I often get asked what is the best season to shoot in Paris. Each season has its own pros and cons, so there is no "best" season. In any season, there is good weather and bad weather, but it is just a matter of a higher chance or not. In all seasons, it is recommended to start shooting at sunrise for the best light and to avoid tourist crowds. You'll see a different side of Paris in the calm morning and soft light. The results can be completely different depending on the time of the day, the season and your outfits.
The weather is often very unpredictable in Paris, so the most important is that you can embrace whatever that comes with positivity, and enjoy the session, then surely you'll have some memorable captures. The facial expression matters the most, as this cannot be edited in post-production. On rainy days, Paris is still very beautiful and romantic (and most importantly, fewer crowds!).
Spring (mid March-May):
It is the most popular season as tourists come for the flower blossoming season and the weather starts to be more pleasant compared to winter. Every year, the flower blossoming dates are different and no one can predict beforehand as it is highly dependent on the weather.
Pros: More sunshine days and flower blossoms (magnolia, cherry blossoms, westeria, etc) at different times during springtime but there are huge tourist crowds and the sunrise is early.
Cons: It is the most popular shooting season, hence it is impossible to shoot at some of the most popular Eiffel spots.
Summer (June-mid Sept):
For clients who would like to maximise the chance of having sunlight and are afraid of the cold, it is advisable to shoot in the summer. It is perfect time for shooting with colourful dresses or cocktail dresses without the cold, chilly morning air!
Pros: Warmer weather, longer days (sunset close to 10pm!), more sunny days. Bi-annual big sale from end of June to end of July.
Cons: Please be prepared for a very early sunrise shooting to beat the crowds as much as we can. If the photoshoot starts too late in the morning, there'll be harsh sunlight and starts to get quite hot on a sunny day. Impossible to shoot/limited angles for shooting at some of the most popular spots due to crowds/construction work. In August most good restaurants are closed as many locals depart for a whole month's of holidays.
Autumn (mid-Sep-mid Nov):
Autumn is my favourite season because the colours just match so well with the Parisian architecture and backdrop. The most beautiful autumn shooting spot are no doubt Montmartre and Jardin des Tuileries, although all around the city, you can see scattered autumn trees.
Pros: Nicer, softer light throughout the session even for long shooting durations. Beautiful autumn colours. Late autumn is less crowded than summer days.
Cons: More cloudy/rainy days. Start to get colder.
BONUS: See my other blog regarding autumn shooting spots.
Winter (mid-Nov-mid March):
For some of my clients, the biggest drawback of winter shooting is the unstable weather. Many days are cloudy, misty or even rainy. However, the good thing is, there is seldom heavy rain in Paris and it doesn't usually rain non-stop for many hours. There are still sunny days in the winter season but it really depends on your luck. For some parts of the city, the autumn colours still continue for a bit to early winter. Although it is rare, if you are lucky enough, you may even have a snowy photo session!
Pros: Great for casual wear shooting. Fewer crowds, easy to shoot at the most popular spots, late sunrise so you can wake up late. Lower hotel prices & flight prices in general (except for the Christmas period). There will be Christmas lights and festive Christmas markets in December. Enjoy the bi-annual big sale from mid January to early February for some great deals!
Cons: Rainy and usually very cold & windy. Shorter days (Sunset at 5pm or even earlier!). Very crowded in Christmas season
*** IMPORTANT: Winter Prewedding shooting
Winter is the best for casual wear shooting as you can wear more layers beneath to keep warm. However, if you are shooting prewedding with a wedding dress, it is advisable to bring along a set of casual wear as back up. In case it becomes too cold and rainy, the photo results are better with a set of casual wear as you'll be warmer and have a better facial expression (instead of one looking bitterly cold and shivering uncontrollably!). Besides, the long dress absorbs the water on the ground as you shoot, making it even more uncomfortable for you during the session. Many clients do not realise how harsh the shooting conditions can turn into especially in winter, so you have to be well-prepared with my reminders exclusively for my clients. It is much more desirable to shoot in casual wear for winter.
Above are some advice I have based on my experience shooting in Paris, and I often make adjustments with my clients during the session based on crowds and weather. As I hope to give the best shooting experience to my clients, I take limited clients per week and shoot at the most optimal sunrise time (hence only once per day). As Paris is a year-round busy, do try to plan your session as early as possible to be able to book your ideal time slot and book the photographer and make up artist that you wish to have.
Sunrise times day by day for your reference:
* If you cannot wake up that early, consider coming in autumn/winter for shooting instead.
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I'm Teresa, a local Paris photographer who knows all the insider tips on exactly where and when to shoot at those pretty spots.