day that are better for your photographs than others. As you plan your day, you should seriously take that into consideration. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the best lighting possible – and the best photographs possible – for your wedding day!

  • If we are doing most of your portraits after your ceremony, schedule your ceremony time for exactly two hours before sunset. So if you’re getting married on say, June 1st, sunset that day is at 8:21pm, so I would recommend a 6:15pm ceremony. If you’re getting married December 1st, your ceremony time will be much earlier – sunset that day is at 4:29pm, so I would aim for a 2:30pm ceremony. I use this handy sunrise/sunset calendar when helping couples plan their timelines.
  • If we’re going to do all your portraits first and then finish up our time together with the ceremony, schedule your ceremony 30 minutes before sunset. For our examples of June 1st and December 1st, I would say 7:45pm for June 1st or 4pm for December 1st. Sunset times really vary throughout the year, so again, I encourage you to consult this calendar when planning your day.
  • The same rules can apply to early morning sunrise weddings – for portraits first, schedule your ceremony exactly two hours after sunrise. For the ceremony first and then portraits, schedule your ceremony for right at sunrise.
  • The above rules are applicable for non-City Hall weddings. For City Hall weddings, unfortunately we don’t have the option of a very early morning or late evening ceremony to take advantage of the best light. So in that case, just avoid high noon as much as possible. There are a couple of good reasons to avoid noon at City Hall. First of all, it’s incredibly busy at that time because a lot of people run over on their lunch break. Secondly, that is when the light is most unflattering and harsh outside. The sunrise/sunset calendar also lists solar noon.
  • So what times are best for City Hall taking all of the above into consideration? On June 1st, solar noon is at 12:54pm, so I would recommend starting portraits at 7:30am or 8am and then heading into City Hall at 9am or 10am; or if afternoon is better, arriving at City Hall at 3pm, and then doing portraits whenever we finish the ceremony. The morning scenario would work for a December 1st wedding as well, when solar noon is at 11:45am. But since sunset is so early in December, if you want an afternoon ceremony, I would plan on arriving at City Hall at 1:30pm, that way we’ll have plenty of time after the ceremony to take advantage of the best light.
  • If for some reason you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony at high noon, then we can still work with that. I would recommend making sure your ceremony site has some kind of covering or is in the shade.
If all of this seems complicated, it’s really not. An easy rule of thumb is that the best time for photographs outside is going to be sunrise and two hours afterward or two hours before sunset and sunset itself. So while the actual timing changes throughout the year, the rule always stays the same. And, as always, we will work together on your timeline to make sure you pick the perfect ceremony time. So if you’re unsure, just let me know, and I can tell you what the best timing would be on your particular wedding date.

That sunrise/sunset calendar is like the centerpoint of all my session scheduling. High five!