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Thursday, 31 October 2013

10 Ways to Maximise Your Chances of Getting Sunset Wedding Photographs

Wedding Sunset Photography at The Langstone, Hayling Island, Hampshire
Wedding photographs taken at sunset are awesome and most couples are delighted if they can get them.

It's a sad fact that few couples have the opportunity to get them either because of the weather, or the timing or their choice of photographer.

This post give you things you can do to maximise your chances of getting sunset wedding photography.


1. Your choice of venue will of course partly determine your chances of getting a sunset on your wedding day. Work out where sun will set at your venue at the time of year you will be there (if you don't know how to do this, ask your photographer).

2. The lower the skyline is at that point, the greater chance there is of you getting a great sunset. For example, if there are tall trees close by in that direction, then the sun will set behind them and you may not get a very good sunset even if the weather is okay.

Wedding sunset photography at the Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst, New Forest, Hampshire
3. If there are tall trees a long way away in the direction that the sun will set, then chances are you may still get a good sunset shot.

Sunset reflecting on the mudflats at The Langstone, Hayling Island, Hampshire
4. The perfect situation is that you can actually see the horizon in the direction of sunset. It will be even better if there is some water between you and the setting sun to give reflections too.

5. When selecting a wedding photographer you need to make it known that you'd like some sunset photographs if you were lucky enough to have one. Not all photographers are geared up for all styles of sunset photography.

Bride and groom silhouetted against the setting sun at The Langstone, Hayling Island, Hampshire
Whilst almost any photographer should be able to silhouette you against a sunset sky, if you want to be lit nicely in front of an awesome sky then "natural light" photographers (as they sometimes call themselves) will not be able to help. You need big bright lights and know how to use them artistically in order to shoot you against a dramatic evening sky.

6. Determine the sundown time for your wedding date. If sunset photography is important to you, then you need to schedule that you can spend the half hour prior to sundown with your photographer.

This can be impossible at some weddings e.g. a 4pm ceremony in December is not going to finish until after sundown.


7. An hour before sunset, you want somebody (ideally your photographer) to be keeping an eye on the western sky to see if a sunset might develop. If it does look likely then that person should alert you to the possibility and you should be ready to be shooting for the last half hour before sunset.

After an overcast day, a crack appeared on the western horizon at sunset in the grounds of New Place, Hampshire

8. If the sky is overcast at sundown then there is nothing you can do but even so, don't give up. Quite often, when the day has been totally overcast all day, it can sometimes break the clouds near the western horizon just enough to make it still worth shooting.

9. Sunsets are a long time coming then gone in a flash. Get your photographer to plan where they will shoot you at sunset to make best use of the 20 minutes or so you will get. Maybe you can shoot at a few locations before the sun disappears.

You can shoot from a hotel balcony.

Sunset through the trees at Steeple Court Manor, Botley, Hampshire
You can shoot through a hole in the tree line.

10. Once the sun has completely gone, don't give up - the sky can still be full of gorgeous photographic opportunities.

New Forest, Hampshire
A full moon can be a rare and romantic backdrop to a night sky that has only just lost the sun.

Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
The sky has a beautiful graduation moments after the sun has set. This is a wonderful addition to any wedding album. The moment the sun went down on the couple's wedding day.

No amount of planning can guarantee that you'll get great sunset photographs at your wedding but planning ahead and choosing the right photographer can definitely increase your chances. Good luck.

by Steve Dunster