Sunny vs Overcast Light

For photo sessions, light is everything. It sets the mood, emphasizes details, and brings life to every image captured. When planning a photoshoot, one crucial decision you need to consider is the weather—is it better to shoot on a sunny day or is an overcast day going to be okay? Both weather conditions offer unique lighting conditions and atmospheres, but which one is better? Let's explore the differences between bright and overcast light to help you decide.

Bright Sunny Day


  • Early Morning: Right after sunrise offers soft golden light, similar to the light during the golden hour. Perfect for any type of shoots if you can wake up that early!
  • Mid-Morning/Early Afternoon: The sun is at a higher angle, making it great for indoor sessions and locations with high structures, like city and forest settings. However, be cautious of harsh shadows in open areas.
  • Late Afternoon: The late afternoon light has warmer color tones and longer, softer shadows, making it versatile for most outdoor session locations.
  • Golden Hours: It is about one to one and a half hours before sunset. The light is warm and soft, perfect for open locations like beaches, grasslands, and open fields. It's ideal for capturing backlit portraits, silhouette shots, and landscapes with warm tones.

Overcast Day

Photos are more calm and clean, with a serene and soft feel.

  • Bright Overcast Day: It's like a huge soft box, offering flexible shooting times and angles all day long. Great for achieving even lighting and capturing subtle details.
  • Dark Overcast/Rainy Day: Not recommended for achieving a bright and whimsical look, but these lighting conditions are great for sessions using lighting equipment for a more flash/special lighting effect.

Avoiding Harsh Noon Light

It's important to note that shooting during midday, when the sun is directly overhead, can result in harsh, unflattering shadows and blown-out highlights. This is why many photographers prefer shooting during the golden hours or on bright overcast days for more flattering and even lighting conditions.

Whether it's the warm glow of a sunny afternoon or the soft, diffused light of an overcast day, each lighting condition offers its own unique charm. By understanding the differences between sunny and overcast days and the nuances of lighting throughout the day, you can make informed decisions about what kind of images you want from your session.

Here are some examples of different lighting scenarios:

Mid Morning

Mid Morning

Mid Afternoon

LAte Afternoon

Golden Hour

Golden Hour

Bright Overcast

Dark Overcast