One of the best times to photograph during the day is that hour before sunset. There isn’t a photographer on the planet that does not like to shoot at that time, and it should actually be their favourite time of day to shoot…it certainly is mine, and always has been.
It’s called the golden hour for a reason! With the sun nice and low in the sky, you get long shadows with beautiful soft glowing light. Everything looks pretty amazing! It gives your images that signature look and feel, that you can’t replicate during the middle of the day because of harsh shadows from the sun being too high in the sky!
However, it naturally takes a little planning to get these sunset images!Timing!
Your photographer will know the time the sun sets, and this naturally determines when is best to get these sunset or pre-sunset photographs. For me personally, I do prefer the hour before actual sunset as it gives you time to get nice relaxed portraits in various locations. When the sun is actually close to the horizon, it sinks fast, meaning you only have time to get a few shots, quickly!
With images in and around an hour before sunset, they have a nice glowing soft light, usually without the sun actually in it. They are more normal, but with a beautiful feeling. Now images with the sun almost set are different! Just look above and below and you’ll see the difference! They are really orangy (is that a word!) with flare and are pretty dramatic! If given the chance to shoot in this light, I’m all for it but I do prefer the hour before – you see photographers really are never happy with the light!!!!
In summer, in Ireland, the sun will set pretty late. If you really want sunset shots, you may have leave the dining room during the meal at some point – I did for my own wedding, I looked out the window, seen the nice light, and said to my photographer, lets go! We got our shots, and got back in for dessert! Yes, that is me in the image below with my wife, and our photographer Elliot Patching did a great job with the sunset!
In winter it’s a little easier in that the sun sets pretty early so most of the time from November through to February you can get sunset shots before you sit down for the meal. But planning is still necessary!
This is a big one…one that will definitely determine how good your sunset images are and also when you should take them! If you are having your reception in a location with trees and possibly mountains in the area or even a few miles away, guess what, the sun is going to disappear behind them well before it actually sets! Your photographer needs to have checked this out and also where the sun sets. I know from experience somewhere like Markree Castle gets the sun blocked well before actual sunset by mountains and trees…so if you go by when the sun actually sets, you’ll miss the epic light!
Now if the location of your reception is at the coast or by a lake, there’s a lot more flexibility and you may even get the sun setting right on the horizon…that’s the best situation as it gives so many more options for sunset shots and that magic hour before! And really, there is no better place to watch the sun set than on the beach!
Although kind of tied into your location, your photographer should know what to look for. I love trees and leaves as the sun has to shine through them and they get lit up beautifully. Long grass works too as does the coastal grasses you get near the beach and sand dunes…they’re actually my favourite, and living in Strandhill where we get amazing sunsets, is great because I do get to do engagement shoots quite a bit around sunset!
An especially amazing time near sunset is always autumn when the trees have turned yellow and red. With some gorgeous sunset light, the trees turn even more stunning.
Mountains are fantastic too. The image of Aisling and Kevin above, looking into the distance at Lough Eske and the hills of Donegal is one of my favourite sunset images. They drove me up to this location in the snow just before sunset and we raced to get this shot before the light disappeared!
If you end up at a location that doesn’t really have any background that’s amazing, again your photographer should know what to do, and sometimes that will be a nice silhouette. A bride and groom with a dramatic cloudy sky lit up by the sunset or even a clear crisp cold pinky orange sky works beautifully.Communication!
Again coming back to spring, summer weddings where if you really want sunset photos you will probably have to leave the dining room at some point, always chat to your photographer first. I certainly wouldn’t come into the dining room and have you leave for pictures unless we had gone through that first and you definitely let me know if the sunset looks good to come and get you! I’d also mention this to the hotel wedding coordinator so that there is a short break between some of the courses to let you get outside to get what pictures you want! You just want everyone on the same page!Engagement Shoots!
EShoots are definitely the best time to try to get sunset shots and actually the whole hour before sunset! At a wedding I don’t have the full golden hour to get photographs, as I want you at your wedding, so things have to be done quickly. Your engagement shoot is different though and is best started around an hour before sunset giving us the full golden hour to get loads, then get the actual sunset shots and depending on how the sky is lit up after sunset, we may even still be able to shoot!
In Ireland you never know what the weather is going to do, so there may not be a nice sunset on your wedding day, but we can schedule and sometimes reschedule an engagement shoot to take advantage of the sun and light! I live right by the sea and beach so have pretty amazing locations right at hand when it comes to sunset engagement shoots! As always communication is key and if I’m your photographer, you just have to let me know your priorities and if sunset shots are, I’m going to love it too!