Little girl smiling at camera in field at sunset

Golden Hour: Pros and Cons

Golden Hour. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Or maybe you’ve seen photographers coming out of the woodwork at 7:30pm in a local park as the sun starts to set on a summer day. Golden hour is a special time of day that photographer’s dream about. It happens about an hour after the sun rises in the morning (think: early) and an hour before the sun sets at night. What is so magical about this “golden hour” I speak of? I’m so glad you asked!

Canton, CT Family and Newborn Photographer | Sharon Leger Photography | Golden Hour Session

Pro #1: Soft, Even Lighting

If you look at a picture taken before sunset, you will notice that the harsh light of the sun has disappeared. This leaves behind a soft glow that can’t be replicated. No one is squinting. There are no hot spots of light in the background. Finally, skin tones look ideal in this light.

Canton, CT Family and Newborn Photographer | Sharon Leger Photography | Golden Hour Session

Pro #2: Golden Hour Sunsets

Every once in awhile, everything works out wonderfully and your session’s finale is a beautiful sunset. And even if you can’t get a killer sunset, often the light can be manipulated with well-placed sun flares and shadows. This definitely adds a little something to your images.

Canton, CT Family and Newborn Photographer | Sharon Leger Photography | Golden Hour Session

Con #1: Light Disappears Quickly

Depending on your location, the sun may begin to set quickly. This is why I recommend starting the shoot a solid hour before sunset is expected. That gives you enough time to warm up and get all of the essential shots before racing the sun. It’s important to keep an eye on trees and hills to make sure you time the session correctly.

Canton, CT Family and Newborn Photographer | Sharon Leger Photography | Golden Hour Session

Con #2: Not Ideal for Young Families

Unfortunately, the setting of the sun often coincides with young children’s bedtimes during the spring and summer months. It’s very rare in the summer that I can stretch a session all the way to a true golden hour. But the light leading up to it is ideal too, so the later you can get those kiddos to stay up the better (who thought they’d ever hear those words?!).

Canton, CT Family and Newborn Photographer | Sharon Leger Photography

Con #3: Golden Hour Can Be Unpredictable

Sunsets in the warmer months can be unpredictable and all it takes is one cloud to destroy the effects of golden hour. Believe it or not, clouds are usually photographer’s friends, but not when you’re going for a sunset session.

To sum it up, golden hours are awesome when they happen, but it’s next to impossible to plan a perfect one. If you are hoping for a golden hour session, my advice is to look up the sunset for a clear evening and then back up your session time one hour to try to achieve the right amount of golden glow at your shoot. Good luck, it’ll be worth it!

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