The Power of the Sunset

I’m sorry that I haven’t really posted much in this past week!  I have been fighting with the internet where I live and well… I am losing!  Soon I might be moving into an apartment with two good friends of mine who have FANTASTIC internet so we will see!  If that doesn’t work out… not sure what I’m going to do.  Maybe I’ll just be spending a LOT more time drinking hot chocolate at Starbucks (or maybe eating cheeseburgers off the dollar menu at McDonalds…).  BUT, either way I am finally getting another post out there and plan to start doing this daily once again!


Today I just want to talk about my style a little and tell why I have come to REALLY love sunrises and sunsets!  Primarily, I’ve found that while yes, cloudy days can yield some FANTASTICALLY even lighting, sunsets can do the same while also providing a really magical glow to your images!  To show an example of this, I’m going to use some shots I did from this past week with a really fun couple, Josh and Grace!


She’s studying animation and wants to become an animator at Pixar.  He’s studying to become a really religious police officer.  How could you find a better match in the world?!  But really, these two are adorable together!  It’s one of those really cute stories where they met when they first got to college and hit it off!  Two weeks later they were dating!  And you hear about these Freshman Flings all the time where couples will start SO fast and rarely work.  But this one is actually working!

Anyway though!  I am not here to talk about them, even though they are fantastic.  Sunsets and sunrises (for the remainder of this blog I will just call them “sun’s”.  Very fun little companions in my photography.  Here are just a few reasons while I love sun’s so much!


1. They automatically give you warm colors!  Yes, some couples are very serious and don’t really like to take smiling pictures where they are laughing at each other and being silly.  But the average couple WANTS other people to think of them as a happy, fun to be around couple.  So, the photographer’s job is to do everything he/she can to take photos that show that. Using the natural warm colors from the sun to create this is just one extra little thing to help this along the way!


2. There are a lot of affects you can do with the sun that you definitely cannot do without it!  Example:


This photo was taken from a SLIGHT upward angle to capture the sun in the top right but still have the couple remain the focus of the image.  (Again though, warm colors)  I positioned the sun so that it would blow out the top right corner, creating the opportunity for an immense amount of contrast.  Or here’s another example:


I guess you COULD create this same affect with a flash and that could be really cool!  But why not do it with the very BRIGHT, WARM, NATURAL light of the sun?  You get a lot more contrast and if you shoot on the shaded side where you are pointing your camera towards the sun, you get very even tones.  And on that note!


3. You can get very even tones even during sun’s.  It’s a common misconception that if you have direct sunlight, you have flat, ugly pictures.  You just have to know how to use it!


It is no accident that Josh is sitting in the shadow of the tree and not out in the open.  I wanted to have much more even lighting here because I wanted to be able to #1 created variety in the pictures and #2, I wanted to fully be able to see their expressions because I TOLD Josh, “Make the face like someone was dropping pinecones on your head and there was NOTHING you could do about it.”  Apparently this is the face he would make.  But if I’d blown it out, you wouldn’t have been able to see the detail.  But agin, this was taken probably an hour before the sun was completely gone.  So, the sun is  at it’s peak of aggressive tonality!  By using the shadow of the tree, I was able to use the warm light reflecting off the ground and tress around the subjects and I was also able to capitalize on the cool tones that come naturally when you shoot a shadow.


4. There’s just something exciting about racing against time.  Inevitably when you shoot sunsets, you (the photo person) have the remember that you are not in control of everything.  You control your lens, you camera, and to some degree your subject.  But, you do not control time or the sun.  Those two things pretty much (outside of the direct intervention of God) do whatever they want.  So, when you are doing a shoot with a sunset, you have to get as many pictures in as quick a time as possible!!!  Why is this good news?  Because if you open by telling your couple this, it adds urgency and shows that you have thought this thing through!  When I tell a couple that we have limited time and so I want to get things going, they appreciate I’m not wasting their time and they are more inclined to work with me.  When I tell a couple that I my goal is to get around 1,000 photos taken in two hours, they are impressed and then because I’m working on a time crunch, when I do it, they are amazed!  And at the end of a shoot, I want my clients to be amazed by how I worked.


So that’s my four main current pro’s for the sun’s.  They are just magnificent!  Such warm, vibrant colors that allow for so much variety!  If you want to shoot in this way, just remember that you’re biggest weakness is getting nervous!  Yes, you are racing against time, but you are also a photographer!  OWN IT!  If you get nervous or freaked out, take a second to calm yourself down (Pretend you’re changing a setting on your camera!  What do they know?).  Sun’s are all about being creative and just practicing, practicing, practicing until you have it down to a science.  I’m still working on the science part, but I’m getting there.

And as always, I took pictures so by golly I’m proud enough of them to post a few more of my favorites!  Let me know if this helps at all!





I don’t even remember what we were doing but this is adorable!





Never try to take a girl’s pine cone.













I’ve never met two people who were so overwhelmingly comfortable with each other.


To God be the glory,

daniel jackson


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