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Five Benefits of Early Morning Family Sessions

Photographers love to capture outdoor pictures in the late afternoon, at a time called the "golden hour", where you can get dreamy, warm pictures with sun flare, long shadows, and neat silhouettes against a colorful sky. I prefer doing photoshoots in the early morning hours, and always suggest that time of day to my clients. I recently had the joy of photographing a family who didn't balk at the idea of being all pretty and ready for an 8 a.m. stroll around Old City in Philadelphia. Why are mornings my favorite? Oh, there are so many reasons...

Family picture in old city philadelphia


... most of the time. Obviously there are always some people who are not early risers, but in general, early in the day is the time when kids are happiest and most willing to get photographed. Kids seem to love getting up early - mine do anyway. As far as I'm concerned, if I'm awoken at 6:30 a.m., I feel like I got to sleep in! If your kids are already roaming around the house at the wee hours of the morning, why not do a photoshoot then?

These sweet guys were so ready and excited to have their pictures taken. They were so much fun to photograph and the whole sessions went very smoothly.

Children hugging in old city philadelphia

Children hugging in old city philadelphia

Children hugging in old city philadelphia

We did so much running around, twirling and laughing that this little guy got tired near the end of the session. But he was still up for a couple more pictures after a few minutes of rest.

Sleepy child in old city philadelphia

kid jumping with shadows


In the summer, the golden hour starts around 7:30 p.m., 30 minutes before sunset, and lasts about 30 minutes after. That's when a lot of families have dinner and some kids might already be ready for bed. That's also when kids are most likely to be cranky and we, as parents, are exhausted and start looking forward to their bedtime routine. Is it really a good time to get your annual family pictures then? As a photographer, I will capture the best connections between your family members when we fit the session around your kids' schedule and everyone is in a happier mood. So in the morning, after breakfast, is often a good time to do so.

Family in old city philadelphia

Family in old city philadelphia


If you have a photo session scheduled at 7 p.m., you have to make sure you are home by 5 to give the kids a bath, give them a snack, get them all dressed up, and get yourself dressed up as well. Then you head to the photo session, maybe even hit traffic on the way. On a weekend morning, the kids most likely won't need a bath, you just have to help them get ready, have breakfast, drink your coffee, head over to the session with little traffic. During the session, you will explore, run, twirl, cuddle, jump, laugh and after 90 minutes you and your family will still have the whole day ahead of you to enjoy. If you have a birthday party to attend, a playdate or a family event, the session won't get on the way.

Dad and daughter walking in old city philadelphia

Mom and daughter in old city philadelphia


As a Philadelphia photographer, there's nothing I love more than an urban backdrop to my pictures. However, a city is busy, with lots of people, but if you show up in Center City at 8 a.m on the weekend. like this family did, you get the city to yourself. Most cars aren't even parked on the streets, so you get wide-open, empty streets. It made for a safe photoshoot where the kids could run around and explore, and where I didn't have to worry about people in the background. Last but not least, if you have to drive to your session, street parking is super easy, and did I mention little to no traffic?

Family in old city philadelphia

Family in old city philadelphia


Which is why I don't rely on the golden hour to get beautiful pics. On any given day, there's no guarantee the sun will be shining its golden light on us. During the summer in Philly, you are almost as likely to get a thunderstorm before the sun sets as a sunny evening. In the morning you can also get beautiful light and are less likely to get caught in a storm. It can rain in the morning obviously but a summer storm is less likely to happen. Look at the beautiful light we had at 9 a.m. Had it been cloudy, I would still have been able to capture special moments between this family and use the many beautiful spots Philadelphia has to offer.

dad and daughter in old city philadelphia

Family in old city philadelphia

Also, if you schedule your photo session during the scorching Philly summer, the temperatures will be much more bearable early in the morning than at any other time of the day. By 9 a.m., it was already muggy and uncomfortable. It didn't get any better as the day went on but we didn't care - we were done with the session and doing other fun things with our respective families.

Family in old city philadelphia


My post is mostly about summer, and lots of families love having their pictures taken in the spring or fall. Both seasons have beautiful colors and are a perfect time to schedule your family session. The afternoon golden hour happens much earlier, 4-5 p.m., which is a better time to fit a family's schedule, but the beautiful sun doesn't last as long as during the summer. The mornings also start later, and you can have a wonderful session around 9 a.m. with beautiful light, happy kids, and a not-so-busy city.

dad and daughter twirling

mom and son smiling

This family was a dream to photograph. They were so natural in front of the camera and all very eager to be there. I love that they included their au pair in the shoot, whom they said is like a family member, and it shows in the pictures. There was so much love between all of them.

Family in old city philadelphia

We walked all around Old City, looked for shaded areas and made the best use of the light as possible when going down little alleys. I don't believe doing the same session at 7 p.m., at dinner time, after a long day in 90 degree weather, would have yielded more beautiful pictures.

Family in old city philadelphia

I actually offered them to start the session even earlier, but 8 a.m. worked best for them. I'm available anytime the sun is about to rise above the horizon. There is a family I regularly photograph whose photo session will be at the shore next year, near their house. I'm trying to convince them to do it at 6 a.m., when the sun rises above the ocean. If it's not cloudy, how beautiful and unique would these pictures be!? And even if the sun hides behind the clouds the whole time, we would have the beach all to ourselves to play around in. I know it's a lot to ask to get up so early, but if they are up for it, I'll be there.

While I love morning photoshoots, if late afternoon sessions fit your family's schedule best, I'll be more than happy to take your pictures then. Morning photoshoots are a great option too, and I'm available early, very early.



Check out my Instagram accounts where I post pictures daily: childhood photography @blinckphotography or landscape and street photography @filladelphie.

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