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What is Golden Hour & Why is it the Perfect Time to Have Your Session?

Golden hour is the most magical lighting you can have for your session. There's a reason why most photographers love this time! Let's dive into what it is and why I hold your Summer session during golden hour (with example photos)

What is golden hour?

Golden hour is the time shortly before sunset — and shortly after sunrise (but who wants to wake up that early??) It is when the sun is low in the sky. When the sun is close to the horizon, the light is much less harsh during this time than earlier in the day, and the lighting is more warm toned.

"When the sun is low above the horizon, sunlight rays must penetrate the atmosphere for a greater distance, reducing the intensity of the direct light, so that more of the illumination comes from indirect light from the sky, reducing the lighting ratio. This is technically a type of lighting diffusion. More blue light is scattered, so if the sun is present, its light appears more reddish. In addition, the sun's low angle above the horizon produces longer shadows." -Golden Hour (Photography) page on Wikipedia

Why is golden hour amazing for photo sessions?

1. More Flattering for Portraits

Golden hour is the time of day when the lighting is the most flattering for your session. The lighting is soft and even, so there aren't harsh shadows on your face. You won't be squinting from the sun. The light also is more warm, which is flattering for all skin tones, giving you a beautiful glow.

This photo was taken during golden hour.

A friend took this photo of me shortly before sunset. You can see there are no harsh shadows from my hat or over my eyes. The lighting is complementary to my skin tone with the warm glow.

This photo was not taken during golden hour.

It was taken at noon on a sunny day with zero shade or clouds. Although I was able to edit this photo to look decent, the sun being so high in the sky created very harsh shadows. If my model had not been wearing sunglasses, you would see the extremely harsh shadows over her eyes. Her skin tone is also not as warm as it would be if the sun was lower in the sky. I also had to tone down the whites quite a bit for this photo, as the harsh sun made the bright white flowers and highlights on her arm too bright.

2. Even Lighting

Not only is the lighting even for skin tones (not creating harsh shadows over the face), but the even lighting all around makes for a better background. Even if I were to find a shady spot during midday, there is likely still going to be uneven lighting in the background, which can be distracting from the subject of the image (you!).

Here are some examples:

This was taken during golden hour.

Here you can see that the light is even all around.

This was not taken during golden hour.

This is still a lovely moment captured for this expecting mama and her son, however you can spot the harsh shadows from the trees in this photo on this unexpectedly sunny day.

3. Sun flares (a.k.a. little bits of magic!)

When the sun is low in the sky, it can create sun flares. These can instantly add an element of magic and wonder. They add a little extra touch to turn a photo from great to wow!

Examples of photos with sun flares:

Golden hour is the perfect time of day for your next session

We've gone over what golden hour is, why it is the most flatter type of lighting for you, your background, and why it adds a magical element to your photos ✨

Have I convinced you to book a golden hour session? If so, you can reach out and contact me here!


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