Ottawa, the bustling capital of Canada, offers a plethora of stunning locations for portrait photography. And when it comes to capturing the most magical and captivating portraits, there's no better time than during the golden hour. The golden hour, that magical time shortly after sunrise or just before sunset, bathes the city in a warm and soft light, casting a mesmerizing glow on everything it touches. In this blog post, we will explore some of the best locations in Ottawa to capture breathtaking portraits during the golden hour, and provide tips for making the most of this enchanting time of day.

Gatineau Park

Nestled just across the river from Ottawa, Gatineau Park is a photographer's paradise. With its lush greenery, picturesque lakes, and rolling hills, this park offers a stunning backdrop for golden hour portraits. As the sun begins to set, the warm light filters through the trees, creating a magical and dreamy atmosphere. Explore locations like Pink Lake, Champlain Lookout, or the Mackenzie King Estate for diverse and captivating settings that will add depth and character to your portraits.

Rideau Canal

Running through the heart of Ottawa, the Rideau Canal is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also a fantastic location for golden hour portraits. Early morning or late afternoon, as the sun dips lower in the sky, the canal’s calm waters reflect the beautiful hues of the golden hour light. Whether you choose to photograph near the historic locks, on one of the scenic bridges, or along the charming pathways, the tranquil ambiance combined with the magical light will result in captivating portraits.

Major's Hill Park

Located just steps away from Parliament Hill, Major’s Hill Park offers a panoramic view of the Ottawa River, the cityscape, and stunning sunsets during the golden hour. This beautifully landscaped park provides ample opportunities for capturing breathtaking portraits against the backdrop of the stunning scenery. Experiment with different angles and compositions to make the most of the warm, glowing light, and create portraits that exude elegance and serenity.

ByWard Market

Known for its bustling atmosphere, vibrant colors, and historic charm, the ByWard Market neighborhood in central Ottawa offers a unique and lively backdrop for golden hour portraits. This area is especially enchanting during the early morning golden hour when the streets are quiet, and the soft light casts a warm glow on the market stalls and historic buildings. Explore narrow alleys, capture candid moments with street performers, or find a cozy café to add character to your portraits while basking in the magical golden light.

Experimental Farm

If you're looking for a more rustic and natural atmosphere for your golden hour portraits, Ottawa's Experimental Farm is the perfect location. With its wide open fields and charming barns, this agricultural research facility offers a unique backdrop for capturing portraits during the golden hour. As the sun sets, the warm light bathes the farm's fields in a soft and golden glow, creating a serene and picturesque setting for capturing natural, wholesome portraits.

Tips for Golden Hour Portraits

To make the most of the golden hour for your portrait sessions in Ottawa, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Timing is crucial: Plan your shoot about an hour before sunset or right after sunrise to catch the golden hour at its best.
  2. Plan ahead: Scout your location beforehand and envision the shots you want to capture during the golden hour.
  3. Embrace the warm light: Position your subject in a way that allows the warm, soft light to accentuate their features and add depth to the images.
  4. Experiment with different angles and compositions: Use the unique lighting conditions during the golden hour to get creative with your portraits.
  5. Utilize reflectors or diffusers: Depending on the lighting conditions, consider using reflectors or diffusers to manipulate the light and create the desired effect.
  6. Be mindful of the changing light: As the sun sets or rises, the light will change rapidly, so be prepared to adjust your camera settings accordingly.


Ottawa's stunning scenery combined with the captivating light of the golden hour creates the perfect setting for breathtaking and magical portraits. Whether you choose to explore the picturesque landscapes of Gatineau Park, capture the tranquil beauty of the Rideau Canal, or embrace the historic charm of Major's Hill Park and ByWard Market, Ottawa offers endless possibilities for capturing stunning golden hour portraits. So, grab your camera, soak in the enchanting light, and let your creativity run wild as you capture portraits that truly evoke the magic and beauty of this captivating time of day.