You know that hour before dinner when you are fully immersed in the raising of young kids? For most parents, this is not, I repeat, this is NOT the Golden Hour. Nor is the first hour of the day…before coffee. Definitely NOT the Golden Hour…so I thought for some time at least. It’s not necessarily when you arrive at the soccer field for the first game of the season or the last school play of the year or even the kitchen table for a family meal. The Golden Hour isn’t about “where” at all. It’s about WHEN.
In photography, the Golden Hour most often is the first or last hour of sunlight in a new day. The light softens or becomes more brilliant. Details of the beauty you are capturing become even more spectacular. Photographers follow light in all they do. And the Golden Hour? Well, that’s the best of the best.
I have been catching the Golden Hour in the most unlikely places and during the most unlikely times lately and not as a novice photographer but instead, as a mother.
I caught this Golden Hour right before my eyes when the sincerest apologies was offered from one daughter to another. Our mini-van had a glow factor just for an instant. It would have been impossible to capture on camera.
I knew the Golden Hour had arrived when I watched my husband playing a game with our daughters to buy time for a delayed flight. “What color bag do you think will come out of the plane now? … Black, red, pink.. I was right!”, they all exclaimed. The sunset behind them was an Idaho special for sure, but the Golden Hour that evening was all about this interaction between the girls and their Dada. There was a radiance around them that was heart-warming. No photo could have captured it.
I saw a solar flash when I watched one of our daughters teaching another how to skip rocks alongside the shore of Lake McDonald. It was the Golden Hour indeed; late evening, a beautiful, warm breeze and sounds of a steel guitar playing in the background. All these augmented what already existed. The Golden Hour was enjoying watching our third born, hold her little sisters’ arm at just the right angle to help her learn the skill of skipping rocks.
When our daughters’ laughter fills every particle of space in our little home because they are enamored and entertained by one another, this is the Golden Hour. I can see fairy dust bursts rise from their joyful sounds and not even slow-motion setting on the best of any camera could grab what this looks like.
I don’t always catch the Golden Hour. My motherly intuition senses when it is coming, but because I am human, and stock-full of earthly characteristics; distractions can get the best of me and I miss it. And there is no greater regret for me than not fully soaking in the Golden Hour when I could have.
The Golden Hour doesn’t only happen outside of us. It happens within us. It’s when we rise to the occasion and forgive and move on. It’s when we elevate what gifts we have to support and help others. It’s when we take a soothing breath, and remain in check to nurture our children or ourselves. It’s when our eyes are opened to the profound connections to all things, and we embrace this with love.
Because the Golden Hour is built of light. That’s it. Absolute, brilliant, informative, guiding light. If I catch fairy dust bursts while making dinner and helping with homework and dealing with a myriad of meltdowns, I hold them closely. And when I sense solar flashes of sweetness upon rising, and pre-coffee, I do my best to lift my eye lids up so I can see them brightly too. And if the eye lids are unwilling, then at least my heart can be awakened.
I don’t worry about “where” anymore, I have become a seeker of “when”. Because when the Golden Hour is upon me, there is so much to capture and an abundance of blessings my heart can absorb. As a novice photographer, writer and mother; I have become a seeker of light. ✨
A few months ago, I was moved by this beautiful song. “I Am Light,” by India Arie. This, we are. Each and every one of us.
About this image… 📷
While visiting Yellowstone, I was determined to see the Grand Prismatic Spring, a bucket list place of mine for quite a while. With a crowd factor in the park equivalent to Disneyland on the first day of Summer, we arrived at 3:30 in the afternoon. It wasn’t the Golden Hour at all. The light was overbearing and with hoards of people, I became agitated that I had waited to see this for years and here I was stuck, literally bison-herding my way on the platform to see the sulfuric magic. There was so much steam my lens kept fogging up. And while I was cleaning my lens, I watched one too many selfies happening around me. Blah. Not what I had imagined at all.
I found a small spot on the platform to peek at this mystical color pot and plopped down. I could hardly see anything. Steam, crowds, bright light, noise. And then a storm cloud arrived, landing itself right over me. The crowds dispersed worrying unnecessarily about imminent rain. The steam lessened just enough to not be frantically lens-cleaning and the molten rock glistened with, “Look at me!” The depth of detail and the miracle of this 60-foot-deep, age-old pool, shone. And I realized here I am, right in the Golden Hour. Right now. Shoot. The result was this image.