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The Best Weather for Family Photos

Do you have a particular ideal forecast in mind? Is less than ideal weather ruining the vision you had for your family photos? Let's go over the pros and cons of golden hour, overcast, and full sun photos!

Overcast, sun poked through in the fall (left) and overcast in the fall (right)

Minnesota is known for being all over the place with weather, especially in the fall, so it can be frustrating to try to plan around the weather for your family photo session. Fall is the busiest time of year for photographers, so rescheduling may or may not be an option if you want those photos for holiday cards. Summer offers loads of sun, but later session times may be hard for your family if the toddlers have a 7pm bedtime. This post will help you make the best decision for your family session when it comes to weather changes.

Golden hour in the fall

Why Overcast Days Can Be Great

  • In the summer cloudy days will provide cooler temperatures, which is good news during a hot streak in Minnesota.

  • In the summer cloudy days mean you can bump your session time up.

  • Sometimes the sun peaks through at the end of an overcast day, which means more dramatic sunsets.

  • Clouds create a natural light filter, which means the light is soft and even. No harsh shadows.

  • Not all clouds are created equal! Heavy overcast looks much different than a thin layer of clouds that lets more light through, and that looks different than sparse, fast traveling clouds.

All considered, clouds aren't bad. Beautiful moments can still be captured beneath some clouds. Sometimes people shy away from cloudy photos simply because it's a stylistic preference. If getting that warm, golden glow or backlit photos is what you're after, you may want to consider rescheduling.

Overcast in the fall (left) and mostly sunny in the fall (right)

Considerations if You Opt to Reschedule due to Clouds

  • I don't charge a reschedule fee for the first reschedule or at all if someone is sick. After that, I do charge a small fee for a reschedules due to preference.

  • The weather may still be the same even with a reschedule. We may see some sun in the forecast, but that can always (and often does) change.

Some Solid Reasons to Keep Your Session Date Even if it's Cloudy

  • You have very little flexibility in your schedule, which means your session date would be pushed out months.

  • It's nearing the end of fall. It will get COLD soon people.

  • Your photographing an important milestone, and waiting just doesn't make sense. The baby will be out in a few short weeks...In another month your six month old will no longer be six months...You get the idea.

  • The date may not be ideal. Weekends tend to fill up fast for all photographers. If you had a weekend slot before, you may have to move to weekday spot instead. I try to leave some room in my calendar for reschedules, but sometimes there's still a conflict. Depending on the season, my own family schedule, and othe reschedules, things could be full for a few weeks.

Sunshine in the springtime

Why Golden Hour Can Be Great

  • The light is soft and warm and gives the photos a golden glow.

  • Your photographer can play around with the light more. Backlit, sidelit, and front lit photos are all game.

Why Golden Hour May Not Be Ideal

  • Your kids have an early bedtime, and golden hour isn't until late due to the time of year.

  • It feels overdone, and you're looking for something less traditional.

In my opinion, you can't go wrong with golden hour photos. It is the standard for best lighting for photos...and there's a reason for it! Skin tones look yummy, and the photos are soft and dreamy.

In Support of Full Sun Photos

  • The vibe is bright and cheery.

  • Full sun can create harsh shadows, which can add some drama to your photos.

  • The timing may be more ideal.

Why Full Sun Photos Sometimes Don't Work

  • Harsh shadows...depending on how they're used, they can hide certain details and highlight others and make photos look terrible.

  • It's too hot. During the summer near Minneapolis, afternoon photos may not be ideal.

Sometimes full sun photos are good option if bedtime is early and the location also has some shade.

Overcast in the fall

Hot and Cold Temperatures

  • August in Minnesota can bring sweltering days or pleasant ones, and one week can be pretty different from the next. If you feel the temps are too hot for you or your kiddos, chat with your photographer about other options. Just remember, if you opt to reschedule, you'll be pushing it into busy season, which may mean waiting a bit longer for your photos.

  • Fall temps in Minnesota are even more erratic. For example, this year we hit 65 in November, but the end of October was frigid. Sessions can still totally work on colder days with layers, bringing jackets to warm up, and taking breaks. But if your kids can't tolerate it, it may be worth it to hold out. The weather can do crazy things, and you may catch a nice day, even in November.

  • Just keep in mind that any time you reschedule, you run the risk of more less than ideal weather and not having your photos in time for that milestone or holiday card.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

  • Backdrop colors and textures will have a huge impact on the overall look of your photos. Summer comes with lots of lush green foliage. Fall brings pops of color and neutral backdrops.

  • The seasons impact the light. During the summer the sun will be more bold because of its position in the sky. Wintertime brings cooler tones and magenta undertones.

  • Outfit colors will also impact the look of your photos. My editing style is warm, and I enjoy photographing rich, earthy colors.

  • Location is also important. Your location might have a lot of shade, in which case heavy overcast may not work well. Your photographer will let you know if the lighting won't suit the location.

Heavy overcast in backyard shade in late summer

Finally, pay attention the vibes in the photos you see here. They're all very different, even though the editing is consistent. Backdrop colors, outfit colors, AND lighting are all huge determining factors in how the photos look and feel. If you have a specific vibe you'd like to achieve or certain photos that you like, be sure to communicate with your photographer about that! She'll be able to give you advice on outfits, location, and what to do when lighting isn't your preference.

You hired your photographer to think through all of this for you and communicate her recommendations. If you're open and honest with your photographer about your wishes, it'll be pretty easy to make a decision when it comes to weather changes. And ultimately, gorgeous photos can be created no matter the weather or season!


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Located in Minneapolis, Kara Joy Photography is a lifestyle & documentary photographer who specializes in newborn & family photography. She's known for capturing raw emotion & authentic expressions through a laid-back approach. Her unforced images have a glaze that is natural yet polished. The cherry on top? A quick turnaround time.

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