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Golden Hour is a small window of time in the hour just before the sun rises or sets and is famous for giving off a soft light with a golden glow. The internet will tell you to avoid shooting at any other time of day, photography apps help predict the golden hour, and other photographers chase that golden hour aesthetic like there is a pot of gold at the end.

I’m not other photographers and I hate the golden hour. There, I said it! This is probably the most controversial opinion I hold as a photographer, but hear me out! When I first started photography, I spent too much time stressing out about being in the right place at the right time and it took the joy out of photography. Opening yourself up to other types of light brings a whole other world of creativity and individuality, so here are my top three reasons photographers should shoot all day long.

1. GOLDEN HOUR IS RESTRICTIVE

There is no such thing as poor light. Shooting in various lighting conditions challenges you to think more critically about how to place your subject to leverage the light you have. Experimenting with compositions and light outside your comfort zone helps you grow as a photographer; choosing to only shoot in one style of light hinders that growth. You can shoot in a style of photography best suited for the current lighting conditions, or you can adjust your composition to avoid unfavorable light.

2. IT DOESN'T CHALLENGE YOU TO IMPROVE

Rather than seeking the ideal conditions within your comfort zone; rise to the opportunity of meeting the demands of the environment. Unless you work in a studio the environment will be perfect; learn to work with the lighting you have and create beautiful images in spite of imperfections. 

Sun Rays Shining Through Dense Trees at Soco Falls

Composition In Hard Light

3. SOME PHOTOGRAPHY NEEDS HARSH LIGHT

The soft light of the golden hour is a subtle transition from light to dark. By contrast, the transition from light to dark in hard light is abrupt and definitive. Shooting in full sun has a poor reputation because of the shadows harsh light creates. While many photographers have demonized shadows, some types of photography appreciate and require the stark contrast between light and dark. If used correctly, high contrast light creates drama and dimension to a photo.

Examples of Photography That Embrace Hard Light

calm creek reflects large, white, boulders on the shore.

Reflective Surfaces

Reflections are the light bouncing off a surface, without light there is nothing to reflect.

Shadows Example

Shadows

Shadows can strengthen the focal point and add balance and contrast to an image.

Brandenburg Gate Silhouette Example 

Silhouettes

Silhouette photography exposes for the background, leaving only the outline of the subject visible.

Leaves and moss grow on an old tree in high contrast black and white during midday full sun.

Black & White

Black and white photography relies on the high contrast of light to create various tones of black, white, and gray.

I don’t bring up these points to say we should never shoot during the golden hour; that golden glow is quite enjoyable. It’s really the hype and dependency on the golden hour that I hate; there are 22 other hours in a day, why are we limiting ourselves to only 2? Shoot what you want, how you want, when you want, and learn to embrace what the scene gives you.

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Three Reasons To Hate Golden Hour Pin

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