What makes a good location for photography?
  • Helpful Hints
April 28, 2012

Location, Location, Location….. It seems to be the biggest concern for my clients and brides, but the least of my worries in the big picture. I tend to only take a few really wide angle shots and typically focus on portrait style photography. (Pulled closer in) Locations and outfits are usually the first questions I get about sessions. Don’t get my wrong- it is a smart question. So I wanted to explain my thought process when shooting and how a location is chosen. 😀

Before every session, Bobby and myself always scout. We typically arrive 30 minutes prior to all sessions and either scout on foot or drive around. I’m usually a little excited and probably act a little frantic. Bobby doesn’t say much—I talk WAY too much—and we always find what we want! It works out.

What am I looking for?

The first thing I look for is lighting. LIGHT IS PHOTOGRAPHY. It is my priority to find amazing light. There are several different kinds of light. I tend to lean towards finding reflective light, back lighting or diffused light. I hardly ever stick my client in direct light. So when looking for locations I try to decide where the sun will be at the particular time I wan to shoot there. It is important to know where the sun will be at all times because that is my light source and it isn’t consistant. It doesn’t wait on me and sometimes it invites its friends called “clouds” that really change everything 🙂



Making a Plan by Scouting

After we spot a few locations within walking distance of one another, we make a game plan. First thing- pack our bag and grab our gear. We head out on foot and look at the places we flagged in our mind as “awesome light” and start to make a road map of where we will walk our clients. This allows us to seamlessly shoot and carry a fun conversation with our client and not being so focused on “hunting” for locations. Being prepared is a necessity to our success.

Look for Textures & Colors

Locations can be ugly. The uglier; the better! Sometimes my clients look at my like I’m crazy. Trust me—beautiful places will always be beautiful, but to make ugly turn into beautiful is like a challenge! I accept! Once I know where my light source is and what kind of light I am shooting in, I then start thinking about textures, leading lines and ways to frame my clients.  Sometimes I pull away because the ugliness is rad, in my opinion! On both of these shots below–we were bouncing light from a reflector to light her face. 

Backlighting & Blurred Background

I loved the idea of using the building across the street as a background. I knew I wanted it “Blurred” out or in photog terms “Bokeh”. Fancy! I wanted to use the sun behind her to backlight the hair and create a dreamy look. I had her friend and temporary assistant (shout out to Kodi!) bounce light onto her face. Most people would tend to just put her in front of the bricks and shoot away…

Lighting with Strobes (Flash) & Close up

If you know me–you know I love lighting. Yes, it is a pain on location and outdoors, but the effect is awesome! This location in particular had a bunch of stuff in front of the stands that I didn’t like. So we decided to shoot down on her with strobes and let the ambient light behind her glow. We wanted to eliminate any distractions but still keep the sporty feel to the image. We like to shoot with strobe lights in the last hour of the day. So we save those type of photos for the end of the sessions. This is what photographers call the “Golden Hour”. It’s magnificent!

Posing to eliminate Distractions at your location

Again, she wants to highlight her athletic abilities, but I didn’t want the photos to be focused on distractions all around us. So I change my angle to where you can tell she is on a track and has her running shoes on, but you don’t have light poles, buildings or big distractions in the photos.

And here again… I did not want all the stuff in the background so I decided to change my camera settings to make the background darker and shoot “UP” at her to tone down those distractions.

This athlete really wanted a powerful image. So we decided  to shoot her photos at a track as well. Again, this is a great location for what we wanted to do, but we had to be mindful of all the power lines and distractions.


Locations are meant to help tell your story

Locations are important. I want my clients to know we love to take their suggestions and then really bring in our expertise to find the light, background and textures to make them POP! You–the subject are the most important part of a photo. The location is merely there to help tell your story and support you. We love to collaborate with our clients to help make them have not only amazing photos, but an experience to be cherished forever.


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