GOLDEN HOUR—chances are you’ve heard of it or seen it on your social media feed or on the picture frames that were on sale in your local mall. Golden hour, also called magic hour, refers to the hour before sunset or sunrise when the sun’s rays are diffused, creating soft, warm lighting. It’s these traits that make it look so good, along with the fact that its light is directional.

On the other hand, golden hour photography refers to photography that utilizes the lighting produced by the golden hour. Golden hour’s lighting is used for all kinds of photography, from portraits to landscapes and even selfies.

The best part about it is you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take “Instagramable” golden hour photographs. You also don’t need a fancy camera, meaning you can achieve this just using your phone. Essentially, this is a  wallet- friendly way to take beautiful photographs.

However, unfortunately, taking photos during golden hour isn’t as simple as it seems. You may find yourself taking pictures and not getting the results you imagined. It requires practice, patience, skill, and planning.

With that said, if you wish to get better at taking photographs, here are some golden hour tips to help you achieve that:

  1. Use Applications

Another aspect photographers love about the golden hour is that photographs are enhanced digitally in post-production. Post-production also refers to the editing process after you’ve already captured or created the main content.

In the editing process, you can clean up the image by removing unwanted objects, improving the brightness, increasing or decreasing either or both contrast and saturation, and more.

Fortunately, with the rise of improved mobile phone cameras also came a never-ending development of mobile and computer software applications for editing images. So, if you’ve taken some photos already and feel that they could be better, it’s worth considering trying out an application or two for enhancing your images.

To add, it’s worth noting that golden hour doesn’t occur at the same time every day. It is why professionals and amateur hobbyists prefer to use mobile applications or information from the internet to know the golden hour for the day.

  1. Learn How to Control Your Camera

As mentioned, it isn’t necessary to purchase a fancy camera to capture good golden hour photographs. By learning how to maximize the capabilities of whatever camera you have in hand right now, you’ll see that you don’t need to hurt your bank account to capture great photos.

You can start learning how to use your camera’s manual settings to achieve this. So, if you’re using a phone, this is also possible with some phones having built-in settings while others you can download camera apps with manual settings.

These manual settings essentially allow you to control the aperture, ISO, and a shutter speed of your phone/camera.

As a bonus, you should also consider shooting in RAW format. Usually, images captured by cameras and phones have a jpg or HEIC (Apple) format. By shooting in RAW, you’ll be able to tweak your pictures a little more, and it will also retain more details. To do this, you’ll have to go to your camera’s settings and change the file format there. Unfortunately, phones may not have this option.

  1. Plan Your Shoot

Since it will only last an hour, it’s essential to plan your shoots ahead of time to avoid getting pressured by the time constraint while shooting. After all, it’s hard to focus and be creative when you’re stressed.

To achieve this, you can begin by scouting the location. Since the sunset will be on a specific side, make sure that it will hit your subject when you shoot. Additionally, it would help to imagine what kind of images you want to create from the shoot. For example, will you be using props? If so, you’ll probably want to bring and set them up in advance.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Just like with any skill, taking good golden hour photographs takes practice. So, don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time around. Especially given the time constraint, you might not be able to try out all the angles  you had initially planned. Additionally, when you’re just starting with shooting in manual mode, it will take a lot of trial and error.


Golden hour photography truly is magical and beautiful. You’re also not alone if you want to capture photos using its soft, warm, directional lighting. Whether you wish to capture memories or  take beautiful golden hour photographs as a beginner photographer, it’s achievable if you do it the right way. Plus, it’s also really worth it and will make a great addition to your image gallery or social media feed.

You may have been taking golden hour photographs already in the past but wish to get better. Hopefully, the tips above have given you further insight into improving your golden hour photography.