It is no secret that the right light is what makes a good picture great!
When working with natural light (especially for beach photography), the best time to shoot is during the so-called “golden hour“, which is the 45-ish minute window of warm and soft coppery light that occurs twice a day – once at daybreak and then again in the hour before sunset.
To take advantage of either one of those magical lighting conditions, I only offer 2 photo sessions a day – Sunrise or Sunset. It isn’t that I can’t do a session at other times of day, it’s just that I know that the light at other times is harsh and unflattering and I want to make sure that you look your best and receive a gallery of gorgeous images that look like the work you see on my Website or Instagram.
Most people that visit Grand Cayman get the idea of a photoshoot around sunset, but not many know about the option for a sunrise photoshoot, which is why I have decided to dedicate this blog post to explore some pros and cons of both options.
Sunrise photo sessions are pretty amazing. There is simply something special about waking up before dawn – before everyone else – and getting to watch the sunrise. The world seems so still and calm; the air smells fresh and the colours are clear and beautiful.
- WAY less people! Especially during high season in the Cayman Islands (e.g. Thanksgiving and Christmas), the beaches are packed at sunset and it gets more tricky finding more secluded spots.
- At sunrise you can expect calm waters and softer pastel colours and if the clouds are right even some cotton candy skies. Towards the end of your session, as the sun rises you do also get the warmer colours, similar to sunset.
- Your sessions is done first thing in the morning so you get to enjoy the rest of your day without stressing about an evening photo shoot. Plus, you will feel super energised for the rest of the day.
- If you have young kids or babies you may very well be up before dawn anyways. Plus, young kids are generally way more happy and cooperative in the early morning hours rather than sunset, especially if their bed times falls around that time.
- If you are coming from Europe and are looking to book a shoot at the beginning of your visit, sunrise may be perfect as you adjust to the time change.
- You’re going to have to get up early! In the summer months, we’re talking a 5:30am start time. In the winter months, it’s a bit more reasonable at 6.30am. And… you can’t be late as the time frame is short as the sun gets harsh quickly.
- Locations are a little more limited. Because the location from where the sun rises, there are not as many places to chose from as at sunset. However, all the beach location options are absolutely stunning and you can expect to have them to yourself!
- If you’re having professional hair and makeup done you may have trouble scheduling a stylist early enough (although I have stylists who go to my clients’ homes to prep for sunrise sessions!
- Know when sunrise actually is: One of the MOST important things about a sunrise session is knowing when sunrise actually is at your location (For Grand Cayman you can check it here). Once you know what time your sunrise will be, I would make sure to start shooting BEFORE the actual sunrise as we want to capture that magical soft pastel light just before the sunrises over the horizon. So when you a book a sunrise session, I will ask to be there about 20mins before sunrise to make sure we capture those magical tones.
- Don’t be late: Because the sun in Grand Cayman gets harsh very quickly, it means that we don’t have more than 45-60mins of time to shoot before the light becomes unflattering… which is why it is key that the session starts on time.
- If you are truly not a morning person, or there is no way you will get your teenage kids out of bed that early and put a smile on, rather consider a sunset session!
I don’t think that a photo session during sunset over the Caribbean ocean needs much of an introduction, so I will get right into it:
- At sunset there is beautiful golden light everywhere! The sunsets in Grand Cayman are world famous as the sun sets directly over the water, filling your session with gorgeous golden light over the beautiful Caribbean ocean.
- The skies are at their most dramatic at sunset. Where sunrises are usually a soft pastel blue sky, at sunset the skies are warmer and more golden and the right set of clouds may just get you some dramatics effects and colours.
- There are more location options at sunset as more of the beaches are in direct view of the sunset than the sunrise.
- In the summer months, sunset is late in the evening. If your shoot involves little kids, whose bedtime is before sunset, you may want to consider a sunrise session. Alternatively, I recommend a nice long nap in the afternoon and back-up snacks to avoid melt-downs.
- Beaches are very popular and much busier at the end of the day. I’m used to navigating the crowds or finding some secret spots that are quieter, but be prepared that a there will be more people around, especially during high season!
- Particularly during high season, my diary books up really quickly, so if you are booking last minute I often do not have any more sunset sessions available, but will happily offer a sunrise session instead.
- The weather is more predictable towards the end of the day. Obviously you will rely on your weather app for this but they are not always the most accurate here in Cayman, where the weather can change every 10 minutes. You will however have a better gut feeling about how the conditions will turnout to be at sunset. For example, by looking at the clouds an hour or two before sunset, you may be able to predict is it will get cloudier or rain and you can reschedule sessions if need be.
Below you can see some examples of Sunrise vs. Sunset beach photography here in Grand Cayman and I bet, if you didn’t know, it would probably be hard to tell which one is which! I have specifically chosen the same location and even the same people so you can compare “like for like”.
Sunrise at Surfer’s Beach
Sunset at Surfer’s Beach Sunset