Dusk shots can make or break the work of a photographer, the client’s expectations on deliverables and a project as a whole. They are one of the most demanding of images to create and yet most project briefings always have the wording ‘a few dusk shots’. But are dusk shots really needed all the time? Do they contribute to the project story? 

Dusk shots are all too common in computer generated renders, real estate imagery and any on-line pictorial environments showcasing architecture that I believe we have become to reliant on them when it comes to final photography. Dusk shots are much more and I will run through some of the reasons and approaches as to why we should or should not include them in our list of shots for a project.

The biggest question to ask is ‘why’. Why are you creating a dusk shot of the project? Lets face it. Not all projects are created equally and some projects just don’t lend themselves to being shot during, what photographers call, ‘The Magic Hour’. So why waste valuable photography time on site shooting externals when you could be doing more inside? 

Some of the reasons behind creating dusk shots are varied and knowing what this is will help refine what types of shots are required. Are you shooting for the lighting engineer / supplier? Does the project need lighting to help explain certain architectural elements or materials that day shots just don’t communicate? Does the lighting actually contribute to the design philosophy of the project? In the example below this house was shot at dusk to explain the need for having a minimal impact on the adjacent turtle beach at night. Low lighting was used to balance out the requirement of adequate illumination in the house but also not interfere with breeding turtles during their annual laying seasons.

Not all dusk shots are created equal. Some are taken earlier in the afternoons, some are taken later on as it gets darker. Some are even created at dawn and yet are still referred to as dusk shots.


Both of these images are of the same residence. But in order to maintain a consistency in the image colouring and light temperature both a traditional dusk shot and one created at dawn were required. The first image was taken at 4am in the morning allowing the backlit sky to highlight the geometry of the house whilst also creating a very warm glow. The second image in the series was taken at the more traditional time of day ( approx 6pm at time of season ) and was a determining factor in creating the first image at dawn so that both images balanced in their colouring and temperature.

Sometimes dusk shots are taken in conjunction with their daytime version to demonstrate the various personalities a space can take on at various times of the day.

Temperate of shots for dusk work.  ( Bennison warm vs cool shot or a mix in between )

Projects that are predominantly of solid material or contain small apertures for doors and windows inherently do not photograph well at dusk. There is limited light spilling out from internal spaces and the small openings just dont allow the viewer to see within. On the other hand projects that are predominately made from a transparent material such as glass or other translucent cladding materials are perfect candidates to shoot at night.

Temperate of shots for dusk work.  ( Bennison warm vs cool shot or a mix in between )