Madison Kirby’s first sunrise beach portrait session.

Sometimes the best you can do is just hold on for the ride.

Viewers of this blog remember Madison. She was featured here for the first time just last month. So why is she back already? Well, our first session went so amazingly well but, due to a late start, we didn’t get to shoot a quarter of what we wanted. So we decided to set up a second beach portrait session at the end of the first.

We agreed that the next time would be a sunrise session. I love, love, love sunrise sessions for a variety of reasons. The biggest one is that it’s the coolest part of the day, which considering where we are and what time of the year it is, is a huge benefit.

maddie-meyers-beach-sunrise-portrait 14

Another benefit is that there’s no one else around. No crowds, no crazy onlookers staring at you from 10 feet away, no one stepping into your shot. It’s also, typically, the most calmest. The sun hasn’t heated the air yet so the wind is at its lowest force. I also believe that sunrises are more vibrant and dramatic.

There is a catch, however. A sunset shoot allows us to meet, warm up, try on several outfits, get a couple hours of shooting in, and get into sync before the grand finally – the sunset. At that point we are firing on all eight cylinders and it’s rock and roll time.


A sunrise session is completely opposite of that. It’s like the Daytona 500 which is NASCAR’s biggest race of the year but it’s also at the very start of the season. The big show starts right off the bat and then it tapers off as the season progresses. It’s the same with sunrise sessions. We get there, we get a little warm up in, and then the big show begins. Once the sun comes up, the light gets gradually worse.

Because of this, I like doing sunrise sessions with those I’ve worked with before. We already know how to work with each other, know how the other person works, what to do, et cetera.

Madison blows my mind. She’s a newcomer but, at the same time, works it like an old pro. She has a natural talent for posing and has enough sass and energy for three people which is vital for these sessions. She is definitely not a shrinking wall flower but, rather, blossoms when the camera is on her.

These are the sessions I love because I can sit back, concentrate on my side of the camera, and try my best to capture what is in front of me. Indeed, at this point, I’m just trying to hold on and keep up and not break her flow.

Have no doubt that more sessions with her are coming.

As I type this, the neighborhood is holding their “End of Summer” pool party across the way. Let me just say that, despite what the calendar says, we still have plenty of time to hit the beach. I’ve done swimsuit/fitness sessions on the beach as late as mid-November here. There are still plenty of days ahead for these sessions.


Mark Knopp is a Hampton, 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.

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