Should you choose a sunrise or sunset photoshoot in Asheville?


Decisions, decisions….sunrise or sunset?

Let’s talk about both!


Are you searching for an elopement package, so that you can get married near Asheville and have a mountain backdrop? Or perhaps you’re looking for a golden hour engagement, maternity or family photoshoot at a waterfall?

Now that you have an idea about location, let’s chat about the time of day: should you opt for sunrise or sunset? Let’s go over both options as there is no right or wrong answer but there are differences between the two.

Which is the best option? Consider these points:

  1. Are you morning people?
  2. How far will you need to travel to the location?
  3. Do you mind crowds?
  4. Are you testing out bridal hair and make up?
  5. Will the photos look differently at sunrise or sunset?

1. Let’s see if you’re morning people! While most of us aren’t used to getting up at 4.30 a.m. and getting ourselves glammed up, it doesn’t mean that we can’t do it for a special occasion.

Most adults can adjust for one day but it’s important (if you have a young baby or kiddos in tow) that you make sure to schedule the photoshoot when the kids are the happiest (and well rested). Not only do you need to get yourself ready but you have to consider the little ones too! You’ll have much happier kids and photos that you’ll love, if you choose the time based on your children’s schedule rather than the photographer’s.

What time will we meet? Let’s say that the sun rises at 6.30 a.m., we would meet by 6.00 a.m. (at the very latest). This gives us time to meet, walk to our location and be in place ready for the sun rising. Therefore, you would need to leave downtown Asheville by 5 a.m. and get ready prior to your drive. You do the math on how much time you might need to look ready!

2. If you are staying in the Asheville area, typical travel time to/from a photoshoot in nature will take between one hour and 90 minutes. Don’t be fooled thinking that it’s early morning traffic and you can shave off time….nope, you’ll be driving in the dark (either at sunrise or sunset), possibly in fog and definitely on winding roads. Plus, we have to be extra careful with animals active at dusk, please leave plenty of time for a relaxed and safe trip.

3. Do you mind being amongst lots of people? One of the greatest differences between sunrise and sunset is the number of people sharing the space with you.

At certain times of the year, I don’t offer Asheville sunset sessions (think: peak season weekends) and will only offer sunrise sessions. Why? Lots and lots of people! Wherever you look on the mountain or at a waterfall, you could potentially have several groups surrounding you taking in the view.

While most fellow nature lovers are incredibly considerate, we also need to share the space and respect that others wish to take in the gorgeous vistas. The wonderful Blue Ridge and Smoky mountains are for everyone to revel in! But if you feel that you generally prefer a quieter environment, opt for sunrise.

If you feel that you can only make a sunset session and you dislike the idea of an early start, be flexible and make it work midweek. Midweek sessions are usually much quieter than the weekends and we can opt for sunset, knowing that we’ll have less people to work around.

4. Are you having a trial run of hair and makeup? If so, yes, we will need to book a sunset session!

It’s always a great time to see how your make up and hair-style photograph so that you can confidently see how you’ll look on your wedding day. If you need recommendations of hair and make up artists, reach out, we have worked with many wonderful artists!

However, if you’re skilled at creating your own make up looks and hair-styles, then you have the freedom to opt for sunrise.

I’ve had clients who have styled their hair the night prior and then the following morning, added in a spritz of dry shampoo for volume.

The beauty of having your photographs taken in the mountains (or at a waterfall) is that you don’t need a perfectly coiffed hair-do. We’re outside in the elements and need to work with Mother Nature and the wind. It can look incredibly romantic with hair flying in the wind.

5. Does sunrise look different to sunset? In short, yes, but then each day looks different!

I’m not a scientist or meteorologist but I can tell you from years of photographing people what I have witnessed.

I’ve found that at sunrise, there is typically more lower cloud coverage (if we’re shooting at 4,000 ft) and the colors appear mainly around the sun. There is more fog and mist, which hasn’t yet burned off and it adds to the atmosphere. The colors are more muted and there is a soft, romantic pastel look to the photos.

At sunset, there is typically more cloud coverage and once the sun dips below the horizon we are greeted with a multitude of colors in the sky. Changes in temperature and what the wind decides to do that day can make the colors bolder and the clouds dramatic, resulting in more of an epic feel to the shots.

I hope that the above five points helped you with your decision making and to decipher which is the best fit for you.

You might want to know if I have a favorite? The answer is: it varies!

At certain times of the year, I’ll prefer sunrise and then in the quieter, colder months, I’ll generally opt for sunset sessions.

My goal is to create photos that feature the vast landscape behind us and not simply portraits. When the space is busy, in order to not feature the crowds, I might have to shoot more cropped or simply have you stay in one location. A sunrise session (or off-peak sunset) allows us the opportunity to feature the majesty of the mountains and also have a multitude of backdrops.

Inevitably, what we want is for the session to be enjoyable and something that you’ll treasure forever. Additionally, if you truly are not a morning person, don’t force yourself to be one, opt for a midweek sunset session.

Below are photos from sunrise and sunset sessions taken over the past year so that you can make your own mind up which look you prefer. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions that you might have. Love, Tasha

Sunrise shots in the Asheville area:

Two brides eloping to get married in Asheville - Natasha Dale Photography
Bride and groom in the mountains in Asheville - elopement

Sunset shots in the Asheville area:

A sunset engagement photo session near Asheville in October