Why an early morning photography session is the surest option…
90% of requests I receive for private photo sessions around Paris are from visiting tourists (whether families, couples, or individual travelers), many of whom will have both a long journey ahead of them and a very limited amount of days to spend in the city. They want to both relax / recover and make best use of their available time in the city. Therefore it makes perfect sense that they'll think first and foremost about tying their photography session in with the rest of their itinerary. Whilst in this respect a late morning to late afternoon shoot would appear to make more sense time wise, it makes less sense with regards to the reason behind hiring a professional in the first place: to get the best photos possible.
The weather on a given day will always be a deciding factor in how ideal conditions are for a photo shoot, both in terms of light and passersby. Of course, we can't always have the best weather, but we can at least choose the best time of day to shoot.
By choosing as early-a-morning or as late-an-evening as possible, you're giving yourself the best chance of getting the best possible light. The "Golden Hour" is a term widely used in both film and photography. This is the soft, red hour of light we're all familiar when we've watched the sun rise or set. To catch this, I recommend starting a morning shoot no later than 20 minutes after sunrise and finishing an evening shoot around 20 minutes before sunset.
Whilst both early mornings and late evenings offer an equal chance of obtaining the best light conditions, I always recommend, hands down, early morning photo shoots over evening ones as they have the HUGE added advantage of being more private and intimate; with fewer "passers by" (especially in Paris's popular tourist areas), your photo shoot will have an all the more "exclusive" feel, which will come across both in the moment (as you're "being a model", and especially in the final images you'll keep forever.
During the short winter days, the sun will rise as late as 08:45 over Paris, but in the height of summer sunrise is as early as 05:45, so, sure, if you're a visiting the capital in that period and want the best conditions, you'll have to get to bed at a reasonable hour the night before; perfect conditions are great, but NEVER at the expense of tired faces :)
Of course, in many cases an early morning photo shoot simply won't work for a client. This can be the case for families with very young children, a business traveler with very limited availability, or a fiancé-to-be planning a surprise proposal who doesn't want to give the game away by dragging their partner out of bed at 05:00 for an "urgent visit to the Eiffel Tower"! Great photographs can be taken at any time, so if a client has to shoot mid-afternoon, I'm more than happy to oblige. In such cases, however, depending on the time of the year, I would simply recommend that an alternative, less touristy location at least be considered; if you've ever seen the crowds at Trocadero Plaza or the Louvre at midday in the height of summer, you'll understand that "exclusiveness" is not a word that comes to mind! :)
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