Let's talk about outdoor portrait sessions. Personally, I love them because we have way more options for posing and backdrops plus I can shoot from fun angles and mix up the lighting. But, of course, there are some elements that need to be considered when planning a session outside. That's why I thought I'd take a few minutes to share some best practices for a perfect outdoor session.


The sun is possibly the biggest factor to consider when planning an outdoor photo shoot. High noon may be a good time for a Western showdown, but it's not a good time for taking portraits. Honestly, the best times of day for an outdoor portrait is early in the morning--like right after the sun comes up--and right before the sun sets. You may have heard the term "golden hours"; these are the times photographers are referring to. The sun is softer, the shadows subtler, and the glow heavenly.

Next best to golden hour (in my opinion) is actually an overcast day. No sun and soft lighting usually results in a nice evenly lit pictures. So if it's cloudy or rain is in in the forecast, have no fear. This often is the best time for pictures, especially if you aren't an early bird.

Not that I haven't been known to do sessions midday; I do it all the time. The light, however, is very harsh and can creature crazy shadows. Sometimes this is fun--and artsy, especially if the location has a lot of dynamic to it. The shade will definitely be our friend and the light will be an asset.

The Weather & Seasons

The weather will make a difference in your session. First, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way: rain. Obviously, rain will ruin any session (unless you are ready to get wet). If the heavens open the morning of your session or are threatening to, we can reschedule or move indoors (under non-COVID circumstances). Now, if it's just a super cloudy/overcast day, we can still work with that as I mentioned earlier.

Other weather things you need to think about is the temperature. In the middle of the summer in Maryland, it's going to be hot as early as 9 a.m. and pretty unbearable until the sun starts to set. A good reason to schedule a session during those golden hours. If you can take the heat, make sure to bring along a towel to dab the sweat.

On the opposite end, winter can be a fun time for a session--especially if there is snow on the ground. Just be prepared to bundle up, though Maryland winters are unpredictable and can be reasonably warm in December. January through March, you will likely want to have your winter gear--just picture yourself in an adorable puffer jacket with your scarf and pom pom hat.

When it comes to temperature, spring and fall are usually great times of the year with lovely natural backdrops. Spring brings green and floral settings, while autumn colors and falling leaves create a lovely look of their own.

The season will change the look and feel of your photos--and your outfit choice. It's important to think about what look you're going for and what type of clothing you will be most comfortable in.


The last thing to consider is where you want to take your outdoor photos. There are a lot of amazing locations in Maryland, so you have lots of options. The question is do you want the beach or the forest? A green meadow or city streets? You're going to get different looking pictures based on your backdrop.

The colors and the patterns in your setting may impact your outfit choice, too. You'll likely not want to wear green if you plan on hanging out in a sunflower field and you might want to stay away from busy prints if you want to shoot in graffiti alley.

If you need location ideas, read this blog I wrote with ideas of places to go in central Maryland: https://www.paisleyphotography.com/blog/location-location-location/