7 Great Reasons to do Early Morning Photography

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An age-old question is whether you’re an early bird or a night owl. Well even if you fall into the latter category there are compelling reasons why you should get up earlier than the crack of dawn! Those reasons are of course photographic! Early morning photography can result in stunning images. Is there any other reason for getting up at 5 am?

Whether you’re in your local area or somewhere on a trip, there is always a morning photography opportunity that will benefit from you waking up early. Those can be sunrises, or perhaps the chance to see local life at the market. So let’s see why you should be up at the crack of dawn.

temples of Bagan Myanmar at dawn - 7 Great Reasons to do Early Morning Photography

This is an iconic photo of the temples in Bagan in Myanmar. It is only possible to see the mist like this at dawn.

1 – The morning atmosphere

Why wake up early in the morning when you can get just the same light in the evening? There will still be a blue hour, a golden hour, and you can sleep in!

While it’s true there will be similar light at dusk, the atmosphere in the morning is very different. Waking up in the morning gives you the chance to photograph the morning mist, this can add a lot to your photo. This morning mist can really transform a scene, moving it on from good to great.

2 – Golden light

Venice at dawn - 7 Great Reasons to do Early Morning Photography

The golden light shines on these buildings in Venice, this is only possible to see and photograph in the morning.

There are of course two golden hours per day, if you’re an early bird you’ll have enjoyed the morning one before. Of course, a lot of people will want to photograph the sunrise sky directly. Turn around though and you’ll get all those warm colors flooding over the landscape in front of you.

This opens up a new variety of photos that you could take. Perhaps instead of photographing a landscape at sunset, you could get all those golden colors on it from sunrise.

3 – You’ll have the place to yourself

tai chi at sunrise - 7 Great Reasons to do Early Morning Photography

Getting up early in the morning means you get the place more or less to yourself. These tai chi practitioners add an element of storytelling to the scene.

As discussed in a previous article, there are benefits to photographing alone. When you wake up early in the morning this is much more likely to be the case. Now photographing a popular landmark without having to deal with hordes of other people in front of you will be easier.

The early bird catches the worm as they say, and the early morning photographer has the uncrowded streets to themselves.

4 – Morning photography is more unique

dawn view of a valley - 7 Great Reasons to do Early Morning Photography

Waking early in the morning for this scene was absolutely worth it.

The most dedicated of photographers will, of course, wake up for their morning photography. That means there will be photographs showcasing the best of the early conditions.

The chance that your photograph hasn’t been taken a million times before will be much higher, it will only have been taken thousands of times before. Okay, so to get a truly unique photo may require the use of some more creative photography techniques, but you increase your odds by getting up early.

5 – The angle for specific photos only works at sunrise

sunrise in Penang - 7 Great Reasons to do Early Morning Photography

The dove jetty on Penang island in Malaysia is a great example of a photo that works better at sunrise.

Whether you’re photographing at sunrise or for the golden light, certain photos need the angle of sun which is only found early in the morning. You can figure out what angle the sun will have at various times of the year by using suncalc or an app like PhotoPills.

As with all photography, plan ahead of time. Often planning months ahead of time is what it takes to get great photos. Getting the right light for your morning photography takes effort, but it’s almost always worth it.

6 – In hot countries the morning temperature is nice

Thaipusam festival - 7 Great Reasons to do Early Morning Photography

This photo was taken during the Thaipusam festival, which started well before sunrise.

You may not live in a hot country, but if you do you’ll know that the best time of the day is morning. It’s hard work walking around much past ten o’clock. Carrying around a camera bag, and putting in the legwork you need for your photos is far easier when the temperature is kinder.

Add in some humidity as well, and you may quickly give up on doing any photography in favor of that air-conditioned coffee shop. This heat will also affect your clarity of thought, especially when you get dehydrated, and you need to think clearly to get the best photos.

7 – You’ll catch more local life first thing

park in China with people exercising and moving around - 7 Great Reasons to do Early Morning Photography

The parks in China are alive with people first thing in the morning. If you arrive much after 9am you’ll have missed everything.

You may not see crowded streets first thing, but you will see more local life. That may take the form of a local market, or fishermen getting ready for work. There is a lot of activity that goes on at the crack of dawn, all waiting for you to capture with your camera.

It’s an amazing time to be a street photographer, but there will also be opportunities for landscape photographers. What can really bring a scene to life better than a farmer tending his field first thing in the morning?

Time to wake up early for your morning photography!

Inle lake Myanmar - 7 Great Reasons to do Early Morning Photography

The morning mist on Inle Lake, Myanmar, allowed for this photo with a minimal feel.

So whether this article is preaching to the converted, or you’re already a born-again early bird – there are good reasons to get up at dawn.

Have you photographed early in the morning before, what was your experience? Did you enjoy it, and get some great photos? We’d love to see your photography from early morning expeditions in the comments section. So go to bed early, wake up fresh as a daisy, and get some amazing morning photographs!

early morning in Venice - 7 Great Reasons to do Early Morning Photography

You get to see more of the local life in Venice if you get up before everyone else!

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Simon Bond is a specialist in creative photography techniques and is well known for his work with a crystal ball. His work has featured in national newspapers and magazines including National Geographic Traveler. With over 8 years of experience in crystal ball photography Simon is the leading figure in this field, get some great tips by downloading his free e-book! Do you want to learn more about crystal ball photography? He has a video course just for you! Use this code to get 20% off: DPS20.

  • aphotogenicworld

    I got up early to shoot the sunrise silhouetting Gisborough Priory in the UK, only to find that the site didn’t open until 10.00! Still, as you say there’s no one about at that time in the morning!

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