What is Golden Hour? | Fairfax, VA Family Photography

Golden Hour, Golden Hour, Golden Hour. If you’re a photographer, then you’ve probably heard this term a lot. If you’re a momma, then you may have heard of this magical Golden Hour and at the same time not really 100% understand what it means. When I first started this business it felt like this distant, unknown thing to me. What is this Golden Hour and how do I find it? How do I know when it will happen? Let me break it down for you with a little bit of a scientific explanation and how it can be great for photography.
In a nutshell, Golden Hour is:

1. …the first hour of sunlight and the last hour of sunlight. As soon as the sun rises, the 60 minutes that follows is the first Golden Hour of the day. The last 60 minutes before the sun sets over the horizon is the last Golden Hour of the day. (Should we really call it Golden Hours then? Let’s not get into that.) Plain and simple, right? Well, kind of, but I will get into that in my next blog.

2. …when the angle of the sunlight is on a horizontal plane. This is key because the sun rays have to go through more of our atmosphere which cuts down on the blue tones and gives us the golden/warm tones. The angle of the sun also provides softer light and gives long, dramatic shadows.

3. …when stark shadows and harsh overhead light is gone. Think about a ceiling light in your house. Now look in a mirror. The light comes straight down, causes shadows under your eyes, nose, and chin. Sometimes this may be the look you are going for to create a certain feel in your images. For my family photography style, I prefer a more moody, warm, and soft light.

Am I trying to convince you that Golden Hour is the best time for warm, cuddly family photos? Absolutely. 

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