Updated: May 26
If you shoot outdoors, however informally and whatever your subjects, plan for Golden Hours and edit your photos when the light's adversarial.
There's a time and a place for everything. A photographer should make it a point to shoot in the best available light, which typically is during Golden Hour. Experienced photographers will know that this does't always hold true for some locations, which may be completely obscured during Golden Hour and may only be lit during certain times of the day or year.
It's not talked about often and it may sound like an obvious thing to do, but you should never be editing your images during Golden Hour or whenever your locations happen to be perfectly lit. Whenever your schedule allows, you should only be shooting during these times and leaving the editing for later in the day/evening or for the next day or later in the week. Always reserve those most opportune times for photography.
Good light is so important to photographers and to myself, that I find myself writing about it often, and with some of the topics inadvertently overlapping (and this sometimes happens when you're publishing a blog everyday!). Below are a couple obvious post titles that come to mind. See my two prior posts on light here: Shooting The Genre Of Light
Both prior posts are relevant to the header image of the piece of plastic I shot on the beach. Because if you're shooting light as a genre, however cheesy that may sound, you're going to feel compelled - you should feel compelled! - to photograph whatever the light dictates. My main genre is environmental portraiture, and this image has very little to do with it - there's nobody in the shot! But because I saw this shining beautiful object at sunset, which which hues reminded me of the glowing carnelian agates I used to collect on the Oregon Coast, I couldn't resist.
Also, I was on time to the locale, which made the image possible. The light wouldn't have been the same had the sun been at a different angle at any other time. In fact, I would have only gotten this particular shot and the lighting effect at sunset, with about 15-20 minutes before the sun vanished behind the clouds sitting above the horizon.
Furthermore, I mention to some of my clients and friends who are new to photography not to waste time chimping their images and doing other activities when the sun is busy rising or setting. One literally has only minutes before the best light vanishes for another 12 hours. Cameras should be out, fingers should be tapping the shutter button. Everything else can wait.