Golden Hour Family Photography

Golden Hour Photography | What’s the Big Deal?

July 10, 2021

Golden Hour Family Photography

I’d venture to guess a few people reading this have heard of “Golden Hour” as it relates to photography or possibly magic hour. Maybe you’ve heard it’s the best time for photos. But you may wonder is it really worth it to keep my kids up extra late, get home past bedtime or even get up SUPER early.  The answer is probably, YES. Golden Hour Photography is like magic fairy dust for photos. If there was such a thing. Let me tell you why.

Bear Lake Family Photography

What is Golden Hour?

First let’s talk about what golden hour actually is.  Golden hour is roughly an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise. When the sun is low in the sky it comes in at a soft and flattering angle that makes your photos pop.  Why does the angle matter? Technically speaking the more diffused the light the better. This means when the sun is at a low angle it’s super diffused by the world’s largest diffuser thanks to our atmosphere. More angle equals more atmosphere for that light to travel through. Science is rad, right?

I bet you didn’t know this post was going to jump into science, did you.

Setting aside the technical part, golden hour light creates softer, more flattering and interesting photos. Taking it a step further, when we get to play with sun flares it gets even more dynamic.

How Do Photographers Use Golden Light

In every way imaginable! Often, I use it for soft backlighting to dramatic and playful lens flares.  What’s great about this time of day, is I can also have my clients facing the sun and it’s gentle enough no one is doing the awkward squint.

Golden light is especially flattering for portraits as it fills skin for a smooth finish. Which is exactly what I need!

Spokane Photographer Golden Hour Portraits

4 Tips For Keeping Kids Up for Golden Hour

  1. Don’t let them nap in the car. Brings games, sing songs, basically do all the things to avoid prematurely snoozing. This never ends well when you wake them up for a session
  2. Push naps later in the day. Even an extra 30 minutes helps.
  3. Keep the day of the shoot relaxed. Stay home and just hang out. Shoot day isn’t the time for hiking adventures and birthday parties.
  4. Work with a family photographer that is ready to roll with whatever comes. Finding a photographer that is comfortable working with kids (even on the grumpy days) helps smooths out the bumps with staying up late.
Spokane Photographer Golden Hour Portraits

What to do if you can’t make golden hour

Don’t fret if golden hour really isn’t doable.  As photographers, we LOVE golden hour but more than that we want you to get in front of the camera and document your rad life. Here are a few options if sunset isn’t an option.

  1. Get up early. Golden hour is also right after sunrise.
  2. Shoot in the shade
  3. Photographers can fill in the shadows with a little flash
  4. Skip posed photos and opt for an activity that will keep everyone engaged in and not squinting in the sun. Think hiking, baking cookies, riding scooters or document a trip to the playground.

Friends! Golden hour is worth staying up late for or getting up early…If you can swing it. Did you know that even on cloudy days you can still take advantage of that light? So, don’t despair if you plan everything out for an evening shoot and the clouds roll in. Sometimes those shots can be even more dynamic.

As a Spokane photographer, for my maternity session and family photography sessions, my first choice is always this magical time.

Happy Shooting!  If you’re interested in setting up your own golden hour of goodness, drop me an email mb@mbbryantimages or hit the contact form here.



Spokane Photographer Self Portrait

P.S. For more on my style of family photography, check out How to Prepare for a Lifestyle Session and What to Expect at a Family Photography Session.

Life’s biggest adventures in modern photos co-crafted with you. Spokane Photographer | Serving the Pacific Northwest

Life’s biggest adventures in modern photos co-crafted with you. Spokane Photographer | Serving the Pacific Northwest

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