What Is The Golden Hour?

While scheduling a portrait session, you’ve probably heard of the “golden hour.” Not sure what this means? You’re not the only one. It’s a very common question that I get. That’s why I want to share with you what you need to know about this time of day. Afterward you will want to be photographed during the golden hour!


Why is the golden hour the best time for photos?

The golden hour is the best time for photos. The lights is warm, soft, glowy and dreamy. I love capturing photos in this light! It’s just beautiful! There are no harsh shadows, which are present others times of day. I am a natural light photographer, which means that I take photos with sunlight as opposed to studio lights. The golden hour allows me to get stunning images. The light is more even on faces, so clients look their best! Not to mention the backlighting opportunities. Backlighting is when the light is behind the client, creating a glowing outline around their silhouette.

In the middle of the day, the sun is highest in the sky creating more harsh light, shadows and patchy light. This can be very distracting. I want my clients to look the best that they can and feel comfortable in front of the camera, so I typically avoid photographing portrait sessions at this time of day.

Here you can see an example of backlighting, with an outline of light around her.

When can I get the prettiest lighting for my photos?

This lighting occurs twice a day, when the sun is lower in the sky, closest to the horizon. Both in the 1-2 hours after sunrise and the 1-2 hours before sunset. The more common time to photograph portraits is in the evening, especially in the summertime. Waking up early to get full hair and makeup styling before driving to a location for pictures isn’t for everyone and may require a coffee stop along the way. However, if a morning session works better in your schedule, it can be a great option. Not to mention that in highly trafficked locations just after sunrise, there will be less people wandering into the background of your images. If you want your photos taken at a tourist destination, remember this! More people are out and about during the sunset golden hour.

When planning your portrait session months in advance, it is handy to use a sunset calculator to estimate your session start time. Keep in mind that sunrise and sunset aren’t at the same time everyday. These times will vary based on the season.

This photos was taken during the golden hour. Notice how the background has soft, even lighting without harsh shadows.

How long does the golden hour last?

As you know, the golden hour takes places around sunrise and sunset. You’re going to get beautiful photos within the 2 hour windows that I mentioned before. Although, my favorite photos are usually from the hour closest to the sunrise/sunset when the light is at its softest.

September 1, 2021


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