Golden Hour vs. Mid-Day Session Time Comparison

Whenever possible, I recommend to my clients that they schedule their session during golden hour. Golden hour 1-2 hours before sunset, when the sunlight is soft and warm. Harsh shadows are no longer a concern and the subjects in the photos are able to be backlit which separates them from the background.

I did the follow sessions in the same exact location, just hours apart. The photos on the left were taken at 10:30 a.m.  The sun was fully out (not a cloud in the sky). The photos on the right were taken at 4:30 p.m. on an October day in Wisconsin when sunset is 6 p.m.

You can see why 1-2 hours before sunset called “golden hour.” The light during that time of day make things pop and glow.

Scheduling a session 60-90 minutes before sunset isn’t always ideal for families, especially families with small children. During the summer months this might mean a session doesn’t start till after their regularly scheduled bedtime. I’m a mom of three….I get it. Naptime and bedtime are two things you usually don’t want to mess with. (Keyword is usually.) I encourage you to adjust your schedule for one day and give golden hour a chance for your session time. My sessions are made to be high energy and fun. We play games, sing songs and be goofy for the 30-60 minutes to get them through any grumps they may have and you’ll love the outcome of the photos.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the way both of these sessions turned out. The connection with the family members is more important than lighting, but for me, lighting is a close second. It’s just not possible to get the photos on the right mid-day…even if it’s overcast.

One key thing about golden hour is the sun has to be out for it to count. An overcast day will result in a different feel to the photos. And within 2 hours of sunrise also count as “golden hour” and are also beautiful times to do sessions as well. I think the earliest I met a family was at 6:15 a.m. and everyone survived…even the husband 🙂