10 Reasons to Shoot Portraits During the Golden Hour [Illustrated]

10 Reasons to Shoot Portraits During the Golden Hour [Illustrated]

The hour or so before the sun goes down is a wonderful time to shoot portraits – this ‘Golden Hour’ is renowned among photographers for the qualities of its light and creative possibilities.

10 Reasons to Shoot Portraits During the Golden Hour with 20 Gorgeous Examples

Here’s just a few of them:

1. Gorgeous Warm Light


Day 344

cinderella girl

The colour of light at this time of day can just makes your subjects glow.

2. Light Picking Up Anything in the Air

16-05-10 Last Of The Summer (Wine)

life gave me lemonade and I can't imagine why

Any particles in the air get picked up and highlighted in the light shining in from just above the horizon.

3. Silhouettes

FreedoM....(?´Explored #103)•º?

We better run

Shoot into the sun and the possibilities for full or partial Silhouettes are endless.

4. Lens Flare

She's A Little Bit Country


While sometimes seen as something to be avoided – another possibility with shooting into the sun is lens flare which can add atmosphere to your shots when used in moderation.

5. Take it Indoors


Off to Neverland

Golden hour need not just be an out door thing. If you have a window or open doorway where the light streams through you can get some beautiful indoor golden hour shots too!

6. Moody Clouds

Voice of Autumn (Week 35 / 52)

It’s not just about the light and colour hitting your subject – but also how it hits the sky and landscape around them and how they create mood and atmosphere in your shot.

7. Monochromatic Possibilities

open door

This time of the day isn’t just about the colours – it’s also about the angle of light which lends itself to black and white photography too.

8. Rims of Light

the princess and the panda

Son in Sun

"I lay these eggshells to remember to be careful"

Shoot with the sun behind your subject and you create rims of light around them which accentuate features and create magic! It’s particularly good through hair!

9. Shadows Shadows Shadows

Hello Stranger

The angle that light hits your subject at this time of day is like any other time – creating striking shadow that can really make a portrait.

10. Just Because

I will never let you go

Theres just something about Golden Hour – what would you add?

Further Reading

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Steph September 27, 2013 10:05 am

    @ Alex Elizabeth Halford's web sight has a great series on how to do back lit photos. Hope that will help http://www.elizabethhalford.com/photography-tutorials/photographing/shooting-backlit-101-tutorial-series/
    there are also several more detailed how to's on DPS that have some great info.

  • GoldenPic App February 22, 2013 02:17 pm

    A great app to use for finding the Golden Hour is GoldenPic (available for iPhone and Android)!

    GoldenPic will give you the times for the Golden Hours, Blue Hours, Sunrise, Sunset, Moonrise, Moonset, Moon Phase, weather, GPS info and much, much more!

    Check it out at http://goldenpic.jebsapps.com/app/ and let us know what you think.

  • Manoj Taunk January 4, 2013 05:56 pm

    Sun rays yellow color, it is difficult to shoot with Nikon D5000, Please suggest right camera

  • Beth Carbone September 28, 2012 02:13 am

    I loved these photos, especially the one of the young man reading in the autumn leaves. Your composition is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

  • Mihai Scarlat August 31, 2012 04:19 pm

    Also landscapes are great on Golden Hour:

  • Pam Keast August 31, 2012 02:09 pm

    I loved this group of photos! great ideas to try. Gave me a lot of inspiration. Thank you

  • Cathie August 31, 2012 10:13 am

    Wonderful shots here. Thank you for positing. I will be trying some of these tonight as we have wonderful sunsets at the moment.

  • Deb Jones August 31, 2012 08:13 am

    Wow…….How very inspiring. I can't wait to get out and start shooting…. What a wonderful selection of images to showcase the 'Golden Hour" .


  • Timothy Bateup August 31, 2012 07:49 am

    All of these example photos are outstanding!! Plenty of inspiration here!! THANKS for the post!

  • Diane Bohlen August 31, 2012 07:32 am

    Great tutorial. Short with great examples. May I take this opportunity to thank you for all the help I have gotten from this site. I recommend it to all my friends.

  • Chris August 31, 2012 03:30 am

    I dont find the sun in any of these shots distracting. Quite the opposite. Anyone can take a traditional boring portrait, these have character that makes them far more interesting!

  • Germán Ortiz August 31, 2012 03:18 am

    I love the golden hour! Great article!
    This is a photo a little before the real golden hour, with flare and siluoette painted by the sun light

  • Alex W August 31, 2012 03:17 am

    This part has always confused me: do I use a reflector/white-bounce reflector to help balance the lighting a bit more on my subject's face? It just seems like trying to capture the subject's face with a strong backlight such as the sun would end up blowing out the sun we wanted to see originally. Any suggestions/ideas/experiences?

  • Pete August 31, 2012 02:36 am

    Must admit some of the lens flare shots are a little bit too much. But that is why photography is so special as everyone will have a different view on what they see.
    The shots that I really do like are Day 344, Practice, Open door, and Hello Stranger.

  • Geoff_K August 31, 2012 01:56 am

    The shots where the sun is SO distracting it takes my eyes from the subject and the ones with streaks of light across the person are every so distracting and as a client i would NOT be happy that the main eye draw is something other than me. /shrugs

  • Kimble Photography August 30, 2012 02:09 pm

    Excellent post and exquisite work. My favorites is the boy casting a shadow on the wall, absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  • Zain Abdullah August 30, 2012 01:45 pm

    I have experimented shooting my own children under the golden light. Here are some result:





  • Mirjam Adolphi August 30, 2012 10:29 am

    Inspirational reading and watching.
    Thank you.

  • Zain Abdullah August 30, 2012 03:17 am

    I have experimented with my own kids:





  • Georges Petrequin August 29, 2012 10:22 pm

    Hi, thanks a lot for including my picture (5th one down)!

  • ccting August 29, 2012 11:04 am

    wow...great photos, any photo above using kit lens 18-55mm?

  • Mikhail Anand August 29, 2012 02:38 am

    Silhouettes And Shadows!! http://mikhailanand.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/beach-stroll/

  • Barry E. Warren August 29, 2012 01:35 am

    The Golden Hour light is amazing. just wish it lasted longer. I do alot of shooting during the golden hour. nice tips .

  • Val August 28, 2012 05:27 pm

    Great set of images

  • raghavendra August 28, 2012 12:48 pm

    Golden hour is one of the best things in photography. Never thought of taking portraits at that time
    I should give a try.


  • Abigail August 28, 2012 12:42 pm

    I love these pictures...they are awesome!!!

  • Jai Catalano August 28, 2012 11:51 am

    That was a very inspirational group of photos. The panda was humorous.

  • Mei Teng August 28, 2012 10:39 am

    Love golden hour portraits.

  • Ethan August 28, 2012 10:35 am

    These pictures are mind blowing......have to try :)

  • Scottc August 28, 2012 09:54 am

    A great selection of portraits, I've never seen a collection that represents the possibilities so well as this.

    Portraits seem to remain my WEAKEST genre, I need to work on that.


  • Juan August 28, 2012 08:33 am

    Great use of examples to make your points. Thank you Darren.