It’s a Tuesday morning, and I’m catching the first train from my house into central London.
I’m not a morning person. Honestly, I’d rather have a lie-in until 9 AM than be on a 5:30 AM train. But I do this because I firmly believe in the perks of having a sunrise photo session with my clients.
In the photography world, the term “magic hour” is thrown around a lot. Essentially it’s the time that the sun is lower in the sky and it creates more dramatic and golden light. It happens both in the morning and in the evening. It’s a much more flattering light than when it’s completely overhead. It can create a beautiful backlight or a dramatic front light, and it’s by far my favourite type of light to work with.
But the golden hour isn’t the only reason to get up early in the morning, but it’s the empty streets. London can get incredibly busy, especially around some of the prominent landmarks.
Tower Bridge, in particular, is one area that works best at sunrise. The rest of the day, the bridge is full of both commuters and tourists, filling out the walkways and feeling overrun. But first thing in the morning, the only other people you might run into are some morning joggers. The bridge feels empty and looks beautiful. So even if we don’t get any of that stunning morning light, the empty pathways make it worth the early morning.
Here’s another angle of tower bridge that is also typically quite busy in the middle of the day, but first thing in the morning, it feels peaceful.
But it’s not only Tower Bridge that can be worth the early morning. Some of London’s iconic train stations become insanely busy as the day moves on. Here’s a shot from Stuart and Ashley’s morning shoot at Saint Pancreas Station. As one of the busiest train stations in the UK, this entrance would generally have a lot of people and cars in the background, but first thing in the morning, it’s perfectly quiet.
Even on the streets, London is more photogenic at sunrise. Here’s a couple of frames from the morning of Catherine and Micheals wedding a few years ago.
I know that I’m also asking a lot from my clients to make the sunrise photoshoot happen. While I can show up in the morning without putting a lot of thought into my look, since I’m behind the camera, but I know my clients want to look their best, which takes extra time. If you’re worried about the getting ready process, there are some hair and makeup artists (which I’m happy to recommend) that are willing to do the early morning. And it’s worth the effort to pre-book a taxi to our starting point, as finding something on the street at that time of morning may be impossible.
So if you’re not put off by the idea of getting dressed up and heading out an ungodly hour, why not give a sunrise session a go?