Planning for sunset photos can be tricky! When should you do them? What are the guests going to do during that time? Where should we go? All great questions!
Let's start with why it is worth it to do them. Most wedding photographers (including us!) feature their
sunset photos because they are some of the most stunning from the entire day. They are the ones you'll be most likely to print and frame and post on social media! It is where you get to show off your amazing wardrobe in a beautiful location.
Timing is everything. When allotting time for them, we recommend starting with the 'official' sunset time on your wedding day. Sunset time is one of the few things we don't have control over when planning, so it makes sense to plan around this time for your reception. Here is the best way to do it:
Google search ‘sunset time (your wedding date) (your wedding location) Example: Google ‘Sunset Time October 2nd, 2023 Santa Fe. For our example, 6:46pm happens to be the 'official' sunset time this day!
The official time is when the sun dips below the horizon, so we’ll need to begin photographing 40-60 minutes before this time. This is the Sunset photo session start time. Note: I will need to arrive at the sunset location about 10-15 minus before you to set up lighting!
Then, account for however long the drive is (don’t forget traffic!) from your reception to the sunset photos location. Add 5 minutes just in case. This tells you when we need to leave the reception for this. Google Maps is your friend for planning!
Don’t forget to account for the drive back to the reception so you know when we’ll be back there as well
Photographing before the official sunset time is when all the amazing lighting occurs! This is called the 'Golden Hour'. Lighting prior to this is direct overhead lighting...not the most flattering look. Shooting later
is too dark, it just isn't as pretty.
Let the guests mingle and have fun. If your wedding is in the summer months, your sunset time will be later. Consider sneaking away for Sunset Photos during the dancing! If your wedding is in late Fall/early Spring/Winter, then your sunset time will be earlier. Consider doing a cocktail hour or hors d'oeuvres while we're away.
Location, Location, Location. Our first question is always: Do you prefer something more urban, or mountainous? Do you want something southwestern, or something with a lot of greenery? Once you figure that out, we'll have a list of spots to suggest! Photos in front of your venue are fine, but are often not ideal as adjacent roads and cars tend to distract and are tough to avoid. In most cases, a short drive to another location is worth it for your photos!
Sunset Bonus Tip! Getting dramatic sunset shots in beautiful places often requires a little bit of walking. If wearing heels, bring a comfortable pair of shoes to change into, and change right back into the heels before we take the shot!
Sunset Bonus Tip #2 Bring a helper! A bridesmaid or best man will make it much easier to help carry any extra shoes and help you manage the dress if we have to walk a lot (or through dirt)