You’re ready to shoot, you have your gear set and a model ready, but you don’t have a location picked out. In this article, we’ll explore what to look out for when you scout new photoshoot locations for your next shoot, as well as offer some useful tools and resources to help you along the way.
Know what your client expects
Take the time to get to know what your client wants out of the shoot. Knowing what tone your client expects from the shoot is key to finding the right locations. Find out what your client will be wearing, what their mobility is like, and how you can fit the photoshoot to their personality.
Ask the client about photographs that they are drawn to, or how they see their sense of style or how they express themselves. This will help you plan out poses and locations. Be sure to consult with them about what sort of environment they want to be in. Do they want to do capture the natural beauty of their favorite park? Do they want to do a portrait session at home or at a place that means a lot to them? Doing this will help your client feel relaxed and have fun. The pictures you’ll get will be ones they are bound to love and be proud to show their friends and family, generating you more clients.
Scout at different times of day
Try to visit potential photoshoot locations multiple times during the day. Look for where the sunlight is coming from. Does it give direct sunlight or is it shaded? How busy is the location? How hard is it to get your gear there and in place? What steps do you need to do to make sure your models and your equipment are able to finish the shoot?
Don’t leave something this important for last minute! While tools like Google Maps can give you an idea of a how a location looks, seeing it in person makes a world of difference. Look up to see if any public areas are going to be involved in an event. You don’t want to be caught scrambling for a new location when it turns out there’s a marathon through your photoshoot location!
Pay Attention to Every Detail
The biggest problem most photographers face generally is related to lighting. Not all light is equal and choosing the right time of day, or bringing the right equipment to enhance or diminish a location is key to a successful shoot. Keep this in mind as you look at photoshoot locations.
The quality of the light really matters. Harsh, direct sunlight, or soft, indirect shade make a world of difference. Keep in mind the colors cast by surrounding objects, especially around trees, colorful buildings and graffiti. Try to find a natural reflector, like a white wall or truck, to bounce light back to your subjects faces. This will save you a lot of time trying to fix this in post-processing. Concrete or dirt paths also can act as a fantastic reflector to light the subject from below.
Keep an eye out for annoying telephone lines and poles, or for patterns of traffic that might ruin a shoot. Are amenities like bathrooms and power readily available? Is it easy to park? Do you need a permit or to pay a rental fee? Check the forecast to make sure you won’t be rained out or an expected overcast day is suddenly bright and sunny. Take notes about each shoot – even take photos of it for reference later!
Finding Photoshoot Locations Online
There are a number of tools now that you can use to help you find your next awesome location. One of the most useful websites for photoshoot locations is All Pictures Media. All Pictures Media offers 1000’s of film & photoshoot locations in cities such as Los Angeles, Istabul, and Dubai.
Another great resource out there is an app called The Photographer’s Ephemeris. It gives you all kinds of information for locations around the world. In The Photographer’s Ephemeris you’ll see readouts for elevation, a 3-D rendering of the terrain, a Google Earth overlay and more! When you find a location, it will display how the sun will appear on the day of your shoot. It gives sun and moon rise times, weather reports, and even the exact angle of the sun and moon. It helps you narrow down your options without having to travel to the location, but it does come with a price tag of $8.99. While expensive for an app, the time it saves and the value it provides are well worth the cost.
You can also hit up photo databases like Flickr or Imgur to find unique and fun locations. You can get an idea of the lighting, natural features, or of interesting moments that can be captured there. Simply searching wherever you plan to shoot is sure to return tons of results. You can also add in keywords to help narrow down your search for a not new location.
Google Earth is another awesome, and free, resource when it comes to finding photoshoot locations. Google Earth offers a 3-D render of just about anywhere on the planet. It also has a StreetView option so you can take a look at what the environment is around the world. Some locations even have park trails mapped out. StreetView also helps you take a look at a location from a variety of angles. It is an especially useful tool for urban photoshoot locations.
Go out and Explore!
Some of the best results though, come from just allowing yourself to explore. Next time you have some time to kill, go for a drive. Try to find someplace you’ve never been before and just imagine what you could shoot there. Seeing new things first hand is a fantastic way to stimulate your creativity and to find awesome new photoshoot locations.
Keep an eye out as you go through your daily routine of interesting places to shoot. What about that abandoned lot down the street? There might be some awesome possibilities there. You never know what you might find in your own neighborhood, or at your local park.