It’s almost time.

The return of sunrise sessions in Virginia Beach.

I was walking my dog just now and realized that, for the first time this year, it would have been a glorious morning for a sunrise session. The air was warm and the sky was dynamic. I love working at the beach but I simply am crazy about sunrise sessions.

Now, you know me. I love doing portrait sessions at the beach. There are so many different “looks” we can achieve there. Then we cap off the session by using the sunset as a background for some truly stunning portraits.

So what’s the difference between a sunset portrait session and a sunrise portrait session? Let me explain.


You get all the glory of a sunset session but without the crush of tourists. This is Virginia Beach after all. People flock here starting in mid April to visit the beach. Normally the weekends are packed with people so I avoid shooting sunsets there on Friday and Saturday.

Now, compare that to sunrise. We can relax and open up without 100’s of people literally within shouting distance of us. The beaches are cleaner and the air is calmer in the morning. Parking is never a problem.

The biggest bonus is that its the coolest part of the day so while others are melting in the 95+ degree of the southern Virginia afternoon heat, we’re doing our thing at much more comfortable temps.

For me its a more spiritual thing. There’s something magical about starting a session under the stars and then be one of the first people on the entire coast to welcome the start of a new day. I get a much more deeper connection. Plus, when it’s over, I go home, shower and start the day on a higher level of being. It’s 100 times better than a cup of coffee.

We arrive an hour before sunrise to set up, try out outfits and get into a posing routine. Then we honor the arrival of the new day by using it as a backdrop. As the sun rises higher we switch to available light mode and use the clean swept, empty beaches to our advantage. We are typically done about an hour after it comes up.

So, if you’re an adventurous soul who wants the freedom of a nearly empty beach then a sunrise session is just what you need.

Mark Knopp is a Virginia-Beach-based portrait photographer and photography teacher that covers the Hampton Roads community and beyond. Contact him today at mknopp1(at) for all your photographic needs.


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