Hi friend, let’s talk about the “Golden Hour”. You’ve made the leap and booked a photo session, yay you! You want Instagram worthy images that are clean, classic, and timeless, and I am totally here for that. When booking a session, you want to make sure that the images you receive at the end of the day are beautiful and worth your time and money. You want that gentle sun kissed look that will make you say “wow”. In order to achieve all these elements though, the preparation starts with your booking. Fam, there’s no magical filter photographers turn on to say “Ta-Da!” in order to present you with beautiful images. It is all about WHEN your shoot will take place. And that, my friends, is what the “Golden Hour” is all about.
What is the Golden Hour?
Ok, so I have told you that booking your session during the golden hour is key, but what does that even mean? It’s a photography term for the time period shortly after sunrise or before sunset. The light is softer, redder, and creates the alluring ambience you’re searching for.
So what’s the big deal?
The time of day your session is scheduled for is impacted by where the sun is in the sky, which effects how the light will hit your face and to an extent, what your images will ultimately look like.
Seeing is Believing
When I say seeing is believing, I mean you will actually be able to see! When your session is scheduled in the middle of the day when there is direct sunlight, you will be squinting into the camera. Raise your hand if you like staring into the sun while driving in the middle of the day. What if your photographer captured what you look like when you are driving home and the sun hits you directly in the face, making you a hot squinty mess? Often, that’s what happens when your session is scheduled during non-golden hour times (aka, the middle of the day).
It might make sense at the time so you can schedule it in between your various weekend activities. However, if you are investing your time and money in quality photography, you want your session to be as successful as possible, which means taking a little extra time in the morning or evening for your session. Trust me, I am not an early riser myself, but by hosting a golden hour session, I know that my clients will have the gorgeous images they have been dreaming of (and that they invested in)!
Why does this matter?
For instance, below you see three images. The first one is 100% a selfie on a phone camera, but completely illustrates my point. The first image was taken a few weeks ago when my fiancé and I went apple picking in the middle of the afternoon, and it was SO bright! Fam, I am NOT a blonde, and I had so many people comment on how great my new dye job was. That’s when you know you have a lighting problem. The second image doesn’t look as harsh, however it was noon in Norfolk, VA. My fiancé was trying really hard to not squint into the sun while I made him model for me. The last image is from an Anniversary session I did with one of my favorite couples, Jenna and Cody. I shot their First Anniversary session during the Golden Hour in a sweet little glen near their home. See what a difference this made?!
Let’s Talk About Shadows
While squinting during your engagement session is a big no-no, an equivalent evil is harsh shadows. Sure, you’ve found a shady space, but the shadows creating the shade completely covers your face. To achieve photos that are beautiful for the entirety of your session, you can’t limit yourself to standing only in the shade. You will lose out on all of the wonderful aspects of your session location! Shadows can create a harsh tone difference in your photos and can make editing difficult for your photographer. For a photographer, it can honestly be a major editing headache! It is much harder and more time consuming to adjust the sharp contrast differences that occur with deep shadows.
As a client, photographers know you like a quick image turn around, but making time for editing these types of images can take much longer. You might find yourself waiting longer than you thought for your images if they are not taken during the golden hour.
I am using another apple picking phone selfie because the shadows are insane. While obviously a personal selfie, it is not an image I would want to deliver to a client. The shadows completely take away from what could have been a decent selfie! The middle image is a shot of one of my seniors, Whitney, during her morning session on JMU’s quad. It was starting to get a little bright as it got a little later, but notice how there aren’t any shadows on her face! The last image is a personal favorite of Ashley and John from the Something Blue and White shoot . The sun had just reached peak golden hour status when I took this image, and I am in love! Just look at how even and soft everything is. That sun-kissed glow is #goals for every session I shoot!
You’ve now learned what the golden hour is, a few reasons why you need to have your session scheduled during the golden hour, and some examples of what a good golden hour image looks like. You can tuck this information away for your future session and pull it out when you are speaking with your photographer about scheduling your shoot. If you book a session with yours truly, I can’t wait to talk about #allthethings golden hour with you and making your session an amazing experience! Now that you too, are a golden hour expert, subscribe to the Jenna Violet Photography email list . Here you can continue to get tips, tricks, ideas, exclusive subscriber only specials, and all the pretty things directly in your inbox! See you there!