How to Take Beautiful, Backlit Portraits at Golden Hour

Golden hour is the holiest of times for photographers of many genres, however, it takes some technical understanding if you want to get the most out of it in your portraiture. In this video, Irene Rudnyk takes you behind-the-scenes of her beach portraiture shoot at golden hour to give you some tips.

When I first started photography and tried portraiture for the first time, I loved shooting at around sunset or sunrise. All these years later and that hasn't changed at all. Few things can beat the feel of beautiful natural light, and if you get a day that just offers fantastic warm rays, you must make the most of it, particularly in a country like mine where it's not all that common!

Although this shoot by Rudnyk is natural light and without the use of any tools other than a camera and lens, one of my favorite setups in these conditions is to use the golden side of a large reflector. If I'm backlighting the subject with the low-angle sun, I like to aid the dynamic range a little by bouncing warm light back to the subject's face. This aids in a balanced exposure — which can be easily done in post with modern raw files, as Rudnyk does — but also makes the model's eyes pop a bit more.

This video is great for some tips on how to shoot backlit portraits when the sun is low, but beware, Rudnyk is so close to the sea for some of this video you will tense your entire body!

Rob Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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