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THE BEST TIME FOR OUTDOOR PHOTOS|Chester County Photographer|

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the web (which I’ll go ahead and assume you have) then I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “golden hour” by now. If this term is new to you, let me explain. Golden hour is what all of us photographers consider to be the most magical hour to photograph in. The sun is not too high in the sky and the golden tones it produces is enough to make us photographers jump for joy. The lighting is soft and beautiful and the intentional light can add an extra layer of artistic interest to any image.

But you aren’t here to talk about why us photographers love it so much are you? No of course not! You are wondering why it’s worth keeping your kids up past their bed time, and well friend, I’m here to tell you everything you need to know and I’ll convince you why this is the only time you should ever get photos taken outdoors.

First you may be wondering...When is this golden hour you speak of?

I wish I could sit here and tell you its at 6:00pm every night, but unfortunately its not that simple. Golden hour describes the hour (or two) prior to the sun setting (or rising, but lets be honest...I’m not getting up that early) . Obviously, the exact time depends on the time of year and even the month. For example, here in PA the sun sets around 4:00pm in the winter months, so that would make the golden hour from 3:00PM - 4:00Pm (give or take) while in the summer months the sun sets much later, sometimes as late as 8:00PM. So it’s likely that you and your photographer will choose an exact time for photos as your shoot date gets closer. A good way to figure this out is by simply Googling “what time will the sun set on {the date of your session} at {the location of your shoot}”. Then you can assume your session will likely begin the hour prior to sunset.

“But Stephanie, that’s past my kids bedtime!”

I hear this ALL. THE. TIME. From parents with young children, and as a parent with little ones myself, trust me I get it. Bed time is a sacred event in our house and the thought of keeping my kids up much later than that time bring along visions of temper tantrums and melt downs. BUT hear me is worth it. I promise you it’s worth keeping them up a little bit later. If your kids still nap (you lucky duck) then simply try to put them down a little later that usual for that nap to accommodate that extra time past bed. If your kids are older, typically they will love hearing that they get to stay up late. At the end of the day, even if worst case scenario they are a little cranky, a good photographer can easily work around it.

“Ok, ok, I’m starting to come around to this idea, but how will it effect my final images...”

Good, I knew you would! Listen up golden hour is the most flattering light on every single subject. The angle of the sun at this hour is around 6 degrees and dances with all elements in it’s environment. Everything at the horizon softens and scatters as it blends with the beautiful golden and violet tones from the sun setting. The low light naturally eliminates those harsh shadows that come in the afternoon hours and creates beautiful even lighting on your face. It makes every skin tone literally glow and allows for golden streaks of light to beam through flowey hair. While this low and directional light is fun to play with from a photographers perspective, it also brings along a sense of nostalgia and warmth in your images and provokes those beautiful emotions we aim to capture.

So let’s wrap this all up shall we?

Golden hour...aka the hour or so leading up to sunset provides a warm and dreamy atmosphere to take photos in, is flattering on every skin tone, will provoke emotion and nostalgia, and with a later nap then usual your kids will do just fine in the later hours.

Simply put, golden hour is a V-I-B-E.

And if ya ask me...there’s no better time to have photos taken outside.



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