What is Golden Hour?

You know those photos that look snapshots of a memory instead of an actual person or place? The ones that seem to glow, and everything in them seems rimmed with a halo of light? The ones with stunning flares of light that look like the subject’s soul is exploding out of them and dust clouds that look like magic suspended in air? That is Golden Hour. Golden hour is just after sunrise and just before sunset.

Why is it important in terms of photography?

Golden hour is something to keep in mind whenever possible when you are thinking about atking pictures outdoors. The light  during this time is unlike any other light and it can’t be replicated, no matter how hard you try (well, maybe if you are a photshop guru).

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. It’s warm.  Photography is all about light.  During golden hour,  light from the sun is actually a golden hue.
  2. It’s a natural diffuser. Light from the sun has to go through the earths atmosphere to get to you during this time of day.  Essentially, the sun becomes a diffuser.  Shadows become lighter and highlights become darker- which is ideal for skin tones.
  3. It’s directional.  This means that your 2 dimensional photograph will have more drama with longer shadows and greater sense of depth.

How to Use Golden Hour

So now that you know what the golden hour is and why its light is so special, you probably want to know how to use it.

  1. Plan For It-  The word ‘hour’ can be very deceiving.  It is dependent on weather and the time of year.  So be ready.  Make sure you and your subject are out and ready prior.  You will want to utilize every minute you have.  I use this handy website to see when it starts:  http://www.golden-hour.com/
  2. Rim Light:  I start with my clients facing away from the sun, which is called backlighting.  This gives the ‘halo’ effect.
  3. Have your subject face the sun:  Once the sun has gone down, you can really have fun using the diffused light and shadows.

Golden Hour

senior photo boy in bleachers
golden hour capture