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What & When Is Golden Hour? | Your Full Guide

What & When Is Golden Hour? | Your Full Guide
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Photo by ShutterFreek

When it comes to capturing the essence of love and the beauty of a couple tying the knot, there's a specific time of day that pro photographers swear by: Golden Hour.   But what is golden hour and why is it so essential to any session?  Here's everything you need to know... 

This ephemeral period of soft, warm, and glowing light occurs during the first and last hours of sunlight each day. For those planning engagement or bridal photos, Golden Hour is not just an option; it's a necessity. Here's why shooting during this time of day is so vital.

What + When Is Golden Hour?

Golden Hour is that glowy time that happens shortly after the sun slips near the horizon, as well as the brief time after when everything has a soft and 'golden' backlit halo.  It's also a time when fields, landscapes, and of course, YOU and your S.O. light up with that incredible vibrance of evening color.  Skin tones are often perfect and the backlighting is at its best.  

To hit this time in a session, your photographer will schedule to meet with you at least an hour or so before sunset (especially if hiking is required).  

This time is so critical because, unless you are fortunate enough to have open shade with clouds, the rest of the day is virtually harsh sun and casts unflattering shadows (especially on the face).

Why It's The Best

The warm light during the Golden Hour creates that romantic gallery you dream about. It adds a gentle touch to your photographs, making you and the scenery glow in every shot. It also brings out those skin tones, reduces harsh shadows, and provides a natural, ethereal glow to your shots.

If you're reading Zion Brides on a regular basis (and we hope you do, all the love your way), odds are your engagement or bridal photoshoot includes outdoor settings.  That means Golden Hour is a must during your session. Whether it's a beach, a national park, a forest, or a desert landscape, the scenery comes alive during this time, making your photos pop!

But One Important Note...

While golden hour is critical for getting those dreamy shots, it comes with a word of caution during your hunt for a good photogapher.  You'll want to make sure your wedding photographer can handle all kinds of lighting situations, not just when it's perfect.  As most of your wedding day will take place during the day, we recommend not just looking at someone's curated shots, but full galleries to get the full scope of their work.

"A great Instagram feed does not a great wedding or elopement photographer make. Ask to see the full galleries from weddings or elopements similar to yours, or will have similar elements, to ensure you like their work and style across all facets of a wedding day (and not just those golden hour photos we all know and love)."
- Nicole Aston

That said, Golden Hour is your ideal time for engagement and bridal photos. It offers a unique and enchanting quality of light that enhances the beauty of the couple and their surroundings, creating images you'll love forever. Remember that different locations have different sunset times, so make sure your photographer knows when that will be-- wherever your session's taking place.  We hope your next photo sesh is the best one yet, and if it's during Golden Hour, we bet it will be!

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