Ah the golden hour. That's what photographers call the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset when the light is softer and warmer than when the sun is higher in the sky; think yellow and cozy versus white hot.
In Texas, the morning golden hour provides the added benefit of cooler temperatures during the heat of the summer so I'm often leaving the house at 6:30am for a 7:30am session just as the sun is rising. The light is gorgeous and I'll utilize trees and buildings to extend that time before the sun rises to the point where it directly beams onto my subject.
Here are three examples of images that glow with early morning, golden hour light.
Not the Golden Hour
Even though Roxanne is beautiful in this image, you can definitely see the difference in the quality of light between this and the above images; it's more of a white light and "harsher" with hard-edged shadows. One is not necessarily better than the other, they are just different. For family portraits, either with or without their pets, I do recommend scheduling sessions during either the morning or evening golden hour as the light is more flattering on human skin and features (like wrinkles - eek!).
I utilize the evening golden hour more in the winter when it's cold in the morning and we WANT that afternoon warmth, so everyone gets to sleep in a little! In the summertime that can mean an 8:00 or 8:30pm session which can still be a bit too warm for pets when our temps here in the Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex often don't fall below 80 degrees for weeks at a time. Your take away from this blog should be that the golden hour is worth getting up early for!
Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography is a Certified Professional Photographer with the organization Professional Photographers of America; a designation held by fewer than 2,500 photographers nationwide and a hallmark of consistency, technical skill, artistry and professionalism. Penny Whistle specializes in both natural light and studio photography providing pet, couple and engagement, family and high school senior portraits as well as corporate headshots and commercial photography in her studio located in old town Carrollton as well as out on location in Coppell and surrounding communities in Dallas – Fort Worth, Texas.