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Bloom Photography Retreat in Waco, Texas: Part 3

Engagement Session at Baylor University

In March 2022, I spent a weekend with seven fellow photographers at the inaugural Bloom Photography Retreat hosted by Anna Kay Photography and Emily Anne Photography. The first day focused on introduction, education, and a family session led by Emily. The second day included not one but two mini engagement styled sessions led by Anna.

The engagement sessions focused on posing couples, ways to help couples relax in front of the camera, and photographing in harsh light. Anna took lead on posing the couples and giving direction while the retreat participants moved in and around to get a variety of shots from different angles. The first session began at 10 am which is already later in the day then I normally photograph clients. The second took place at 11 am. Photographing so close to noon was a new experience for me. It was a great opportunity to test, practice, and learn in in what is a risk-free session. Knowing that the clients were going to receive a full gallery from the lead photographer, meant that the retreat participants can make mistakes. That freedom really allows you to take more risks than you normally would and get creative.

Let's Talk About Light

I usually photograph clients early in the morning (within one hour of sunrise) or during golden hour (one hour before sunset). This is when light is "soft" -- the shadows are softer because the sun is at a lower angle and the light has to travel further through the atmosphere than if it coming from were directly above you. Golden hour gets its name from the beautiful warm soft light that occurs as the sun is about to set. Those long red and orange wavelengths are stronger at that time of day than the shorter blue wavelengths. The light is also diffused more so the shadows aren't as harsh. As the sun continues to set you're left with all the blue hues and this time of day is called "blue hour" -- though it doesn't usually last a full hour here in Texas.

Around noon, if you are standing in direct light your clients will have shadows under their eyes, nose and lower lip. These shadows aren't usually flattering so you have to position clients in ways that either avoid those shadows or embrace them. One way you can do this is having your clients face the sun (i.e., looking up with their eyes closed) or standing among strong shadows to play with contrast (i.e., sitting in shadows of a stair railing). Another way is place your clients in shady areas (wall of a building, under trees, under a canopy) and have them facing towards the light source.

What Time of Day is Best?

The answer is up to YOU. Whether you have photos taken in golden hour, blue hour, or mid-day is a choice of aesthetics, logistics, or availability.