Golden Hour Wedding Photos

Golden hour is what we photographers call the hour before the sun sets. It is especially helpful to know what time this occurs on your wedding day, and to schedule photos at this time for the following reasons:

  • The warm, golden light that the setting sun creates is flattering on virtually everyone in photos.
  • I don't have to be concerned with where the light is located in position to my subjects, in terms of posing. This makes any location versatile and opens up so many options for creating a variety of pictures:
  • I can pose you facing the sun, and since the light is softer at this time of day, we don't have to worry about you squinting towards the camera. You can look directly in the sun's direction comfortably.
  • I can also pose you facing away from the sun. The beautiful golden sunlight will create a rim or halo around you, for a completely different effect in the same location.
  • I can create sharp or hazy backlit photos in this same position, simply by changing out a lens hood or blocking the strong light rays with a hand.
  • With a few changes in my camera's settings, I can then create a sillhouette with the colorful sky behind you (keeping in mind that the sky will only be colorful if there is not full cloud cover)
  • This one hour within sunset time typically occurs on a wedding day during the reception, often while guests are eating dinner or mingling / dancing. Setting aside 20 minutes of time with your photographer during golden hour will:
  • give you a break from the crowd of onlookers, allowing you to spend a few quiet moments with your new spouse in the fresh air of the outdoors.
  • result in a variety of portrait styles delivered by your photographer, even if they're taken in the same location as your portraits taken earlier in the day, traditionally right after your ceremony.
  • not bother any of your guests, who will be occupied at this time, already fed, and being actively entertained by the festivities you've planned for them.

Since my wedding photography business is located in Ohio, I think it's important to point out the effects that different seasons can have on golden hour wedding photos:

  • Winter golden hour happens around 4:30-5:00 PM, making the timeline a bit different than that of a wedding in the more popular Summer season. You might want to schedule an earlier ceremony and dinner at this time of year to accommodate for the early light change.
  • Winter also often presents fully cloudy skies, which are not ideal for golden hour photos. The sky will simply slowly darken during the hour before sunset, without creating the warm colors of light you would see with a clear or partially cloudy sky.

Sunset Wedding

I recommend you structure your wedding day timeline to include golden hour photos as newlyweds, but be aware of the effects that the season and the weather will have on your ability to achieve the effect you're hoping for. Ask your wedding photographer for advice up front when creating your timeline, and also as the day approaches and the weather forecast is available to you.

Looking for more tips for creating your wedding day timeline? Click here for a helpful article!

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