How do you find your locations?
Location, Location, Location
When a customer contacts you for a portrait session, wedding, or any type of shoot, you need to have a few places that you can use. These can be the local park or trails, or a local farm where you need permission from the owner.
Not all photo shoots need a beautiful landscape in the background. If you live in a mountainous region like the Rockies you are going to make sure that your favorite locations have mountains as a backdrop. But if you use a local park look around for points of interest. Make sure that the background is free of people, vehicles, and any distractions.
Some customers want a different type of setting such as industrial and office buildings. So don’t just think about pretty locations and find a few alternatives.
A location can be scenically beautiful, the side of a barn, or a brick wall with graffiti all over it. Your locations need to match your style.
How many locations do I need?
I really don’t think there is a set number. When you are just starting out two or three will give you enough variation. The longer you work as a photographer the more locations you’ll find. It becomes a habit to be on the lookout for new spots.
Think about your portfolio if you only use two locations all your images will look the same.
If you are shooting weddings there is still a need to have good locations. These are normally decided on with the couple and you suggest your favorites at this time.
What if the client wants a new location?
If the client has their heart set on a location you haven’t used, you need to check it out. You can just turn up on the day and hope it works out, but you really need to be fully prepared. Take a drive out and spend 10 minutes planning it out. You’ll get better results for your customers. On a few occasions, brides have told me about a location that I’ve ended up using for other shoots.
How do you find locations?
A lot of photographers say Google Maps is their best friend. I think this is true for finding parks and trails, but you still need to go to these places and find the spots you can use.
I used to go to a local park where I used a couple of large trees. They were great for shoots in all seasons, especially in Fall. I found this spot while I was walking my dog.
You really need to get out and spend some time walking around potential spots.
What else do you need to know?
As a photographer, you need to know in advance what time the sun sets, and what the light is going to be like at the time of the shoot.
I once had to explain to a bride that the plan to have the photos taken at 6:30 pm on a Saturday in late October wouldn’t be possible because the sun sets at around 6 pm.
If you have a few locations you need to decide the best times to do shoots there. This time will be different throughout the year so keep checking and make notes on each location.
If you are doing a portrait session think about the backdrop in a different way. When you use a shallow depth of field the image will have a bokeh, a blurry background. So if you pull your subject away from the background, the background will be just blurry colors. This will let you shoot in a less than ideal location and get great results.