You may have hear the term ‘Golden Hour’ thrown about in the context of photography in the past, but what is it? Why would I care about it being a part of my wedding images, and how can I be in the best position to harness its awesomeness?
Have you ever been out and about on a summers evening and noticed the light turn really golden? If you’ve ever been for an evening stroll in the run up to sunset and spotted how your shadow gets super long when the sun is low in the sky and you’re bathed in golden light, then you’ve spotted how beautiful the Golden Hour can be.
As a photographer, I always do a happy dance when I see the light get like this at a wedding. Even out and about in my normal day to day life, I’ve been known to sit my kids in the perfect position on the park’s slide to get a quick golden hour photo (with varying degrees of success!)
Sadly, on your wedding day the Golden hour is absolutely not a given. It all depends on the weather and cloud cover, the time of year, and also, being totally honest, whether your day plan fits in with it – it’s entirely possible that you might end up bang in the middle of dinner when the light is at it’s best.
So what is the Golden Hour?
Put simply, the Golden hour refers to the time of day just after sunrise, as the sun passes the horizon, and just before sunset, just as it’s low in the sky in the evening before it sets. Unless you’re a particular early bird (or have kids waking you up at some ungodly hour like I do), it’s unlikely you’ll see too many of the morning sunrise golden hours apart from in the midst of winter when the days are shorter and you might be on your commute or indoors getting ready for the day.
The light in the golden hour is softer than daylight when the sun is higher in the sky, and more directional. It’s very flattering, and a beautiful ethereal golden colour (hence the name). It’s the perfect time to have some stunning and intimate portraits.
I make a note of when the golden hour is due to take place for every wedding I shoot (if you’re interested, I use this tool called The Photographers Ephemeris), and I’m always peeking out at the sky if I think there’s a chance for some amazing light. If I’m your photographer and you’re happy for me to do so, I might even interrupt your dinner to let you know there’s some awesome light happening, if you don’t mind dashing outside for five minutes!
How can I get those awesome golden hour photos?
The best way to ensure you have the best chance of awesome Golden Hour photos is to consider the time of year that your wedding is taking place – when is the best light likely to occur? It happens earlier in the winter months, and much later into the evening in the summer. Chat to your photographer and see if they can advise. Once you know the best time, you can work out what else is likely to be happening on your day at that time – it might be dinner, speeches, or your first dance, so you can plan accordingly.
Some important things to note…
I must also note a few important points –
- The golden hour is very rarely an actual full hour, and more often a window of about 45 minutes when the light will be at it’s best. The sun can set very quickly once it gets low in the sky, so sometimes it’s worth being in position for as long as you can as the sun gets lower.
- Obviously there are many things which can cause the golden hour to be affected or even absent, including bad weather (sure, England right!) – the best opportunity for golden light will be when there are no clouds or very low and sparse clouds on the horizon. Don’t panic if it’s raining though, I’ve still caught some incredible golden hour shots in the rain (check out Laura and Ben’s wedding here) – it all depends on what the light does and where the clouds are!
- Your venue will play a huge part in whether you’re able to get golden hour shots. You really need a clear view to the horizon, unobstructed by hills, buildings or large trees. If you’re getting married somewhere very hilly or surrounded by trees, golden hour photos might be out of the question.
Often, the best you can hope for is that the stars align and you’re able to get amazing Golden hour photos. But if it doesn’t work out, your photographer will still be able to do their thing and make the most of the light you’re dealt on the day!
Have a look below at some of my favourite ‘Golden Hour’ photos that I’ve shot in the past.
If you’re looking for a wedding photographer who knows how to work with amazing golden hour light to create amazing portraits, look no further! I’d love to chat to you about your wedding plans. Hop over to my Contact page to get in touch,