Summer's here, and that means longer days of gorgeous sunshine. So it's the perfect time to brush up on how to capture great sunset photos with your photographer at your wedding or engagement session.
The most important factor in achieving epic sunset photos is, of course, timing. You’ll want to start at least 30 minutes prior to the actual sunset time, when the sun dips below the horizon. If it’s a cloudy day, you may even want to start an hour before sunset, as the sun will tend to disappear earlier. You can find the sunset time for your wedding or engagement session date and location in most cell phone weather apps, and online at www.timeanddate.com .
If you want sunset photos at your wedding, this will involve some careful planning to make sure you’ve given yourself enough time in your schedule. At a minimum, your wedding ceremony should start 1.5 hours before sunset. This will give you 30 minutes for your ceremony, 5 minutes afterward to sign the license, and roughly 20 minutes for some family portraits. Then you’ll have a good 30 - 40 minutes of golden light to work with for those gorgeous sunset photos. Planning in advance is key, so that everyone--the wedding coordinator, DJ/MC, caterer, etc.--are all on the same page, and know when to start your reception and how to keep your guests occupied in the meantime.
To get a clear, unobstructed view of the sky at your wedding venue or portrait location, you may have to do a little walking. So bring some comfy shoes (flats or sneakers) that you can do a little offroading in. You can always change back into your dress shoes or heels once you get to the best spot for sunset pics.
It seems like taking sunset photos is pretty simple--just point and shoot. That might be okay for a dark silhouette of the two of you against a bright sky. But to get a truly exceptional sunset photo, your photographer will need to work a little lighting magic. This involves some off-camera flash, to light you up in relation to that colorful, glowing sky. Your photographer should be working with at least 2 off-camera flashes to set up a nice ratio of light, so that your photo has depth and the lighting has direction. They may even use a third or fourth flash to help brighten up part of the foreground closest to you--think trees, vegetation, etc.--so that your photo is truly dimensional and not flat.
State of Mind
It goes without saying that the happier your state of mind, the better your photos will turn out. Working with a photographer, especially if this is your first time getting professional photos, can require a bit of patience on your part as they change lenses, meter the light, set up flashes, and of course pose you. If this is your engagement session, take some time to reflect with your partner on how excited you are for your upcoming wedding! Forget that there is a camera following you, and remember that the point of all this is that you are with the most important, lovely person in your life. The moments your photographer captures of your natural expressions toward each other will be the images you’ll cherish over time. If this is your wedding, chances are that this is the first time you are alone together as newlyweds! So let the stress melt away and get cozy with each other while your guests are enjoying cocktail hour.
You’ve probably spent a lot of time on Pinterest curating a board of your favorite poses. So share your top 5 with your photographer. This will help them understand your unique personality and style. Also don’t forget to be open to posing guidance from your photographer. They have the experience to know which angles are the most flattering for your respective body types, and will help you get every detail--hands, clothes, hair--into the right place. Above all, know that some of the best “poses” actually happen when the two of you just relax and hang out together. So don’t be afraid to be yourself with your partner. Remember that your photographer wants you to look good too!
Be sure to check out our Pinterest board for even more sunset photo inspiration!