Charity Luce’s First Beach Sunrise Photo Session.

Taking a risk pays off with stellar images.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned and that can be an awesome thing. For example, Charity Luce and I had planned a glorious sunrise session at the beach with vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges in the sky. When we got to the oceanfront at 5am, all indications were that we would have just that. The stars were peeking out between the scattered clouds. So we set things up and began the photo session.

But then the rain clouds moved in just before sunrise. And then it started to sprinkle. There was even a flash of lightening way to the south. (Let me make that clear – way to the south. I’d hazard a guess and say it was close to the Sandbridge/NC border. I didn’t even hear the thunder.) Most normal people would pack it up and head to their cars.

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But I’m not normal. We took a moment to look at the weather radar which showed that the rain was already breaking up over us and whatever was left would stay far to the south of us. We decided that, despite the rain and a lack of a proper sunrise, that we would go on with the session. It was a risk we decided to take.

Besides, I knew a secret.

Storm clouds make amazing backdrops for photo sessions. Think about it. Clouds take a bland sunrise/sunset and turn it into something spectacular. Storm clouds take that and magnify it by a factor of 10. Some of my best images were captured just before or just after a storm. I even wrote a blog about it back in 2015 – you can read it here.

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So I kept one eye on the weather radar and the other looking through my viewfinder. And we rocked it.

Charity is a relative newcomer to the modeling scene. She has done a few runway shows and a couple of photoshoots but this was her first time on the beach and the first time with me. Add to that the relative complexity of a sunrise session (under storm conditions at that) and you have a potential recipe for serious doubt and uncertainty.

She didn’t even flinch. She learned a lot about working with flash, posing, and owning the space she was in while it was still full dark. In short – she rocked the heck out of it. Within 15 minutes she was on her own, doing her thing like she’d been doing it for years. It was amazing to watch her presence in front of the camera just open up and bloom.

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People tell me I take amazing photographs. My response is that I just document the amazing things in front of me. These images are fine examples of just that.

Special thanks to Charity’s family for helping out with this session. These images wouldn’t be this amazing without your help.

Mark Knopp is a Yorktown, Virginia-based portrait photographer covering the Hampton Roads/Richmond areas and beyond. Contact him today at mknopp1(at) for your portrait needs or for photography lessons.

2 Replies to “Charity Luce’s First Beach Sunrise Photo Session.”

  1. Hello Mark K,
    You have stellar pictures of Charity Luce because you have a stellar person and model to photograph. You are stellar also, especially working with Charity. You both did superbly in what ‘normal’ people would call adverse conditions. Please give us more pictures of Charity as only you can.
    For myself and many others, thank you so much,
    Kathie Muller Cason

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