Three Things to Consider When Planning Your Family Photo Session in Charlottesville



Kids getting older is just a part of life. Getting to watch those kids get older as an outsider looking in is just so very fun, and such an honor to be invited into.

I’ve been photographing this family since Matilda was a wee little one. Think toddling around and bouncy baby curls. We’ve done sessions at home in pjs (a forever favorite),  outside in the summer for an al fresco meal and popsicles, a session at a local park in their neighborhood, a session down by the river, and a session with mountain views. This year we focused on gorgeous light, and boy did this evening deliver.

Since we have worked together so many years, there have been varying factors with each session: ages of their kids, nap times, dinner time & bed time, time of year, indoor vs outdoor, you name it.  So, today I’m sharing a three things to think about when planning your family photo session in Charlottesville!


1.Time of Year

-Since the best light for sessions is typically within two  hours  of sunrise or sunset,  the best  light can land at very different times throughout the year. 

-In fall and winter, the sun sets earlier,  so a session start time can be as early as 3pm, which is great for young children.

-In late spring & summer, the sun doesn’t set until 8-9 pm,  so that gives us a start time of around 6pm, depending on the location. The late start time is usually great for schedules with school & work, but can be tricky with dinner & bed time. But, if you plan ahead, kids can be super resilient with the timing!

-For sunrise sessions, I don’t recommend them  in late  fall  or winter because  of the dew and super chilly mornings. They are great, however in spring and summer. It means an early start,  but it  also  means more comfortable temperatures!


2.Age of Your Children

-The age of your children is a huge factor in scheduling, as it can involve nap times, early bedtimes, etc. If you have children that have  an early bedtime, I’d suggest  an  early spring or fall session when the sun sets earlier so that you’re not working against a late sunset time.

-On the other hand, if your  children can handle an evening with a later bedtime in the late spring/summer, we can start a little earlier than the golden  hour window and simply choose a location that has some shade.

-We can also  discuss a sunrise session or an at-home session during the summer that allows for a bit more flexibility. Of course, if your kids are older and have school activities, those later session times can be great! Then, you can head to a family dinner after.

3.Your Photo Session Location

-Depending on the location, your session  start time can vary. If we are doing a session at home,  we can get away with mid-day timing since the light can  be pouring in softly  in  your  home.

-If we are  planning a location that is an open field/space, we’ll need to schedule as close  to golden hour  as we can, otherwise the  light can simply be  too harsh.

-We have more wiggle room when planning a session in a location that has some coverage such as the woods, a building or interesting architecture. There are some locations like UVA or James Monroe Highland that have plenty of shady spots that we can use that allow for atypical  start times.


Scheduling your family session can involve a number of factors,  but you don’t have to do it  alone! I love helping families in Charlottesville and Richmond dream through an ideal photo session for the season of life you’re in. Once you book your session,  we talk through location options in Charlottesville and Richmond,  lighting and all of these details so that you  can simply show up confidently and enjoy time with your family!

If you have any questions about scheduling your family session, or if you’re ready to work together, contact me here.





Amy Nicole Photography has been documenting stories of life and love for over 10 years. Amy is a family & newborn lifestyle photographer serving Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia. She strives to create timeless, genuine and effortless photos for you and your family to enjoy for years to come.

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I take a limited number of sessions each month (plus, I’m a bit of a planner and always account for possible weather and sick days!) I’d love to set up a time to chat with you, hear your vision and answer any questions! 

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