Resources for Timing Photography Sessions

Just like getting ready for award season, there is a lot of planning and behind-the-scenes production that goes into orchestrating a photography shoot. There are a multitude of factors that need to be taken into to consideration well in advance of a session and of the list lighting and time of day (for said fab lighting) are by far the most important, especially in Hawai'i. I always encourage couples to choose incredible and meaningful locations for their sessions, and as they do a fabulous job picking some ridic spots, it's my job to make sure the light is just right. Being a part of an island chain with magnificent and vast mountains smack dab in the middle sure is spectacular for scenic vistas but a pain in the ass for optimal lighting. Considerations need to be taken well in advance for where on the island you plan to shoot in relation to sun positioning.  Consider this: the sun sets on the west side of O'ahu leaving less light on the east side later in the day. Combine THAT with a giant mountain range the sun dips behind at least 2 hours prior to sunset, and you're left with a small window of shoot time options at your favorite spots. And here's hoping you didn't plan on waking up for sunrise on Maui because there is a GIANT VOLCANO BLOCKING YOUR VIEW over there. Who would have thought?  Well, not me until I did it. Not being familiar with your location ahead of time anywhere can leave you feeling in the dark and for photographers who have the pleasure of traveling to the Hawaiian Islands are left with many questions on the best time of day to shoot certain places. Being on O'ahu has given me the advantage of taking note of lighting conditions at different parts of town throughout the day as I am always jotting down reminders like "pretty golden light at 4pm in chinatown", however planning for unseen locations on other islands or the mainland need a bit more research.

Scheduling this session with Diana + James (shot in film!) we knew if we wanted to shoot close to Makapuu light house on the south-ish side of the island, that sunrise would be the best for golden light. Since we used the shoreline as our backdrop, we didn't have to worry too much about mountain ranges and were thankful for the slight rocky valley we were situated in--the boulders gave a good source for blocking out the sun's direct light as it rose from horizon, allowing us to shoot longer into the morning.

There are these handy resources to help perfectly time a shoot:

Rise: A beautiful iPhone App, Rise gives you the sunrise, sunset, first light and light last times of desired dates and locations, as well as the weather...if you weren't already thinking enough. This is the first app I open when orchestrating a session time. Once I get a general idea of sunrise or sunset times, I hone times based on location using SunCalc.

SunCalc is "a little app that shows sun movement and sunlight phases during the given day at the given location". Genius for helping figure out the best time of day to shoot at desired spots and gives you a little geographic insight on surrounding areas.


+ if you're ever on island and completely at a loss of where to schedule a shoot--holler. I will be more than happy to help out.