We’ve all seen and fallen in love with the wedding portrait shots of couples drenched in stunning sunlight, whether it be the first of the day or the last. Sunrises and sunsets are without a doubt otherworldly and so magical, so it’s no wonder couples around the globe want to get some shots of their own golden hour love shoot! Nature really does give us an incredible golden glow for images that’s free and, once you know the tricks, easy to use as part of your wedding or engagement shoots. We’ve gathered tips and tricks from some amazing photographers on how best to harness the brilliant light of the sun at sunrise and sunset in “Golden Hour: Sunrise & Sunset Photography Tips From The Pros!”
And let’s begin with the exquisite work and words from Eerik Sandstrom…
Image: Eerik Sandstrom
“Happiness is intertwined with beauty. Our subconscious is always on the lookout for beauty, wherever it can be found. When we cross paths, it stops us in our tracks and puts a smile on our faces. It can be a person, place, or thing. But there is a time when absolute beauty engulfs us in every direction, the right time, in the right place.
It’s called Golden Hour. It happens twice a day. Precisely, it’s the point in the day when the sun is within 6 degrees of the horizon. Glorious, soft golden light touches everything around us, alerting our subconscious to all that we love about our environment. A warm fuzzy feeling floods our bodies. We feel happy, love, joy, and appreciation. And here are my tips for your Golden Hour photoshoot.”
Images: Eerik Sandstrom
1. Golden hour is precious and being prepared is key in maximising the time available. This means arriving early and being ready to go. You might find the photographer has some urgency about them. It’s because the light is fleeting and can be lost in an instant.
On your wedding day, delays that occur around moments like the ceremony (which always starts late) steal time from your golden hour portraits. Once the light is gone, we can’t bring it back. Work closely with your photographer on your schedule to ensure extra time is awarded in places where delays are likely to occur.
2. Don’t be too discouraged by average weather. Some of the best sunset golden hours I’ve experienced have happened after a rainy day. The smallest gap in clouds on the horizon can yield the best sunset colours as the light bounces off the underside of clouds.
3. In the mountains and forest golden hour maybe be cut short. Consider that the sun might be lost earlier behind a mountain which can make photo conditions tricky.
Images: Eerik Sandstrom
4. Your photographer might suggest a location that you have seen during the day that perhaps doesn’t seem that appealing. Golden hour light has a habit of turning the most uninspiring location into golden bliss. Trust your photographer in choosing a great golden hour location. They will often consider the direction of the sun, angles of light and the time of year when suggesting locations.
5. Sometimes all you need is light. We can’t all have our photos taken on the top of a mountain at sunset. Good light is the single most important element to great photos (Along with composition and technical ability). A great photographer can produce stunning pictures when all they have is light and willing subjects.
Images: Eerik Sandstrom
6. Enhance golden hour with warm colour tones. We’ve all seen those tall yellow grass sunset portraits. They are stunning and popular for good reason. Warm yellows, oranges and reds pop in golden hour light.
7. Don’t race off as soon as the sunsets. We have a window of time called Civil Twilight, which occurs in the 30 minutes after the sun drops below the horizon. It’s when some of the most vibrant colours bounce through the atmosphere. The light becomes very soft and moody and is wonderful for real intimate portraits and silhouettes.
Image: De Lumiere Photography
Sarah from De Lumiere Photography has some superb gold hour tips you definitely want to write down for future use!
“Afternoon golden hour is the last hour (or so) before sunset where the light softens and takes on an incredible yellow hue. You will want to find a location facing west (into the setting sun) for the photos, and always check what time sunset is BEFORE you lock in the reception timeline – you will want to schedule about 15-20 minutes into the run sheet.
As a last light “specialist” there is nothing worse than watching an incredible sunset occurring outside while the speeches are going on. Also – this light disappears FAST, if your photographer comes to collect you for golden hour, drop everything and go – RUN!!!”
Images: De Lumiere Photography
Vittorio from Emot Wedding Photography mentions the below advice for catching the best shots for golden hour!
• The first and last hour of the day produces the best light as the sun is low, as the sun rises and sets it offers a more subtle colour and is softer in look and feel. Photographs usually look richer and dreamier during sunrise and sunset. The lower contrast and density make for softer imagery.
• The light during sunrise and sunset is also good because it stops squinting as the sunlight is not as direct or strong as other times during the day.
• Make sure to use a sun filter or lens hoods if you are shooting into the sun to stop the flare. You don’t necessarily want to create flare unless it’s for an effect. Use a larger aperture to let in more light. Alternatively, you can use a slower shutter speed. A combination of both will also work well.
• Shoot with the sun behind you so that the light is even on your couple’s faces and clothes. It is a good idea to switch off your flash or to set it to a minimum during sunrise and sunset, otherwise, the flash will overpower the natural light.
• With the great camera technology available now, you can still shoot even as the sun has set as the afterglow is still recordable. This is the same for sunrise – you can get the best shots just before the sun rises.
• It is worth the effort to prepare and plan for these times of the day. You need to be ready because this light is very quick to appear and disappear. Preparation will allow you to use the best few minutes of light most efficiently.
Images: Emot Wedding Photography
Leo Farrell Photography lets us in on his golden hour secrets!
“My process is the following and it helps me be prepared for my clients, be adaptable in the circumstances and provide a variety of images for my clients in terms of style and mood!”
1. Know the sunset time when meeting with clients and ask if they would like to factor some sunset pics into the photographic schedule.
2. Scope out the location so I know where the sun will be setting in order to be efficient with time!
3. Plan to have the couple outside 10-15 mins before sunset (the light definitely goes fast and I don’t want to miss it!)
4. Keep an eye on the weather as the day progresses. Be ready to adapt if the last rays of the sun will be earlier than expected due to low-lying clouds/buildings/trees on the horizon etc and proactively speak with the couple to adjust the time for them to be ready.
5. Use the light in different ways for a variety of moods, eg front-lit for a warmer feel, backlit for a high key/lens flare vibe, and side-lit for a moodier vibe.
6. Swap lenses – wide-angle for a sweeping vista and longer lens for more intimate vibes.
Images: Leo Farrell Photography
And finally, Jacob Gordon Photography shares why he loves shooting during the golden hour!
“Golden hour is usually the hour before sunset or after sunrise. During this time the sun is low in the sky and as a wedding photographer, the light is much easier to work with as it’s softer and not as harsh as the sun during the middle of the day. As the light is softer it allows us as wedding photographers to create images with a whimsical and more romantic feel. This is much more flattering than the light during midday which can cast unflattering shadows on the face. For this reason, it’s always best to schedule your couple photos during the golden hour whenever possible.
It’s important to note that the sun will set at different times throughout the year so it’s always best to check the sunset time in advance and plan your couple photos accordingly. Quite often your wedding reception will start at around 6 pm or 6:30 pm. In summer this can be during the middle of the golden hour. What I recommend is after beginning your reception head outside for 10 minutes of photos using that beautiful golden light, you won’t regret it.
The images below were taken in the 5 minutes just before sunset. The sun is just setting at the top of the trees. As you can see, the couple is backlit and the light has become golden, giving a really romantic feel…”
Images: Jacob Gordon Photography
Thanks to our amazing photographers for all their words of wisdom on how best to harness the golden-hued beauty at the beginning and end of each day!