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  • Samantha Cryer

5 Reasons Sunrise is the Best Time for a Beach Photoshoot

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

So, what is it with photographers and sunrise? If you’ve been looking for photographers who can provide a beach photoshoot or other outdoor session in Hawaii or elsewhere, you’ve probably noticed that they like to schedule these right when the sun comes up. But why?

Yes, photographers do know that not everyone is an early bird. And we also realize that an early session time can occasionally be challenging, depending on the ages and normal routines of your family members. But believe me, a sunrise session is worth it! Here are 5 reasons sunrise is the best time for a beach photoshoot—especially in our gorgeous island home!

Avoid Heavy Traffic and Road Congestion

Many tourists envision Hawaii as a small island paradise. The reality, as locals know, is a little different. Hawaii is home to a lot of people, which in today’s world also means busy highways! Between commuters and tourists, gridlock traffic is a daily occurrence, even on the weekends. This is true not only of the Big Island, but of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the other smaller neighboring islands. Nothing is more stressful than being stuck in traffic and running late—or even missing your entire session. An early start before others are up ensures you will arrive on time, feeling relaxed, and be able to enjoy your beach photoshoot.

Snag the Best Parking Spots

Another logistical issue you may not think about is parking. As residents know, beach parking is limited and fills up fast—and you don’t want to be driving around and around, eating up your session time, while you look for a place to park. Nor do you want to leave your car some distance away and have to hike to your location, arriving tired and sweaty. Just another of the many reasons sunrise is the best time for a beach photoshoot!

man and woman kissing during sunrise beach maternity photoshoot in Hawaii

Beautiful Backgrounds and Empty Beaches

Admittedly, I use the word empty somewhat figuratively here. Hawaiian beaches are never really empty, and even at sunrise you will probably have a few other people on the beach. If you are working with an experienced photographer though, having a few people in the background is not not a huge issue. But no matter how good your photographer is, a crowded beach full of people with their brightly colored umbrellas, tents, and toys will ruin your beautiful ocean-view photos. We want to capture wide-open beach shots with just your family and the gorgeous Pacific, and (trust me) sunrise is the only time that will happen.

Perfect “Golden Hour” Lighting

Ask any photographer and they’ll tell you that lighting is one of the most important elements for a successful beach photoshoot—or any photoshoot. You can have a gorgeous setting, perfect props, state-of-the-art camera equipment, and a photographer with years of experience under their belt, but without the right lighting, your photos simply won’t turn out as beautifully as you’d hoped. There’s a reason many photographers will only book outdoor photo sessions at sunrise. It’s called golden hour for a reason! At sunrise, the light is gently soft and golden, casting you and the beach in the best light possible, without any harsh shadows to detract from your images. Not to mention that squinting against bright sunlight in photos isn’t much fun—and doesn’t make you look your best in photos either!

Mom and daughter seated by palm tree on Oahu beach during family photoshoot

Comfortable Temperatures

Hawaii may have earned a reputation as an earthly paradise, but it’s also a tropical paradise, and that means heat. Hawaii is hot, and as the sun rises, so does the temperature. This is another reason I recommend capturing your family’s beach photos at sunrise, so that the temperature is pleasant and you’re not sweating in your photos or feeling sticky and uncomfortable. (On that note, I also recommend light, loose clothing for your beach photoshoot. That way, even it does get a little warm, you’ll still feel comfortable and be able to enjoy the experience.)

Outdoor Family Photography on Oahu

why sunrise is the best time for a beach photoshoot

Have I convinced you to set that alarm? I hope so! Family photography on the beach is absolutely beautiful, and the experience itself will be a wonderful memory for you to treasure. Whether you live in Hawaii or are here on vacation, I would love to help you document this special chapter in your family’s story. I’ve found that the beach is often the perfect place to capture natural, candid moments of fun and relaxation with Oahu families. Children love playing in the sand and waves, and adults often find it easier to achieve natural smiles and poses in an outdoor setting than in a studio.

My goal for you is not only beautiful artwork, but a special experience you can reflect on with pleasure for years to come. This is why I like to keep things pretty laidback during your family photo session—so you can just be yourself and enjoy this time with your family. I will take care of capturing the moments, keep things moving so young kiddos don’t get bored or restless, and gently guide you into poses that are both natural and picture-perfect.

You can learn more about my session options and style of photography for Oahu’s modern families here. All of my packages come with some form of physical artwork, such as a professional album or archival quality wall art, in addition to digital images, because I want you to have memories you can touch, hold, display in your home, and pass down to your children. You can even upgrade your session to include video!

Let’s Connect

If you’re ready to book a beach photoshoot for your family, or simply have questions and want to chat, please reach out. You can also follow me on Instagram for more beautiful photos and to see what we’re up to here at Papica Photography. I’d love to connect with you on social! Aloha, and I hope to see you and your family soon on one of Hawaii’s beautiful beaches!


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