Why You Should Schedule Your Photo Session During Golden Hour

When it comes to scheduling your family photos, there are so many things to take into consideration: the date, the location, the outfits, if it will fit in around naps and dinnertime and everyone being home from work/school/sports. If you've scheduled a session with me before, you've probably heard me say that I typically schedule sessions for an hour or so before the sun sets. Why, you ask? Let me demonstrate.

Have you ever taken a photo of someone, with your phone or a camera, in the middle of the day? Chances are you probably got something like this, with dark shadows across the face of your subject.

It's hard to avoid those types of shadows when you shoot mid-day because of the angle of the sun in relation to your subject. You probably wouldn't want to pay someone to take a photo of your child that looks like the one above! The light is so harsh that it often makes the subject squint, which is not a flattering look.

One option to beat that harsh, direct sun creating dark shadows on your subject is to move them into the shade. While the final images will come out much better than the ones above, you are now limited to shooting only in shady locations. (That sounded weird! I didn't mean shady as in sketchy/dangerous location, I meant shady as in shaded from the sun!) Some of my favorite locations for photos are on the beach, and shady spots on the beach are almost non-existent. In addition, if you have children you probably know that they don't want to stay in one spot very long. Also, the contrast between the exceedingly bright background and the shaded face of the subject can be distracting to the viewer.

There is one simple solution to all of the problems- golden hour! It's that hour or so right before the sun sinks down below the horizon. Instead of casting harsh, dark shadows, this type of light creates long, soft shadows that are easy to predict the location of and simple to keep out of your photos. The sun also illuminates semi-transparent objects such as hair, grass, and leaves, creating a halo effect around the subject and a glow through natural objects in the path of the sun's rays.

The light during golden hour is often referred to as being "diffused." Diffused light is the most forgiving on the skin and makes your complexion appear soft and creamy. The angle of the sun during this time is such that the light isn't blaring directly on you, but it almost sweeps over you and illuminates everything it touches. Golden hour light is magical! It gives the world a glow. I believe it's the reason why people stop and watch the sunset, because it makes everything more beautiful for that short amount of time. In the photo below, take a look at the golden stream of light illuminating part of Ruby's hair part of the ground behind her. That golden hour light adds beauty to the image, while the harsh light in the photos taken midday is so bright that it is a distraction.

In case you aren't convinced yet, here is a side by side comparison of two images taken using the same camera of the same subject in the same location. The only difference is in the time of day the photo was taken. I bet you can pick out the image taken during golden hour!

If you want to know more about some of my favorite locations to shoot at during golden hour, take a look here. If you have any questions for me about golden hour, choosing a location or time, or anything else photo related, leave a comment below and I'll be sure to get back to you as soon as I can.



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