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Planning Family Pictures What is golden hour and Why is it such a big deal?

September 4, 2018

Do you ever wonder why your family photographer wants to schedule your portrait session during dinner? Or a few hours before bedtime?! The answer is – Golden Hour. I know, I know I can see you slump your shoulders and roll your eyes, big deal golden hour. What does that even mean? That term may mean nothing to you, but to most photographers it’s well, golden. If you allow me a few minutes I’ll explain why I love golden hour and how it will help you in planning family pictures for the future.

First let’s define golden hour. For photography purposes golden hour is defined as the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. Cool right!? Now why is this important? This is one of the best lights for portrait photography because the light is coming in at a different angle so it is slightly diffused (softer) and a nice warm color. This helps enhance the colors of the scene and the subjects in the portrait.

For you, as the client, this is great for a few reasons. First, you won’t be squinting because of the bright light. You’ll be able to relax your face and eyes when looking straight ahead. This allows me and the camera to capture all the beauty it sees in those eyes. We may also have the chance to capture that perfect little sun glow in your hair.

Second, you’ll avoid hot spots and dark shadows across your body and face. My goal as a photographer is to capture a picture of you or your family without any surrounding distractions. You should be able to clearly see your faces and recall those memories without being distracted by the sunspots that speckle your face. We should also be able to see your faces. No one wants dark circles under their eyes or faces half shadowed. Golden hour allows for nice even light which produces nice even skin tones and beautiful backgrounds.

Now what does this mean time wise? Golden hour depends upon a few different factors. The seasons – The sunset changes through out the year so sometimes those family sessions may be best shot at 4pm but during those long summer days we may have to wait until 6:30 or so before we begin. Another thing to consider is your location. A flat open field is very different than a wooded grove. These are all the things your photographer will take in consideration when planning your family portrait session. So my advice to you is this! Trust the process but don’t be afraid to ask question too! The more informed you are the better your session will be!

I hope this explains a little about why your photographers want to  schedule sessions before normal people are awake or when your little ones should be getting ready for bed. It’s all about the light!

One last disclaimer – as a photographer I can’t control the light I simply do my best to chase it!

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