Golden hour is undoubtedly the best time of the day for any photographer. It occurs twice a day; before sunset and just a little after sunrise. Photos taken during this time come out beautifully and don’t require any additional lighting.

This is actually an amazing time to shoot if you’re starting out as a photographer and don’t have your own lighting equipment. Compared to any other time of the day, golden hour is truly golden. Reason being, that the sun is aligned in such a way that it emits a soft, warm, reddish tone. The natural light helps produce magical photos and it trumps any sort of artificial lighting.

How to effectively use Golden Hour


This term is used when the sun is positioned behind the subject to increase lighting in the back. It creates a warming effect and the object looks like its glowing.

Front lighting

Good lighting is everything and getting your subjects photographed in good lighting will result in wonderful pictures. The softness of the sun during Golden Hour allows you to place your subjects in front of the sun. It will be effortless to shoot and no one will complain about the sun being too harsh and getting in their eyes.

Magical landscape scenery

Taking photos during Golden Hour, especially of scenery is extraordinary. Everything appears to be softer and more natural. The warmth and depth of the sun create the perfect natural filter, making images stand out more than they normally would. Go to scenic places during these times to get the best quality photos.

golden hour

Adding some flare

Normally, photographers try to get rid of any flares that appear in pictures, but during Golden Hour things get interesting. The sun is at such a perfect angle that it gives you so much to work with creatively.

During Golden Hour take note of the illuminating glow that’s produced when the light hits your camera lens. The flare you get all depends on how you position your camera lens towards the light. Try out different angles and see what you like most. Different light produces different pictures; this is actually really fun to play around with!

Rim Lighting

Rim Lighting is a great way to draw attention and focus particularly on the subject. With rim lighting, the background behind the subject is usually dark. The rays outline the subject and result in a halo effect. For greater emphasis try placing your subject directly in front of the darker background. Also, remember to move around to find the best rim lighting.

Shadows are taken care off

At any other time of the day, the sun creates unflattering shadows that can make your subject look dreadful. From under eye shadows to shadows that enlarged your subject’s nose; it’s horrible. However, during Golden Hour the sun hits the subject from a great position. This instantly creates a shadow that’s complimentary and could even look a bit dramatic if you play around.

golden hour

Things to remember:

Avoid shooting when it’s cloudy

Cloudy weather can jeopardize Golden Hour, that’s why you should always check the weather beforehand. If you’re faced with cloudy weather rather reschedule to when the weather has cleared up. The clouds will block out the beautiful warmth of the sun and pictures will not come out as expected.

Be accurate when finding Golden Hour

Golden hour isn’t constant and it all depends on where in the world you live. Sunset and sunrise time changes daily and this obviously needs to be taken into consideration. Another determining factor also depends on how close or how far away you are from the equator. Living closer to the equator will give you a shorter golden hour than living further from the equator. Seasons also play a role, winter will give you a shorter time than summer.

Always use a tripod

This will not only give you stability when experimenting but it will make capturing beautiful pictures a lot easier. Also, try increasing your ISO settings but be wary of noise increasing.

Great photographers always try out new things, challenge yourself regularly and you might just surprise yourself!