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Why to photograph at sunset?

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

Everyone knows that photographing at Golden Hour is my passion and I leave it stated all around, including as one of my goals to every session. In this post I'll share - and prove in photos - why choosing sunset will level up experience for your family, maternity, engagement or whatever is the purpose of your pictures!

First of all, what is Golden Hour?

That brief moment before sunrise and sunset when the Sunlight reached the horizon and we see all that defused light all over the atmosphere. At this time, the light is less intense and the blue light filtered. Meaning that the light that touches us at this point of the day is redder and softer.

How to find the right place?

We are blessed everyday with the sunset and many beautiful conditions that will make that day special. If you are at the beach with your family, watching the sunset will have a different meaning as if you were going back home after a full day at work, for example. The sensations and memories are unique at each time.

That's why I, as a family photographer, am a golden hour chaser. Because the warmth of this time of the day brings a special vibe to my images and, consequently, create a cozy aura around my subjects.

Picking the right location, then, is extremely important to succeed. So your photographer (aka me) will know the best locations to have the perfect experience in Richmond, VA and surroundings.

- open fields with tall grass (my favorite!)

- top of the mountains;

- by the river;

- at the beach (US west coast lucky residents);

- at a rooftop with a skyline that defuses the Sun rays;

What's the right time?

So let's say the closer to sunset the better, but why? Early in the day when the Sun is up above our heads, the light tends to be super harsh creating shadows that are not pretty in photography - unless this is your style, so that's cool. Also, there are different ways we can work with harsh light to make it artistic!

Otherwise we don't really want shadow under the eyes, or shadows that hide the beauty of the scene or even the subject.

What I normally do is to start shooting one hour and 45 minutes before Sunset (if it's a 90 min sesh) or 45 min if a 30 min session. When starting I get the diffused light and when almost wrapping the session the Sun is at horizon, and BAM, the Golden Hour.

TIP: objects, people's long shadows on the ground indicate good time for photos! hehe

Any tips?

I do have some golden nuggets for families with kids so check it out!

- If you are calm, the kids will be too. Try to slow down on the day of the session and enjoy the pre-photos moments not stressed (even though I know it can be a little overwhelming). Plan ahead, give your kids a bath, sing a song with them and voila!

- Plan bedtime later or push naps a little later if possible. Specially during summer that Sunset it later on the day, you could try to moving kids' bedtime later a few days prior the session and then moving it earlier afterwards. That will help your kids be awake and happy during the family session!

- Hungly family is not happy family. Make sure everyone have dinner two hours before the session and you can also bring a snack (which is also a treat) for after the session.

- Always wear the kids appropriate clothing for the weather. I know us adults can deal easily with the cold but your kids don't. They will get grumpy or even cry if they are too hot or too cold.

- Plan B can save the day! If we feel the kids are not into the photos, even after doing all the previous tips to prepare them, a plan B takes place. That means you can bring toys, stuffed animals, blankets etc to warm them up and have fun.


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