Tips & Tricks: Capturing the Golden Hour Glow

Golden Hour Wedding Photography

“Golden hour.” These are two words that immediately make us think of dreamy hues, happiness, nostalgia and Kacey Musgraves (shameless plug: her “Golden Hour” album is absolutely magical!) While golden hour, technically speaking, is the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset, most wedding references to golden hour are referring to the hour that occurs in the evening. Oftentimes, golden hour shots are some of the most spectacular shots captured at a wedding! So, what’s the secret? What’s the best way to take golden hour pictures in the best possible light? Here are Miilu’s six tips & tricks for photographing stunning sunset shots and capturing your couple’s “golden hour glow!”

Depending on where you live and the season you are in, golden hour may be more than an exact 60 minutes, or maybe even a little less. Regardless, you are going to want to head outside at LEAST an hour before sunset to make sure you capture the photos. Miilu’s Weather feature tells you a month before your event when sunset will be so you can coordinate your shot list and plan with the event coordinator accordingly!

When the time comes to skip the soup being served or sneak out while guests hit the dance floor, you want to know exactly where you are taking your couple! Plan ahead and look beforehand to see where there are opportunities for golden hour shots around the reception venue. Hiking all over creation is not going to be an option when time is limited, so find an ideal spot and stick to it!

Since the sun is technically “setting,” the light is going to be changing throughout the hour you are shooting — sometimes rather rapidly! Make sure to keep your light settings adjusted as the amount of sunlight that is available starts to decrease!

Did you know that there is an actual word for the so-called “glow” that surrounds couples at golden hour? It’s “flare.” When light hits your camera lens and scatters — BAM! You get the full flare effect as a haze comes across you image. Flare can make for GORGEOUS photos, and the key to using the flare technique correctly is positioning yourself at the best angle for the photo! Finding the best position may take a couple of tries, so don’t be afraid to move around, all up and down!

Rim lighting looks AMAZING in golden hour photos. If you catch the light at just the right time, a slight glow will surround the subject of your photo against the darker background you are photographing. The light will appear to be outlining your couple. Just hide the flash right behind the couple, and then point the flash back directly at your couple. VOILA! A silhouette worth SWOONING over is coming right up!

Well, maybe not all, but aperture definitely is an important part of golden hour photography! Make sure that your aperture is set to a larger opening so that more light will travel through and hit the sensor in your camera — essentially adding more light and warmth to your photos! (Side note while we are on the subject of settings: make sure your white balance is also manually set, and not just on auto, to avoid any of your images having a “blue haze” over them!)

If you have not noticed, we are a huge fan of golden hour shots — and we hope these tips and tricks are beneficial as you snap wedding day portraits! Got any tips you would like to share when it comes to capturing the golden hour glow? Have any further questions or comments about golden hour? Let us know in the comments below!

Note: the second photo in this article is credited to Kathy Thomas (@kathythomasphoto).


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