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My 3 Favourite Tips for Golden Hour Portraits this Summer

It’s that time of the year again… golden hour light couldn’t be more sensational and summery!

Something about the soft, warm dreamy light makes taking portraits so much easier – everything just feels perfect. But it’s not always easy to capture the perfect light, as the golden sunlight can sometimes be so overpowering, it’s easy to create a sunlit, washed out portrait…

So here are 3 Top Tips for Golden Hour Portraits which you can implement right now – today, and capture your own golden hour portraits.


Tip #1 – Pick the Right Lens

Picking the right lens for your portraits can make a big difference to your portraits. Mainly because certain lens lengths can make your life a lot easier, as it’s easier to focus the light, and channel it – rather than let it overpower your shot.

I would recommend lenses such as:-

  • 85mm
  • 100mm
  • 135mm

These focal length will create the same effect as the photographs in this post.

However, if you use a wider angle lens, then the sun isn’t as easy to capture, like we have done here.

My 3 Favourite Tips for Golden Hour Portraits this Summer


Tip #2 – Composition

The second, and most important thing you do is compose your photograph, so you get the right balance of light.

If you take a look at the portrait above, then you can see how I’ve angled the shot so the sun is coming in from one corner, and lighting up the girls’ hair. I always prefer back-lighting, as it creates a wonderful, soft, dreamy feel and embrace the warmth of the summer.

So when you go out and try this yourself, try to copy what I’ve done — place your models with their backs to the sun, and position yourself so the sun comes in from one corner.

How much sun you let in is up to you and the light you have — try angling the camera so you let a lot of light in, and then if you see the photograph is washed out by the sun, try angling the camera so there is less light coming in.

It’s a juggle between too much, and too little. But if you try my favourite technique of “too much”, and then “too little” you’ll find the happy medium.

My 3 Favourite Tips for Golden Hour Portraits this Summer

Tip #3 – Feeling

This tip is nothing to do with the technicality of your DSLR, or what other equipment you need… but something we’re renowned for. “The feeling” in our photographs. The photographs aren’t supposed to look like photographs. But rather moments, and feelings we all have, or wish for.

When you take golden hour portraits, these sorts of portraits should feel carefree, thoughtful, happy, joyful etc. but mostly, natural.

Ask your model to just pretend she / he is on their own; laugh, be playful, enjoy the warmth of the sun etc. Your goal is to try and capture the fleeting moments, whilst getting the light balanced, and focus.

It’s not an easy balancing act – but with a few trials, you’ll get it and find it easy. Just practice, and you’ll get it.

One last tip — wear clothes which will enhance the warmth vibe of the light. Such as light and pastel colours – try to ditch the dark, contrasting colours as these can cause a distraction from the overall image, and feeling you’re trying to capture.

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– The Bell Sisters

About the author

Olivia L'Estrange-Bell

Olivia L'Estrange-Bell - English, 23yrs. Entrepreneur. Digital Products. Photographs for License. Fund Raising

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