FINDING THE BEST LIGHT FOR PORTRAITS – Carlee Secor Photography Green Bay, WI Photographer

If you follow my work at all, you’ll see that I love to backlight almost all my images. I’m constantly looking and following the light to make sure my images have the prettiest golden sun possible. Now, note that this ONLY happens if its clear blue skies and there is actually a sunset, NONE of my images have “fake suns”, this is truly how it felt in the moment. I can’t always get the pretty sunset, but I strive for it.

I’m going to share a few tips on how to achieve this look:

1.Find a location you love and know. SO many times people wonder why they can’t achieve this look is because the location likely blocks all the beautiful golden light from coming through at all, or doesn’t block it enough.

2.Pay attention to where the sun sets, scout the location beforehand and make note of what time the sun is low enough. In June, the sun is setting directly in the west, where in October/Late September the sun is shifting slightly to the left.

3.Watch for the sun “spots” to hit the ground. Look on the grass and see where the sun is falling, if there are no trees in the background, this will not happen and you will have to wait closer to sunset to get the desired look. For example, this shot here was taken 10 minutes before sunset because there are no trees on the golf course. If the background would’ve had a lot of trees, I would’ve had to shoot their portraits earlier so the sun could fall through the trees.

This image below was shot directly after their ceremony at 4:45, the sunset wasn’t until 7:15, you can still get the “golden sun” look if you pay attention to how the trees/hills break the light.

In the image below, the sun was coming through the trees, so I was able to start an hour before sunset and still achieve the beautiful golden look. The trees separate the light for you, giving a much softer look. Always keep your subjects back directly to the sun, if you want that “halo” behind their head, this is how you get that. Again, if it isn’t working find a location with trees facing the south to separate the light.

FINDING THE BEST LIGHT FOR PORTRAITS - Carlee Secor Photography Green Bay, WI Photographer golden hour best light

If you look closely in the image above, you can see I have them standing directly in the “line of light” that is on the ground. Her hair has the golden “halo”.

Now here is an iPhone shot to better show where I have my clients sit/stand. If you look on the ground in the photo you can clearly see the sun is only hitting only one part of the grass. While the shot wouldn’t have been bad if I kept her in the shade, I wouldn’t have the pretty golden hour look. Now below is my finished image from that exact spot. Proof that your iPhone cant do it all 😉

Hope that helps you achieve the golden hour look you are looking for! Be sure to tag me if you gave it a try 🙂 If you are looking for more one on one coaching/mentoring on this topic I am launching my mentoring program tomorrow. Be on the lookout for more information. Happy learning!


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Hello! I am Carlee Secor, a photographer based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Take a peek around!

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