Must-Know-Mondays: The Best Time for Photos aka Golden Hour

Mondays can be a bit of a drag but wonder of wonders it’s almost Thanksgiving! I’m so excited to be home with family for a few days devouring delicious fall-themed dishes, although I luckily got a taste of Thanksgiving a bit early this year already. This past Saturday some friends of ours (the lovely Abby of Abby Grace Photography and her husband Matt) hosted about 20 people at their home for a Friendsgiving complete with a picture perfect turkey and too many delicious sides to count.

While I’m still coming out of my food coma I thought I’d put together a little Must-Know-Monday post. This is for brides and anyone else scheduling an outdoor portrait session, whether it’s family, maternity or engagement. I learned early on in my exploration with photography that lighting can make or break a photo. While great photos really can be achieved at any time of day with a photographer who knows what they’re doing, portraits taken during what is known as “Golden Hour” have a certain light quality that is hard to replicate at any other time of day.

So what is Golden Hour? It’s the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset  and the times of day that photographers swear by to get the best lighting. At these two points in the day the sun is still low in the sky and produces a soft and diffused lighting that is both magical and flattering to the subject being photographed. The less harsh sun during Golden Hour is also lower contrast allowing you to preserve more details in shadowed or highlighted parts of your scene.

Here are some brief tips to consider for getting your portraits done at Golden Hour

  • Brides, consider the timing of your ceremony and reception. If Golden Hour is important to you you’ll want to look up the sunset time for the day of your wedding and consider scheduling the ceremony and reception so that you and your bridal party are free during the hour before sunset to grab photos.
  • Brides-to-Be have a bit more flexibility for engagement sessions so sunrise or sunset portraits are often options. Consider sunrise shooting if you’re planning on doing your engagement photos in a location that is normally crowded. Getting there at sunrise for photos will likely mean you’ll get complete solitude which can make for some stunning shots.
  • Make sure you arrive to your session on time! As the name would imply Golden Hour is short and fleeting. If you’re late you shorten the amount of time you’ll be able to shoot during that soft diffused light you wanted.
  • Your photographer (potentially me!) will be able to figure this out for you but if you’re curious here is a handy Golden Hour calculator to see when the best times to photograph are.

As a photographer it can be difficult to get clients to see the value in getting out of bed before sunrise for a photo session when sunset portraits aren’t an option (i.e. during the winter or clients are working past that time). Just one early wake up call though can really be worth the resulting photographs that you’ll treasure forever – and is SO worth it.


Sunrise portrait session in California with Paulina                                                                                          Sunset in Boston with Emily and Anthony

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