golden hour

The Photography "Golden Hour"

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gorgeous red orange sunset wedding photos

gorgeous red orange sunset wedding photos

What’s “golden hour” you ask? It’s the hour just before the sun sets under the horizon, also known as a photographer’s favorite time of day & type of light. I usually will look up the exact sunset time before any session or wedding so I can plan the start time and know how much light I will have to work with as we near the end of the session. When I meet with my wedding clients, I provide them with two versions of a sample timeline — both with and without a First Look or Reveal. (Watch for another blog post coming soon about wedding day timelines!) With input from the reception venue and DJ, I will often help the couple finalize their timeline leading up to the wedding day. I also send out a questionnaire to my couples about 1-2 weeks before the wedding, and one of the questions on it is “What time is sunset?”

sunset wedding day at Pear Tree Estate

sunset wedding day at Pear Tree Estate

sunset by the lake

sunset by the lake

wedding day sunset at Urbana Country Club

wedding day sunset at Urbana Country Club

One of my favorite things on a wedding day is to sneak the couple outside for 5-10 minutes just *after* sunset to maximize the color of the sky and get some gorgeous sunset photos, both with off-camera flash (also another blog post!) and as silhouettes. These techniques work best if there is a good view of the horizon, or access to a rooftop or parking garage. If you are a fan of my sunset photos though, and this is something you *know* you want on your wedding day, you’ll definitely want to take location, sunset time, and reception timeline into consideration as you plan.

classic winter sunset at iHotel wedding

classic winter sunset at iHotel wedding

deep sky sunset at Memorial Stadium Colonnades

deep sky sunset at Memorial Stadium Colonnades

Golden hour beautiful light at Pear Tree Estate

Golden hour beautiful light at Pear Tree Estate

You can use this link to calculate sunset (or sunrise!) times for any date in the future for any zip code. This can be useful for other events too! I find a lot of times that my fall/winter clients don’t always take the sunset time into account when they decide on the ceremony start time and whether or not to do a First Look. It’s easy to forget that it gets dark so early from November through March. For my December weddings, I usually just count on it getting dark at 4:30 to be safe. On the flip side, for my late June/early July weddings, I typically plan for it to be light out until almost 9pm!

Deep blue sunset skies at Orpheum Children's Museum

Deep blue sunset skies at Orpheum Children's Museum

storm clouds rolling in at sunset at Erin's Pavilion in Springfield

storm clouds rolling in at sunset at Erin's Pavilion in Springfield

To wrap things up, my advice to wedding couples is to set your date, book your venue, email Holly about your photography (!), and then check the sunset time for your date. :D Priorities!! Happy wedding planning!!

Jackie + Matt | Meadowbrook Park engagement + family photography session

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Jackie + Matt are looking forward to their November wedding at the newly renovated Urbana Country Club. When I met with them the night they booked their wedding photography with me, they asked if we could include their two kiddos as part of their engagement session. I of course said yes! What better time to get some family photos done? The boys didn't want to do too much interacting (they are boys after all!), but by the end they were actually asking to be IN the photos, and even hugged a few times! I can't wait for the wedding, and I'm so glad we did the engagement session just a couple months ahead of the wedding so that everyone got a sort of "trial run" in. Totally worth it! :) late summer family portrait session with navy blue clothing

Urbana Park District family photographer

Meadowbrook Park gardens engagement photos

family photo session with wooden wagon

walking engagement photos

boys lying in grass with nature family session

family portrait with long 200mm lens compression

Meadowbrook Park bridge at golden hour

sunlight filtering through the trees portraits

golden sun flare engagement photos with kids

Andrea + Wes | Old Hollywood engagement photos | Urbana

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This girl. We go back a few years. :) I was looking for a place to live and happened upon a Craigslist ad of a girl with a house looking for a roommate or two. And it was only about a mile straight down the street from where I currently lived! We hit it off immediately and I lived with her for close to two years in her cute little house. :) I even had my first "date" with my now husband in that cute little house! Fast forward a few years -- I've moved into my own first house, and Andrea meets Wes. Gosh, I think back on all the life changes we've both had since we first lived together and it's crazy to think about! New jobs, new business ventures, etc. Wes runs the Kona Ice trucks in Champaign plus works in real estate, and Andrea is from "Kari & Andrea" of Champaign Jewelers. :) I'm so happy that they're both doing what they love and building a great life together! Can't wait for their wedding at the end of September!!! Smith Memorial Hall UI Campus

elegant engagement portrait

navy Von Maur dress with window light

staircase photos with off-camera flash

romantic dressy engagement pictures

happy couple engagement

weeping willow sunset engagement pictures

beautiful golden hour engagement

sunlight streaming through trees and weeds