Scouting for the best photo-shoot locations is one of the most crucial things in a professional photographer’s workflow.
To find a location that fits the theme or event and also make sure it falls in line with the technical aspects like lighting, composition and logistics can be a little tricky sometimes.
In order to get all your “ducks in a row,” a faster workflow would help you organize your location finding process more efficiently.
Best Photoshoot Locations and how to find them
1) Decide on the theme
To begin with, let’s see how we can begin to scout for a new location. What kind of a photoshoot is it going to be?
When you already know what the theme of your next session is inspired from, it’s easier to find a setting or a location that compliments your general idea.
1) For instance, if it’s going to be a portrait session for children, you will have to think on their lines and find a place that resonates with their nature and comfort levels.
In order to capture the sweet innocence and enthusiasm of a child, a simple trick is to put her in a place that makes her happy.
Children are often happiest amidst natural surroundings like their home, a pretty porch, their favourite beach, a full-bloomed garden, a park and even the woods or open fields in your neighbourhood.
2) If you are shooting a client’s portfolio with ‘vintage’ as your main theme, you could use museums and well- landscaped gardens with historical backdrops to showcase your subject.
Or you could simply shoot indoors using vintage and antique props that look gorgeous when teamed with contrasting elements.
3) Or is it going to be a pre-wedding shoot?
Pre-wedding shoots are an intimate thing and in order to find the right location, getting inputs from the couple could help you decide on what works well for them.
Some couples prefer an urbane backdrop while some would like a much more serene surrounding. Balancing between your own technical needs as a photographer and that of your clients can help you make a decision fairly.
Shooting at a bridge across a river, the beach, a lighthouse, a botanical garden, a raised beachside/coastal terrace, a beautiful resort, a stranded ship, the options are endless for a pre-wedding shoot.
You could even help them find a place that has a certain sentimental value. Indulging them in their favourite pastime and making them comfortable will be a sure-shot way to get them to warm up to the photoshoot quickly.
Though not always possible, trying to bring a considerable amount of attachment to the subject and his/her surroundings can help you capture the intimacy between a couple or any of your subjects while you are shooting.
2) Get the Lights right!
Lighting is by far the most crucial element during a photo session. The morning blue light or the early blue hour is great to take pictures of city landscapes or famous landmarks inside the city like palaces, monuments, city squares and other historical buildings that are beautifully lit up. There isn’t any crowd, to begin with, and the blue tones bring about an ethereal characteristic to the surrounding.
Whereas, the golden hour is perfect for nature shots taken at the beach, mountains and other landscapes when the sun is rising or setting.
The golden hours are also great for outdoor portraits as they provide soft lighting and do not throw too many harsh shadows on the subject.
The best possible way to get comfortable with the lighting is to actually spend some time in the location before the day of the actual shoot. You can get a sense of how the light plays during different times of the day.
That way, you can decide ‘for’ or ‘against’ shooting in certain spaces of your location according to the direction of the sunlight.
Writing down these observations along with their specific times can make things a lot easier for you on the day of the shoot.
Using apps such as “The Photographer’s Ephemeris”, “Photo Pills” or “Sun Surveyor” can give you an idea of where the sun is placed, magic hours, twilights, rise and set times etc.. This could aid you in deciding when you can make use of the best natural light while shooting your subject outdoors.
Google Earth Pro
The Google Earth Pro is a super cool tool used by professionals to scout for locations right down to the details of the exact place you would like to shoot. The 3D visuals view is another cool feature that gives you a great view of the exact location from all angles and you can even pick the perfect spot for your tripod. (It is as interactive as that!)
Other photographers who have shot at the same location before also share and tag their pictures to the location, so it gives you a fair idea about how the colours and the lighting is going to look. And you can even pin the parking spot that is closest to your chosen location on the map.
If you are pressed for time, then Google Earth Pro is the tool for you. All you have to do is pack your equipment and get going on the day of the shoot. Google Earth Pro is loaded with useful features and it also saves you time and energy when you are scouting for possible locations.
3) Figure out the Convenience:
An ideal location should have at least the basic needs met while photo shooting.
If you have found a spot around the beach, you would also be better off looking for a sheltered place where you can run to, in case it rains. And since you are carrying expensive equipment, it’s best to have an alternative plan to save them from getting wet.
There should be a toilet at least within half a kilometre in the vicinity. Even better if you have a coffee shop or a bar where you could take a break or freshen up.
Parking spaces are also quite important when you have a lot of equipment to carry. It’s best to find a parking spot that is as close to the photo-shooting spot as possible.
4) Permissions and Licenses to Photoshoot
This could be an important point to ponder. Some public places, parks and gardens, historical landmarks and buildings might need you to get a license or a permit from the local authorities.
This is applicable especially when you are using photo-shooting equipment like tripods, modifiers and generators that might cause some kind of inconvenience to the public.
Getting in touch with the local authorities and getting the required permission letter can save you a whole lot of mess and confusion at a later point in time.
These are some quick ways to make sure you have everything covered when you are looking for the best photoshoot locations.
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If you want to read all the posts in our photography workflow series please click on the links below.