I have preached long and hard about the advantages of photographing anyone or anything at ‘golden hour.’ Jamie‘s family portrait makes it clear why scheduling your session just before sunset or just after sunrise is optimal. Catch all the glorious photos plus a few NYC golden hour portrait tips in today’s blog post.
Golden Hour: The Definition
First, let’s start off with a little science lesson. Golden hour is defined as the hour of time before sunset or just after sunrise when the sun’s position in the sky produces a softer and warmer light with longer shadows. It is a magical time of the day when everything the sun touches is bathed in a warm glow and there are no harsh highlights. In comparison, photos taken in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest suffer from the harshest rays of the sun. This means the light is stronger, plus the overhead position gives your portrait subject under eye shadows. No one needs that.
NYC Golden Hour Portrait Tips
In New York City, golden hour is very much influenced by where you are located thanks to the tall skyscrapers lining the middle of the city. Sunrise is going to be fantastic if you are taking photos near the East River and sunset will be great the closer you are to the Hudson. If you find yourself on the opposite side of the city, then you’ll notice that the sun seems to set earlier on the east side because the skyscrapers have cut off the light, and vice versa on the west side for sunrise.
Timing is an issue in New York City. For example, if you are planning a sunset shoot on Roosevelt Island, then you need to add an extra 30 minutes to your photo shoot start time so that you have enough available light. Nothing is worse than being caught out on a photo shoot and technically having enough time on the clock, but having your subject drowning in horrible shadows because the tall buildings stole your light. Learn from me, grasshoppers.
Jamie and Cliff’s Riverside Park Family Portrait
For Jamie and Cliff’s family portrait session, however, we timed it perfectly. Like Ely and Aamir, this family lives on the Upper West Side and wanted to take photos in the same spot near 61st Street in Riverside Park. [Check out photos from Ely and Aamir’s Riverside Park family portrait session here.] I wanted to make sure their photo shoot unique to them, and so instead of heading towards Waterline Square Park as I did with Ely and Aamir, we headed north and remained in Riverside Park. It is amazing the difference a week makes and the trees that were lit up for Ely and Aamir had lost all of their leaves by the time Jamie and Cliff arrived for their family portrait.
We started off on the same less trafficked pathway as I did with Ely and Aamir. From here I went to an area behind a group of trees so we would have more privacy and could take photos of their little daughter alone. The park was incredibly crowded that day due to the warm weather – it was nearly 80 degrees in October.
From here we walked along the waterfront. These photos of the family along the pier are some of my favorite shots because I could isolate Jamie and Cliff and not have any crowd interference.
Finally, no family portrait session would be complete without a snap or two of the parents alone. Jamie and Cliff looked great, and their little girl was such a trooper for looking fashionable throughout not one, not two, but three outfit changes. Her final outfit was her Wayne’s World Halloween costume alongside her fur-brother. Precious!
Enjoy the images and I’ll have more photo adventures for you next week!
Riverside Park is a lovely spot for a family portrait session; check out my other family portraits in the park here and here.
Interested in scheduling your own Riverside Park family portrait session? Drop me a line and let’s chat.
If you would like to see more images from my family portrait portfolio, then please visit my website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com