sunset engagement photos in a field

Tips for Sunset or Golden Hour Photos on your Wedding

Capturing stunning sunset or golden hour photos can add a magical touch to your wedding album. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a photography enthusiast, taking breathtaking sunset photos requires planning and careful execution. Here are some essential tips to ensure you capture the best sunset moments on your special day.

Plan Ahead to Capture Stunning Sunsets

The biggest advice I can give is to plan ahead. The majority of the tips are going to revolve around this. If you want stunning photos during golden hour or sunsets, you have to plan ahead. It just doesn’t happen magically. Several things have to line up like location, timing, direction of the sun, and having a skill photographer. 

Sunset Bridal photo Cane Hill in Northwest Arkansas

Look for an Ideal Location

Not all locations are considered equal when it comes to sunset or golden hour photos. For your engagement shoot, you’ll have the freedom to pick your location, but it’s a little harder for your wedding day. In general, you’ll want to be out in the open and higher up. If you are in a forrest or if you are lower than everything around you, most of the sun is going to be blocked. The higher you are also makes it easier to have a really good view of the sky and surrounding landscape.

sunset photo of bride and groom in field

Sadly, this might not work for your wedding venue. There are a few things you can do. First, look at the surrounding area before you book a venue. The building is important but so is all the land around it. Now, if your venue has no good spots, consider traveling for a short part of the wedding day. Hopefully there is something within 10 minutes that you could use. 

Look up the Sunset Time for your Wedding Date

Having a great location is nice, but if you aren’t in position at the right time, you are going to miss your sunset wedding photos. As soon as you have your wedding date locked in, check the sunset timing. This is important to do early because you’ll want to set your ceremony and photos to fit into this. For example, if you aren’t doing a first look and sunset is at 6, you don’t want to do your ceremony at 5:30. Normally, I would schedule the ceremony for around 4 in that situation. The golden hour is the last hour before sunset, so line it up and get those beautiful photos. 

sunset engagement photo with kiss

Know the Sun’s Position

Another thing that will completely change your photos is the direction of the sun. Even if you have this location that is up high and has a beautiful scene, the direction of the sun might cause problems. In general, it’s best to have the sun coming from behind and at an angle. If the couple is facing the sun, the light will be blasting into their faces, which leads to squinting. Most likely you will be taking these photos at night, so you would want to be looking east with the sun setting behind you in the west. 

This again might be limited by your wedding venue. You might have the perfect spot but the sun is coming from the wrong direction. If you aren’t able to get to the location before to scout, one thing you can always do is look it up on Google maps to see where things are relative to the sun. 

Use flash to fill in the shadows

As I described above, you’ll want the sun behind the couple the majority of the time. This gets rid of all the squinting and creates a really lovely halo, but it can cause an issue with shadows. With the light comging from behind, the background will be lit up, but the couple’s front will not have that much light. That’s why I tend to use flash for my sunset photos when I’m wanting to show off the background. If it’s a tight shot, then you don’t need flash. Basically, the flash adds light to the front of the couple so it matches the background. It does require a little more work but it looks amazing. 

Keep it Natural with your poses

So now you’ve got all of this beautiful light and a beautiful background, but none of that matters if the couple looks awkward or uncomfortable. Emotions and expression trump everything. If the couple looks happy and in love, the background won’t matter. That’s why I always try to get people to relax and interact with each other. It takes their mind off of posing and you get real reactions from them. 

sunset engagement photos in a field

Sunsets Without The Sun

You’ve got the location, you planned for the direction of the sun, and for the time of day, but what do you do if it’s cloudy outside? Unfortunately, you can’t control the weather or the sun, but there are still things you can do to create a golden hour glow on a cloudy day. There are ways to fake the sun later in photoshop, but I’ve found it looks pretty fake. The best way I’ve scene is to add light to the photo. With a flash and a warmer gel put on it, you can mimic the light of the sun. Simply, put it in the direction the sun would be and fire away! 

Hire a photography with experience to get the best sunset photos

I know a lot of this sounds super confusing and a lot, but if you want sunset or golden hour photos for your engagement or wedding day, you need to look at all of this. The easiest way is to hire a photographer experienced in sunset photography to ensure you get the best sunset photos on your wedding day. An experienced photographer can help you with all of these questions and decisions because he or she has done it before. 

sunset-at-Barn-at-Hat-Creek

Conclusion

Capturing breathtaking sunset or golden hour photos on your wedding day requires careful planning, the right location, and the right time. By following these tips and working with an experienced photographer, you can ensure that your wedding album is adorned with mesmerizing sunset images that will be cherished for years to come.

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