Golden Hour Pictures

{Hailey} Fun Senior Country Session | Elk River Senior Photographer

What a fun country-themed senior session this was in Elk River!

Hailey is a senior at Spectrum High School, and is a member of the Class of 2019. I should say “was”, as Spectrum has already had their commencement ceremony!  Hailey was on the Track and Field team for four years, and the Cross Country team for one. She describes herself as ambitious, strong-willed and dependable! 

high school senior having portraits taken at Houlton Conservation Area in Elk River, Minnesota.

Hailey wanted a natural look, and is not a big city girl, so she chose to go to a local farm/park and park reserve. We started at the Houlton Conservation Area in Elk River. This location is set on several acres on the Elk River and has a great old barn/out building on the property. It’s a great country location that many seniors choose. Hailey was also going for a very casual look and wanted to “just be myself.”  She chose a look for her makeup and hair similar to what she does every day just for that purpose!

teenage girl getting senior photos taken in Elk River, Minnesota park

What’s one piece of advice Hailey has for other seniors getting their pictures taken?

Don’t get stressed out about little things, they won’t matter as much as you think!

Hailey also advises to have everything planned out early in preparation for the session. Don’t wait until the last minute! I agree, Hailey!

black and white photos of a spectrum high school senior at houston conservation area in elk river, minnesota.

We then headed over to Bailey Point Nature Preserve just down the street. This park is my all time favorite park to shoot at. It is set right on the acreage where the Elk River runs into the Mississippi River. Lots of great options for back drops here. 

beautiful teenage girl having her senior portraits taken in elk river, minnesota

Hailey brought her track/XC spikes, team jersey and her letter jacket. She wanted to have her sports included in her pictures.

spectrum track teenager getting photos taken at Bailey Point Nature Preserve.

Her biggest fear about the session was that she would be awkward.

I’m definitely not a natural when it comes to this sort of thing. It was better than I thought it was going to be.

The sun was setting about that time, and the wildflowers were in bloom.  We were able to capture some beautiful golden hour photos! 

golden hour and wildflower senior photos taken of a girl in elk river, minnesota
golden hour sunset senior portraits taken of a girl at bailey point park reserve in elk river, minnesota.

Hailey’s overall senior photo experience?

Fun, it went by fast. I’m not someone that loves having pictures taken, but this wasn’t bad at all!

Hailey will be attending the College of St. Benedict in the fall. She is still exploring potential options for majors! I am sure whatever you choose, Hailey, you will excel!

Congratulations on your high school graduation!

Why I Shoot During "Golden Hour" | Senior Portraits in Minneapolis, Minnesoa

So you want to learn about golden hour, huh? It’s a pretty popular time of day for photographers to shoot. I'll tell you what it is and why I like to shoot at that time of day!  I have heard clients ask, "Can we shoot at 1:00pm?" While I will shoot mid-day as a last resort, it is not an ideal time. Most people don't understand why, and I thought I would shed some light on it (pun intended). 

Unless there is quite a bit of cloud cover or shady areas, shooting in the middle of the day under direct sun is difficult. Harsh shadows, squinting eyes and the bright sun is not my idea of a great photo.  Yes, it can be done, and has been. I use back lighting a lot and my reflector/diffuser, along with finding hidden shade. 

Here is an old photo that I shot in direct sunlight.

jasmine harsh sun

Jasmine's face is quite orange, she's squinting and she has such an uneven skin tone. This was one of my first senior sessions. Even back then, I knew this wasn't a look I was going for. Don't get me wrong, this session has always been one of my favorites, and there were plenty of great images.  But it just wasn't the ideal time of day.

I then moved to mid-mornings, which was a bit better.  The lighting was nice, but mid-morning seemed to give off a lot of harsh shadows and dark faces. I did a lot of post-processing in Lightroom. 

But then I discovered what all photographers rave about. "The Golden Hour".  This is the time just before sunrise or sunset. You may or may not have noticed that my first availability is always 1-2 hours before sunset. During this time, the lighting is absolutely perfect!  It is also shortly after sunrise; however, not everyone wants to wake up that early, especially soon-to-be seniors in high school!  

The perks of "Golden Hour":

  • You get yummy light flares and beautiful soft light.
  • There are no soft shadows or squinty eyes from the blinding sun at high noon.
  • In the summer, it cools off in the early evening, so you’re able to relax a little better knowing there isn’t sweat running down your face or making stains on your shirt.
  • During "Golden Hour", everything is warm and pretty and gives off a magical feeling.
  • We can also get some sweet silhouette shots as the sun is going down on the horizon.

Here are some of my favorite recent sessions that I have shot during this time. I think you can agree with me that nothing compares, and that "Golden Hour" never disappoints!

country-senior-pictures-st. michael-albertville

We can't forget the boys during Golden Hour!



Here are a couple from my latest session, that was just amazing!