Because I only offer up two basic times for portrait sessions, clients usually always ask which is better: sunrise or sunset?
Though the exact times vary throughout the year and also depends on whether or not we are in Daylight Savings Time, these are the two times of day I prefer to shoot–in the cooler light as the sun is nearing the horizon or in the warmer light as the sun is leaving our site for the day.
There isn’t a definitive answer to the question. It just basically boils down to which light do you prefer, and how early do you want to start getting ready?
Sunrise vs Sunset Sessions
Below are my pros and cons listed for each:
- Generally, it’s a warmer time of day in the winter months
- You can transition directly to a date night with your partner
- You get the full benefit of the luscious “golden hour”
- You usually see more dramatic skies with beautiful hues of pinks and oranges
- You have all day to worry and stress over your session
- In the summer months, it’s generally much hotter and you tend to sweat a lot
- You often have to contend with bugs and mosquitos
- People and locations are more active during this of day and there’s more opportunity to be photobombed
- You get your portraits completed first thing and you don’t have to stress out all day long
- You can’t plan a date night directly after, but you can plan an entire date day or go back to the office looking great!
- This could be a con for some couples/photographers, but I’m going to list it as a pro: sometimes there are water sources which are warmer than the morning air. In these instances, they give off a soft, sometimes dense, fog which, I think, is an amazing effect in the back/foreground of an image
- Less people/pedestrians in the background
- If you show up and begin prior to the sunrise time, you have incredibly soft light and get to experience the “blue hour”
- Not for people who don’t enjoy early mornings
- It’s colder in the winter months
- It some instances, you might have to wake as early as 3:30 a.m. for a hair and makeup appointment
- The light is not as warm and tends to have a cooler temperature (bluer tint) but can be overcome with off-camera flash and colored gels
- The grass is often dewy which leaves marks everywhere you walk and is impossible to sit down in the grass
And here are a few general tips:
- Depending on the time of year in a state that practices Daylight Savings Time (like Texas), some locations aren’t open at either sunrise and/or sunset
- Great light can be gone in an instant; it takes one uncooperative cloud to ruin everything
I do have a favorite, but I’ll never tell! Can you guess?
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I am San Antonio’s most unique wedding photographer. I specialize in a 10-day turnaround, same-day prints, same-day slideshows and Italian handcrafted wedding albums.
I am an internationally-awarded and WPPI-C certified professional wedding and senior photographer based in South Texas near San Antonio. I pride my business in offering a premier and personal service coupled with an unforgettable photography experience. I cater to clients who appreciate quality photography and help them to create family heirlooms that will last for generations. As a full-time professional photographer, my sole purpose is to provide amazing, memorable and full-service photography.
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journey and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.
When I’m not photographing a wedding, family or high school senior, I love to spend my spare time hiking, camping, cycling, reading, listening to Elvis and Prince. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents would be proud of!
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