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Bride and groom smiling and looking at the camera on the beach Seacrest Beach Hotel

Sunset Portraits | What to Expect Cape Cod Wedding Photographer

If you’ve found my website, it’s no surprise that I’m in the midst of a serious affair with cotton candy skies. After spending the last 5 years perfecting my own photos, I’m here to share all about sunset portraits and what to expect when you request them for your wedding or engagement session.

My most important piece of advice might surprise you, but here goes nothing:

Bride and groom hugging and kissing in front of the sunset

When taking sunset portraits, you need to embrace reality.

Trust me, I know that when it’s your wedding day, or even your engagement session, you’re hoping for the prettiest sunset like, ever. It should be the sunset to rule all sunsets. The sunset that would win a gold medal at the Olympics.

But, unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

I’ve shown up to the beach before and been greeted with mist and overcast skies. Womp womp womp.

While I wish I could special order the most epic sunset for each and every one of my clients, I am no weather wizard. Sorry to surprise you, hah!

The factors of real life do restrain us mere mortals. Unfortunately I can’t reschedule portraits when it isn’t raining, even if a sunset won’t be as gorgeous as we hoped. And I’m sure you can’t, either. When you’re getting hair and makeup done, potentially rearranging your work schedule, and inviting someone else to help wrangle your dog, there are so many moving parts. 

So if it’s not pouring outside, we proceed. 

When it comes to sunset portraits, you’d be surprised how much color my camera can pick up! So even the faintest sunset looks gorgeous in your final images.

And, even if it’s a truly gray day, your session will still be gorgeous. 

While I always want everyone to be just as excited as I am about sunset portraits, it’s important to go into them with an open mind.

Bride and groom holding hands and running towards the sunset on the beach

When taking sunset portraits, expect them to be fast paced.

Read: fast, not: stressful.

The gorgeous hues of pinks, purples, and blues really don’t hang out all that long. So when the sky is just right, don’t be surprised when I have more energy than a unicorn that chugged a Red Bull. This is the stuff that sets my creative heart on fire, so I get pretty hyped up about my sunset portraits!

Normally the sunset peaks towards the end of an engagement session, so you’ll already be nice and warmed up. And, if you’re doing sunset portraits on your wedding day, you’ve already been in picture mode earlier, so you’ll be prepared. 

But we will quickly transition between movements and poses to make the most of the magical light when we can.

Almost all of my clients love this time! They can see my excitement, so they feel excited, too. Plus, the sky is just so fun to look at. And when you’re twirling, dipping, or getting your veil all fluffed out with the one you love, it’s hard to not have a great time!

Man hugging and kissing a woman at the beach

How long before sunset should sunset portraits be?

This is a great question!

For an engagement session, I always recommend starting an hour before sunset so that we are well into the sweet spot where you’re feeling super comfortable for when the lighting is absolutely perfect.

For sunset portraits on a wedding day, I only pull couples for 10-15 minutes right when the lighting looks perfect, usually somewhere 20-30 minutes before the sun truly disappears. Since I’m asking you to step away from the reception, I want to be respectful of your time. 

The portraits are so fun and will be cherished, but I also know that the same is true of the beautiful reception you’ve planned. So we hustle, use the best light, and then get you right back to dancing.

Sunset portraits are my absolute favorite ones to do. In fact, 99% of my portrait sessions are scheduled to hit sunset, every time. With a little planning and an open mind, you’ll have a fantastic time making magic happen with me!

If you don’t already have a sunset portrait session planned with me, you can inquire about my availability by clicking here!

Until next time,


Need more photography advice? I’m your girl! Click below to keep learning!

February Musings

How to prepare for a Cape Cod Beach engagement session

Want to see some of my recent work? Check it out below:

Sarah and Dan’s central MA elopement

Courtney and Schuyler’s Boston Seaport engagement

Ashley and JJ’s The Coonamessett wedding