Right up there with buying a 50mm lens and the rule of thirds, probably one of the most thrown around recommendations in photography is photographing your subjects during golden hour. It is one of the most common times of day to see photographers out looking for images but it also comes with some interesting challenges that newer photographers may struggle with.
Manny Ortiz has a wonderful video up on his Youtube channel where he talks about his methods for getting the most out of golden hour utilizing just the natural light – so no speedlights or strobes. Ortiz describes how he approaches shots where he wants to use the sun as a direct light, but he also takes us to the other side of things and talks about using the sun as a backlight.
If you are just getting into photography or looking to up your natural light game during golden hour these are some good demonstrations of the techniques you need to familiarize yourself with.
Of course, once you master being able to operate in golden hour using only natural light you can start to incorporate things like speedlights and strobes to get different looks and expand your capabilities. But being able to work and still get great shots without those things comes down to being able to see the light and position yourself and your subject within that light to get your desired look.
If you are using strobes or speedlights as a crutch from the very beginning then learning those essentials will take longer and will not come as naturally. As well, in a situation where your lighting gear fails, you lack the skills to still create some great images for your subject. So we always recommend having these techniques down before moving on to lighting scenarios.
Interested in learning more? Check out some of our other great content about natural light and golden hour, or if you want to start looking into lighting we have some great content on using speedlights and strobes as well.