As you plan your engagement photoshoot, you might be hearing a lot of talk about the “golden hour.” A lot of wedding professionals recommend doing your engagement session at this time of day. Even some of your friends might be telling you the same thing. And why are they all suggesting that you schedule your couples portraits then? The simple answer is that golden hour engagement photos are really beautiful! As in the kind in which you and your future spouse look perfect. The sort that are as lovely as your love story is. And the type that make all your friends wish that their own engagement pictures were that gorgeous.
That is not the only reason to schedule your engagement photoshoot during golden hour, though. There are a couple of other ways in which those sessions give you portraits to die for. Before we get into those, though, let’s take a quick minute to talk about what the golden hour even is. (A lot of sites out there just assume that you know all sorts of technical photography terms.) The golden hour is the period of time just after sunrise or just before sunset. The “golden” part of its name comes from the soft, flattering and yes, golden quality of the sunlight at that time of day. (The rest of its name is a bit of a misnomer. It is not necessarily exactly one hour. Depending on the location and time of year, it could last a couple of hours.)
So why do so many people recommend that you plan your engagement photoshoot for this time of day? Here are three reasons to schedule your engagement session during golden hour:
As we mentioned above, the main reason to get engagement photos at golden hour is that those portraits are simply gorgeous. But that is not enough of an answer for you. Let’s get into why golden hour is the best time to take engagement photos outside.
Simply put, it is the light. Before dusk and after dawn, the sun’s rays are at their most indirect. The earth’s atmosphere acts as a giant diffuser, scattering the light to make it considerably less harsh. And soft lighting is one of the keys to lovely portraiture. It is so important that photographers literally spend thousands of dollars on equipment that creates it.
At golden hour, none of that gear is necessary. The sunlight is so soft and flattering that you will look great in every shot. There will be no shadows under your eyes, for example. Any blemishes on your skin will magically disappear. Your hair will glow, especially if your engagement photographers create portraits of you with the sun behind you. In short, you will look absolutely beautiful!
The next reason why you should seriously consider an engagement photo session right after sunrise or before sunset might not be so obvious. Those times of day are great for photoshoots because there are not so many people around. If you and your future spouse are like most couples, then you have never been photographed professionally before. And like many others, you are probably feeling a bit nervous about it. (Trust us, we get it. We have been married a long time and still feel awkward whenever someone points a camera at us.) And the presence of a bunch of strangers is not likely to make things any easier for you.
In the early morning and late evening, though, public spaces are usually not so highly trafficked. That gives you and your future spouse a lot of privacy as we take your golden hour engagement pictures. And being mostly alone will help the two of you feel more relaxed and freer to cuddle up closer to each other.
The solitude you get at golden hour is doubly valuable in and around the Nation’s Capital. If you are residents of the Washington DC metro area, then you no doubt already know how many visitors descend on the city’s most popular landmarks every day. Given that those spots are often the most sought-after engagement photo locations in town, that is a problem if you do not like crowds. Scheduling your session during golden hour, however, gets you many of those places to yourself. Though there is never a time when there are not at least a few tourists wandering around the National Mall, going there at dawn or dusk does get you a lot more privacy.
As if the first two reasons to seek out golden hour engagement images were not enough, there is a bonus benefit that you also get when you schedule a shoot at those times of day. Namely, the possibility to have your engagement photographers also take sunrise or sunset photos of you!
Presumably, we do not have to sell you on how beautiful portraits of you with the sky lit up colorfully are. (If we do, please click here or here for a more detailed discussion of what is great about these pictures.) But how do work them into a session centered around golden hour?
All you have to do is get started a little earlier in the morning or keep your session going a little longer in the evening. Yes, that does require that you book a longer engagement photoshoot. (We recommend two hours, instead of the standard one. That gives you the half-hour when sunrises and sunsets are at their best plus 90 minutes of golden hour pictures.) But the dazzling images you get of a sky of fire behind you and your future spouse make that investment more than worth it.
As much as we recommend scheduling your engagement session early in the morning or late in the day, we do recognize that those are not the most convenient times of day. Especially on the weekend, which is when most betrothal photoshoots take place. Even the most diehard morning people usually like to sleep in on Saturdays and Sunday. And most couples have social plans on weekend evenings.
The good news, though, is that you do not need to have a golden hour engagement shoot to get portraits that look like they were taken then. How? Because like most professional photographers, we have a lot of the aforementioned gear that creates the same soft light that makes golden hour pictures so beautiful. We can use our flashes to eliminate midday shadowing and illuminate you during the dark of night. That same equipment can also create the gentle rim lighting that makes your hair glow just after dawn or before dusk. So no matter what time of day you pick, we can make you look gorgeous.
We actually did not need much gear to take this particular picture. The couple in the image were able to schedule their engagement photoshoot during golden hour. That turned out to be a perfect choice for the location they chose. Wietzepark, a lovely little park just outside of Hannover Germany, has a charming little pond encircled by tall grasses. It is a gorgeous spot of engagement photos, particularly in the fall and winter months, when the stalks have turned yellow-brown. That color is also perfect for a golden hour engagement session, because the sun’s rays illuminate them in a particularly lovely way. As you can see in this picture!
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