Have you ever wondered how professional photographers capture those stunning, warm, and dreamy images that make you feel like you’re in a fairytale? The secret lies in the golden hour, also known as the magic hour. This magical time of day occurs twice a day, just after sunrise and just before sunset when the sun is low in the sky, casting a soft, golden light. In this article, we’ll share 10 valuable tips to help you make the most out of shooting during the golden hour for your travel photography.

1. Plan Your Shoot in Advance

Prior preparation is essential for a successful golden hour shoot. Research your location, check the local sunrise and sunset times, and scout for potential spots beforehand. Utilize photography apps like The Photographer’s Ephemeris or PhotoPills to determine the exact position of the sun during the golden hour. This will help you choose the ideal location and composition to create stunning images.

2. Arrive Early

Arriving early to your location will allow you to set up your equipment, compose your shots, and make any necessary adjustments before the golden hour begins. This way, you won’t miss a single precious moment of that magical light. Remember, the light can change quickly, so be prepared to move fast.

3. Capture Diverse Subjects

While landscape photography shines during the golden hour, don’t limit yourself to just landscapes. Experiment with different subjects such as cityscapes, portraits, wildlife, or even architectural details. The warm golden light can add a touch of magic to any subject, so be creative and try new things.

4. Use a Tripod

The golden hour often comes with lower light conditions, especially during sunrise when it’s still relatively dark. To ensure sharpness and avoid camera shake, using a tripod is crucial. It allows you to use longer shutter speeds while keeping your camera steady. Invest in a sturdy tripod to make the most out of your golden hour shoots.

5. Experiment with Silhouettes

One of the most captivating effects you can achieve during the golden hour is silhouettes. Use the soft light behind your subject to create powerful and dramatic shapes. Find interesting outlines and well-defined subjects to incorporate into your compositions. Silhouettes add a sense of mystery and intrigue to your photos, making them truly unforgettable.

6. Balance Exposure

The golden hour can present exposure challenges with the stark contrast between the brightly lit sky and the darker foreground. To achieve a well-balanced exposure, use exposure compensation, and focus on properly metering the scene. Additionally, shooting in RAW format will give you more flexibility to adjust the exposure and recover details in post-processing.

7. Include Foreground Interest

Adding a visually interesting foreground element to your composition helps create depth and enhances the overall impact of your photograph. Look for elements like flowers, rocks, leading lines, or reflections to include in your frame. These elements not only anchor your image but also draw the viewer’s eye into the photo, creating a more immersive experience.

8. Embrace the Atmosphere

The golden hour is not only about beautiful light but also about capturing the mood and atmosphere of a place. Pay attention to the color palette and the way the warm light interacts with the environment. Enhance the ethereal feeling by including elements like fog, mist, or haze in your shots. These atmospheric conditions can add a magical touch to your images.

9. Avoid Direct Sunlight on Subjects

While the golden hour light can be enchanting, it’s important to avoid direct sunlight on your subjects. Direct sunlight creates harsh shadows and can be unflattering. Instead, position your subject with the sun behind them or at a side angle for a beautiful, soft glow. Experiment with backlighting and rim lighting to add depth and dimension to your subjects.

10. Edit with Care

Post-processing plays a vital role in bringing out the full potential of your golden hour shots. However, it’s important to edit with care and maintain the authenticity of the scene. Enhance the warm tones, adjust the exposure, and bring out the details, but avoid overdoing it. Keep in mind the mood and atmosphere you experienced during the shoot, and aim to recreate that in your final edits.


The golden hour is a truly magical time for travel photography. By following these 10 tips, you’ll be able to make the most out of shooting during this enchanting period of the day. Plan your shoot in advance, arrive early, and be prepared to capture diverse subjects. Utilize a tripod, experiment with silhouettes, and balance exposure. Don’t forget to include foreground interest and embrace the atmosphere. Avoid direct sunlight on your subjects and edit your golden hour shots with care. With practice and creativity, you’ll be able to capture stunning images that transport viewers to a dream-like world.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your camera and get ready to chase the golden hour, as the magic awaits just around the corner!