If you’ve been brushing up on your photography knowledge, you might have come across the term “the golden hour”. But what is this mysterious hour, and why is it significant for photographers? Travel photographer Kimberley Coole explains for us:

“The golden hour, which is sometimes known as magic hour, is the first and last hour of sunlight during the day, when a specific photographic effect is achieved due to the quality of the light. Because the contrast is heavily reduced during this time the shadows are less dark and the highlights are less likely to be overexposed, plus the warm colour of the low sun is often considered desirable to enhance the colours of the scene, adding vibrancy to your images.”

Quite simply, the golden hour is one of the best times to take fantastic photographs, especially when you’re on your travels. Wherever you are in the world, here are our top tips for making the most of that precious 60 minutes.

Sunrise over fields

It’s Not Always an Hour

First things first, you might not even have a whole hour! It can be significantly less depending on where you are and the time of year, which is why it’s important to plan ahead to maximise this photo opportunity.

Check Your Timings

Find out when sunrise or sunset will fall to make sure you don’t miss it. A cloudy horizon will mean the golden hour is cut short, so watch out for the weather too.

Sunrise reflected on building

Get There Early

Scope out the perfect place to take your pictures ahead of time, and arrive there early to set up your camera (and secure a good place to stand if it’s a tourist hotspot).

Snap Some Silhouettes

The golden hour is the perfect time to capture a silhouette on camera, so position your subject in front of the light source for a dramatic effect.

Sunrise in Venice

Keep Shooting

The light changes quickly during the golden hour, and so will the scene you’re shooting. Stay put for the whole hour and keep snapping away to get a great selection of beautiful sunrise or sunset shots.

Don’t Forget Coffee!

An early morning start to catch the sunrise can be painful, especially if you’ve overindulged the night before. Grab a coffee to go before you head to your location and you’ll be all set!

For more tips on making the most of this magic hour, check out our guide to taking spectacular sunset snaps.