Golden Hour(ish) Sessions Before Summers End

Golden Hour(ish) Sessions Before Summers End

Toddler girl in white dress at a park in New Jersey

It’s nearly 6:30 pm on a late September evening, and what a pleasant sight to see: a family of three walking joyfully through the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell, New Jersey. On this day, we’re celebrating 14 months with Savannah’s session, and my goodness – look at that sweet ruffly white dress she’s wearing.

As we approach the park, the large lake before us is a pale blue, it’s so beautifully lit by the fading evening glow. We’re all soaking in the last days of summer, the calming color palette, and beachy vibe of the Manasquan Reservoir.

As I’m photographing Savannah, her sparkly sapphire eyes and radiant smile capture the attention of my camera. I snap away while she quietly sits in the center of our happy group, enjoying the slow movement of the water.

Golden Hour-ish Sessions

The lighting is getting just near perfect as the sun lowers in the sky. This is known as the golden hour, the hour before the sunset – aka a photographer’s dream.

When there’s no place to take cover from the bright sun (like the open wide beach), it’s especially important to schedule your photoshoot right at the golden hour. During summer, golden hour starts around 7 – 7:30 pm.

But for a park-like location with trees around to provide some shade and cover (like the Manasquan Reservoir), what I love is there’s a bit more wiggle room as to when we can start. This gives you the flexibility to schedule a session a little earlier (approx. 6 – 6:30 pm during summer) which is great for little ones that might not do well with a late start.

Recipe for Perfect Clothing Colors

With so many colors to choose from, how do you decide what to wear to your photo session? I’ve got just the thing for you. The recipe I like to use goes a little something like this:

Season + Session Location + Photo Album Cover = Perfect Clothing Color Palette

Season = Late Summer/Early Fall

Session Location = Blend of Park and Beach Colors…Blues/Greens/Tans

Photo Album = Creamy Neutral

Clothing Color Palette = White, blush, tan, blue

This simple, neutral color palette goes nicely with the lightness of summer season and delicate colors of the location. The blues of the water, dad’s shirt, Savannah’s eyes and her bow tie together along with their white and blush dresses.

In general, I encourage families to dress in simple, solid, neutral colors. Colors that complement the location but don’t steal the spotlight which is your family’s expression and connection. That recipe is a safest bet in most situations.

Shoes, Sandals or Sandy Toes?

It’s easy to put most of your focus on planning out the right combination of shirts, shorts, dresses and bows. But don’t leave out the smaller details of what to wear on your feet and toes! Even in September in New Jersey, the summer weather lingers so while this family started out with sandals, they ended up with their toes in the sand. The beach area of this park worked well with bare feet and prior to that point mom and dad were both sporting neutral color sandals that were easy to walk in and a perfect fit for this location and season.

As summer fades away and the fall months fast approach, this could be an ideal time to catch those last-minute warm-weather photos with little ones and loved ones alike. I’ll be right here for you and your family, ready for that “golden-and-beachy-ish” evening out whenever you are.

Every session goes by so fast, just as every season and stage does. But there’s one magical thing I find that helps slow time down just a little. It’s giving your pictures purpose and making them easier to access so you can relive those moments, seasons, and stages. There are many ways to do this, but my absolute favorite way is filling the pages of a photo album. It’s sentimental and nostalgic. It takes you down memory lane and through the love story that is your family.

I’m here to give you a hand and make this part easy for you with images laid out in a way that takes you right back to that little adventure you had on your session day.

To giving pictures purpose,


Have a question or what to know more about summery family photos in New Jersey. Message me at I’d love to hear from you!