Introduction to Location Scouting

Location is one of the biggest things a photographer needs to think about. A sunrise over a hill as a stallion gallops toward you, a sunset wedding in May, night on the streets of New York – these are all glorious images that require one thing; location!

If you’re tasked with shooting a certain project all you really need to do is think hard and look around your neighborhood first. Each town has its own history, people, and locations. There are a million hidden gems that would look fantastic in a camera lens if you think about them for your project purpose. Remember; more often than not you only need a glimpse of a setting to let the audience know where you are.

The more you know where you live – the better you can accommodate any shooting situation or request. As a photographer we are often asked if we could accomplish a certain task in a certain spot or if we could think of a certain spot. Our job is a lot of trying to turn what clients have in their head into a final image or group of images.

introduction to location scouting

This is AJ. He is one of my clients (great guy) and is an actor in NYC. He was going for a more cinematic feel to this shoot – so what better than to create a widescreen style shot on the streets of NYC? He looks like he’s jumping out of a movie.

Think about your work more three dimensionally – especially for your own portfolio. Go out and seek out new places or undiscovered locations that would lend to your craft. If you go out exploring and find a place you like then the next step is bringing someone with you to shoot. Bring a friend or model and create something. Then take it a step further. Maybe next time bring lights and a makeup artist. Finding a great location can evolve into a signature location, which will make people want to work with you to get those exact shots they like so much.

Besides shooting in a bustling Metropolis; parks are a great place to shoot especially during golden hour, which is when the sun rises and sets. You get some great natural lighting. There are many apps that let you know what time the sun will rise and set as well as the position of the sun at any given time of day. This can come in handy when you start planning your location shoots. A key ingredient is remembering that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. That translates to how lighting will affect your location during the day.

introduction to location scoutingThis photo was taken in a gazebo in Central Park around sundown this past fall. The lighting and location add much depth to the photo and subject – creating an almost ethereal feel.

As a photographer we should always be exploring and bringing our camera everywhere. When you start scouting locations you may want to try and keep it local first before you add the element of distance or extraneous travel if you want to bring subjects or create a project.  If you’re shooting landscapes then by all means go as far away as possible!

If you’re not comfortable venturing out yet just think about all the cool things you can do in your own backyard – literally! Go to Home Depot and snag a variety of things that you can paint, set up, and leave around. Grab a friend and start shooting on these sets that you yourself created. Sometimes the best locations are the ones you create.

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This entry was posted by Richard Storm.

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