Ask any photographer their favorite time to shoot and they will say without hesitation, the golden hour. The golden hour in photography is the first and last hour of sunlight during the day. It’s also referred to as the magic hour. And that’s because the golden hour is pretty magical.

Why do we love shooting during the golden hour? Well, for starters, the light is softer and more diffused because of the angle of the sun.

You see, there are two kinds of light: Hard and soft. Hard light is the one you see on bright sunny days. Hard light produces harsh shadows and lots of squinting! This is because the sun is shining directly on the subject. Soft light is just that, soft. Shadows {if any} are softer with little to no contrast. Soft light is a result of the light coming from multiple sources when it is diffused. This is the kind of light you would expect on a cloudy day {another favorite time to take pictures!}.

When shooting during the golden hour, the light is distributed evenly because of the angle of the sun. The light has to travel further to reach us, which as a result, diffuses the light.

7 Tips for Shooting During the Golden Hour

7 Tips for Shooting During the Golden Hour #photography

Golden Hour Photography Tip #1:Find Your Golden Hour  

How do you know when the golden hour is? Wouldn’t you know there’s a helpful site for that? Based on your location, the Golden Hour will calculate when your magic time is! There is also a great app called Golden Pic that provides the time of the Blue Hours, Golden Hours, Sunrise and Sunset for any day and any location in the world. It also gives you a 4-day weather forecast.

Golden Hour Photography Tip #2:Watch White Balance

The golden hour is one of those times when you are going to want to turn off the auto white balance. I normally keep my white balance set to “cloudy” which will capture the golden tones of the sun. Or you can set a custom white balance. Don’t know how to do that? You can read my tutorial on how!

7 Tips for Shooting During the Golden Hour #photography

Golden Hour Photography Tip #3: Watch Light Exposure 

Because the light can be so bright at those times, you may need to face your subject away from the sun. This will create a nicely backlit photo but your subject may be a little dark. You can compensate for this by setting your exposure to at least +1 or +2. You could also use a slower shutter speed or use fill flash {which will be talking about in a few weeks!}.

Golden Hour Photography Tip #4: Use a Wide Aperture

I normally shoot wide open to begin with but if you don’t, this is a great time to do so. The bokeh will be stunning and you’ll achieve a nice shallow depth of field. My sweet spot is f/ 2 or f/ 2.2. Bokeh is more prominent when dealing with light sources. The setting sun provides a ton of lighting which can give you a beautiful bokeh.

7 Tips for Shooting During the Golden Hour #photography

Golden Hour Photography Tip #5: Catch Sun Flares

This is a great time to capture sun flares! This works well during the golden hour because the sun is at such a great angle. I love adding a little sun flare to my pictures because it’s unique and gives my photo a little something.

7 Tips for Shooting During the Golden Hour #photography

Golden Hour Photography Tip #6: Use Rim Lighting

Make your subject stand out with rim lighting. A benefit of having a back-lit subject is that you can achieve what is commonly called rim lighting. Rim lighting appears more on a thin subject like hair and grass. The golden hour light wraps around the subject and creates a beautiful outline.

7 Tips for Shooting During the Golden Hour #photography

Golden Hour Photography Tip #7: Shoot Fast

You are essential racing the sun when shooting at these times {especially at sunset}. I often find myself having to move constantly to follow the light. It can be stressful at times but it’s worth it in the end! So take this advice and shoot quickly!

7 Tips for Shooting During the Golden Hour #photography

Your challenge this week is to find your golden hour and to take some magical photographs! Make sure you share your golden hour photographs on the Facebook page.


Have you missed a Photography Tutorial? Don’t worry! Just check out our Photography Tutorial Library. It’s jam packed with over 30 photography lessons. And we add to it every week!


Want to turn your digital images into photo books, calendars and more! Click here to see our weekly specials!