Photographers and golden hour are like peanut butter and jelly. It's one of the most common tips you hear - "golden hour is the best lighting for portraits" and yes. It typically is. Most portrait photographers who use natural light will begin their shoots 1-2 hours prior to sunset, some even prefer starting just 30 minutes before sunset to start their shoot the minute that bangin' GOLD, streaky, sun-flared-filled, warm, epic, sun-on-the-horizon movie scene light is alive. It is truly enchanting. For a long time, I sought this too.
But I didn't super love golden hour. My nightmares, I mean my literal nightmares that I wake up from in the night, are about shoots starting too late and the sun is gone and it's the middle of the night and I've got my camera and I'm panicking. Golden hour is a (relatively) small window of time unless you live in Iceland where they've got 3 hour sunsets half the year (goalz) and if a client is late, you can miss it. Watching the sun dip below the horizon as I get that text "15 minutes away!" has actually probably taken a few years off of my life.
But here's the story. I really misjudged sunset time for this anniversary shoot with Laney and Brigham. We arrived way too early! The sun was still pretty high in the sky and I was like craaaaaaap. To make things trickier, this was a location with no shade at all! I was squinting as I tried to check that my exposure was balanced and using my hand to shade my eyes the entire time. As I was driving home from the shoot, it still wasn't even sunset yet (typically photographers drive home in the dark!) and the thought running through my head was "OMG these might look terrible". I popped them into the computer later that night
SO BRIGHT. SO HAPPY. Sunset was SO far away that I wasn't stressed at all about running out of light. In fact, I felt more relaxed to take my time with each shot because I knew I could afford to take things slow. We could talk between shots for as long as we wanted. They told more stories of how they met and what was going on in their lives and I could just put the camera down and really listen rather than interrupt.
The colors were all so vibrant and lively! Laney and Brigham's skin glowed against the golden grasses and the blue sky was so vivid. These images truly reflected the brightness and happiness I strive to capture in every picture. Bright and happy is kind of my THING and this type of light, earlier than golden hour, just CLICKED with my style.
So, photographers and golden hour may be peanut butter and jelly. But Emily and bright light might just be peanut butter and chocolate.