This afternoon we have another edition of Ask the Experts and James & Lianne are here as resident photography experts to talk about the wonder that is the Golden Hour. We hear a lot about it (especially from our American friends) when it comes to those perfect portraits, but what actually is it?!
What is the Golden Hour?
You may often hear photographers speaking about a magical time of the day called the golden hour. It’s something we all hope for, but it’s not often clear what it is or what it means for you.
The golden hour is the hour right around sunset. On anything but an overcast day, as the sun sets and sinks lower towards the horizon, the light changes, becomes more dynamic and more flattering. In the UK, with our weather, there’s no guarantee of this happening but you can bet on your photographer hoping for some magical light to really get their creative juices flowing and you’ll only be thanking yourselves later if you take their advice and make time for it in the evening.
In the winter, the golden hour will typically be as early as 3-4pm. In the summer, 8-9pm. There’s never a set time for it, just a ballpark schedule, which makes it an unpredictable event. So here’s the part where you come in. If your photographer comes into your meal and tells you, as soon as you’ve finished desert to come out for a few photos… do it! It might be called the golden hour but the best bit is but a brief few minutes where the light, the sky and the scenery just becomes perfect. Missing the opportunity is utterly disheartening for a photographer, watching the beauty of it all just disappear as you wait for coffee! That’s why they’ll be bold enough to come in between courses and give you a heads-up. Most often throughout the early and late summer months, the ‘turnaround’ time between your meal and the evening reception coincides with the golden hour so it’s certainly something to take advantage of for a few minutes. Otherwise, let your photographer guide you. They’ll liaise with your co-ordinator if it affects any other part of your day (which it likely won’t).
So what do you get during the golden hour? For us, we use it as our experimental time. We get all the shots we need during the day. In the evening, we get all the shot we want. It’s a time where we can test ideas, experiment with lighting and just try things. Think, rays of sunshine, flares and silhouettes. All the things that aren’t possible with your mid-day portrait session. Being creative means not everything your photographer is going to work, and may end up on the metaphorical cutting room floor but the ones that work… boy will they work! For you, it’s a much more flattering light. It’s softer, less harsh shadows and the colour is warmer and more forgiving for a wide range of skin tones.
The easiest thing you can do to take advantage of it is to simply see when the sunset is on your wedding day – you can just google it – and be aware, that given the right conditions, your photographer will be right on hand to make the most of it and you’ll be thanking each other for making their day.
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James & Lianne have been a couple for 14 years and photographers for 6 scooping up awards along the way. They love shooting relaxed, fun weddings and have a penchant for all things analogue, especially film photography.
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