If you’re not a photographer you have likely never heard of golden hour. However, if you have had your family photos taken professionally your photographer probably booked your session in the evening because this is when the light is optimal for great photos. Of course, as a mom you don’t have the luxury of choosing the ideal light to take all your photos of your kids, but I encourage you to try and get out during golden hour at least occasionally to practice your photography skills.
Golden hour is the time of day when the sun is low in the sky and produces a golden glow across the landscape. This is generally one to two hours before sunset and one to two hours after sunrise. During this time, the sun gives off soft light and barely any shadows will be formed on your subject giving them a beautiful completion. The golden light also produces beautiful light around their face and body. In this post you will learn how to get the most out of golden hour as you hone your photography skills.
Get on the same level
When you’re taking photos of your kids you get a whole new perspective and often a better photograph if you get down on their level. This is especially true during golden hour. Getting down will allow you to place the sun right behind your subject and give them a nice golden glow from behind. It will also make it easier to position your subject for the best lighting.
Use trees or other elements
Having the light low in the sky gives you the opportunity to get the sunlight to shine through the tree leaves or other natural elements. This produces an image with more depth and can bring the focus to your subject. Play with the composition a bit for very interesting images.
Use the light rays
If you are in the right spot at the right time you can get the light to shine through the trees or other elements and create rays to shine on your subjects. Assess the light in your location and move around to try and get your subject in the right spot. This will produce a stunning photograph and is usually only possible at golden hour.
Have you seen those photos with blurred light balls in the background? This is what is known as bokeh. Using your aperture to create a shallow depth of field, you can create this effect with the light coming through a background element. With the sun low in the sky, this is easier to achieve as the light will naturally be coming through bushes, trees, etc. This is especially beautiful for portraits so have fun taking photos of your kids and practice with your aperture setting. If you don’t know what aperture is or how to get started with this, get started with my free course, Manual Mode Made Simple.
My favorite way to take photos during golden hour is to use backlighting. This just means placing the light source directly behind your subject. Positioning Igor subject this way will ensure smooth skin and beautiful colors from behind. It is magical when you get the perfect backlit photo at golden hour!
Keep ISO low and use your other settings to compensate
Again, if you are not familiar with how to change your settings, I recommend getting started with my free class, Manual Mode Made Simple. You will have so much more control of your images if you learn to adjust your settings manually. Keeping your ISO low will keep your sensor less sensitive to light. This helps keep the natural golden color without washing it out. However, you may need to allow more light into your camera by adjusting your aperture and shutter speed depending on the look you are going for.
It may be difficult to get out and take photos during this ideal time. I know, it’s dinner time, the time of day when kids seem to lose their minds, but it will be worth it. The way I make this happen is to pack a picnic for dinner and tell the family we are going to eat dinner at the park. This is a win win because it wears the kids out, I don’t have to pick up the mess after dinner, and I can get great photos. If your looking to get better with your photography, especially getting better photos of your kids, golden hour is so much more forgiving. You will likely take your best photos at this time of day!
What to do now:
Use golden hour to help you get stunning photos of your kids. This might mean getting out of the house a bit earlier or having dinner outside somewhere, but your efforts will pay off. Golden hour is the perfect time to practice using light and will almost always give you photos you love! You can pin this article for later by clicking the Pinterest icon on the side. My goal for you is that you have fun with photography and make it a part of your every day. Tag me on Instagram (@athomewithkidsblog) and show me your favorite photos.
If you haven’t already, sign up to get this series sent straight to your inbox. The series consists of 31 photography lessons that will challenge and inspire your photography so you can preserve your most treasured moments.