Xpert Advice: Making the Most of the Golden Hour for Portraits


The Golden Hour–it’s when so many photographers take to the streets to photograph landscapes and portraits. The Golden Hour, also known as sunrise or sunset, is a pretty long period of time where the sun’s rays bathe the Earth in golden and orange hues. These tend to look great with skin tones, but making the most of it can be tough to do.

First off, we recommend not front lighting a portrait subject. This will cause the person to squint and generally create unflattering shadows on their face and under the chin. Instead, try backlighting your subject. Backlighting is when the key or primary light source is behind your subject. The process that we’re using blows out lots of details in the highlights and gives you beautiful colors that compliment skin well. This is best done by using your Fujifilm X-series camera in spot metering mode. For some cameras, you’ll need to go into the menus while others like the X-T1 have a dedicated switch/dial. Then manually choose a focusing point.

If you don’t feel like backlighting a subject, try to find shadow coverage under an awning, tree, building, or somewhere else. This gives you much more even lighting to work with. Again, you’ll be using spot metering and manually choosing a focusing point. The Golden Hour light will still make the skin glow and look wonderful.

With your Fujifilm camera, we recommend working with the Classic Chrome or Astia film renderings. For many years, Astia was a favorite of studio and portrait photographers for its softer colors but just enough contrast to give the images some extra pop. If you’re shooting in RAW, you can always apply the camera profile to the image later on in post.

So what lenses should you use? The Fujifilm 56mm f1.2, 60mm f2.4 Macro and 90mm f2 lenses all give you the best results. Be sure to check out our guide to Fujifilm’s lenses for even more.

Xpert Advice is a monthly collaboration between the Phoblographer and Fujifilm designed to teach you photography tips and tricks in a bite-sized package.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.