Why 1 Hour Prior To Sunset Is the Best Time Of Day For Natural Light Photography

Both of these photos were taken in the same spot and edited with the same editing preset.  The only difference was the time of day taken.


First off, let’s talk about why natural light is so important for portrait photography. Natural light provides a soft and flattering glow to the subject’s skin, making them appear more vibrant and alive in the photo. It also creates depth and dimension in the photo, enhancing the overall composition.

Now, let’s get into the specifics of why 1 hour prior to sunset is the best time of day for natural light portrait photography. During this time, the sun is low in the sky, creating a warm and golden light that is perfect for portrait photography. This type of light is often referred to as “golden hour” or “magic hour” and can create stunning and ethereal photos.

Controllable Light

Additionally, during this time, the light is more directional, which means it’s easier to manipulate and create interesting shadows and highlights in the photo. This can be used to create depth and texture in the photo, making it more visually appealing

Soft, Even Light

One other major benefit of shooting during this time is that the sun is not directly overhead, which can create unflattering shadows and harsh light on the subject’s face. Shooting during golden hour allows for a more even and natural lighting on the subject.


Colors are more vibrant during golden hour in contrast to the middle of the day. During midday, the sun is directly overhead, creating a harsh and bright light that can wash out colors and create unflattering shadows. In contrast, during golden hour, the sun’s light is more scattered, creating a soft and warm glow that enhances the colors in the photo. This means that colors in the photo, such as the green of the trees or the blue of the sky, will appear more vibrant and vivid, adding to the overall beauty and aesthetic of the photo. So, not only is golden hour great for flattering and directional lighting, but it also enhances the colors in the photo. It’s truly a magical time for photography!

Dynamic Range

Another important piece affected by time of day is dynamic range. Dynamic range refers to the range of brightness values in a photo, from the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights. During midday, the sun’s harsh light can create a high dynamic range, making it difficult to capture detail in both the shadows and highlights of the photo. In contrast, during golden hour, the dynamic range is lower and more manageable, making it easier to capture detail in both the bright and dark areas of the photo. This means that the photographer has more control over the exposure and can achieve a well-balanced and detailed photo. So not only does golden hour create a flattering and warm light, and enhance colors, but it also allows for easier control over the dynamic range of the photo. It’s truly the perfect time for portrait photography.


How To Get The Most Out Of Your Session


Photography is not just about having an expensive camera or creating an Instagram page. It is an art that involves a combination of expert use of light and composition. When booking a professional photographer, you are essentially paying for an expert in light and composition.

The time of day and location of the shoot are crucial contributors to the final image. Many people often see an image they like on Instagram or Pinterest and want something similar. However, the problem with this approach is that the photo may have been taken under completely different circumstances, in a different location, with a different type of light, or even professionally styled. Thus, trying to replicate someone else’s work can be challenging, if not impossible.

Different areas of the world bring about different types of light, making it difficult for photographers to match another photographer’s work, even if they use the same gear. Therefore, when booking a photographer, it is best to rely on their expertise and allow them to use their creativity to create something beautiful and unique to you.

I want to preface this section by noting you will get the best results if you leave full creative control of your session to us.  That being said, rather than trying to copy someone else’s work, clients should focus on communicating their vision to their photographer. By doing so, photographers can work with clients to create an image that matches their hopes and dreams. Clients should trust their photographer’s expertise in selecting the location, as they have the knowledge and understanding of how different types of light work in relation to camera gear.

Booking a professional photographer means you are hiring an expert who has spent years mastering the art of light and composition. Therefore, it is essential to let the photographer take the lead in the creative process. It is also important to remember that the images on a photographer’s website are based on their professional opinion, and not client ideas. Trusting your photographer’s expertise will ultimately result in images that exceed your expectations and are unique to you.