While often considered as a real estate mantra, Location, location, location also matters greatly in outdoor photography.
In fact, when it comes to planning an outdoor photo shoot, few details are as important as location. From travel photography to wedding photoshoots, having a great background can transform an ordinary photo into an extraordinary and memorable one.
The location of your shoot will determine the success of the photo. It will decide other factors, too — things like props, equipment, suitable poses, and even what the subjects should wear will be driven by the location of the shoot.
Ready to take your photography on the road? Here is your guide to choosing locations with confidence.
1. Look for places with various backdrops
When choosing a setting for your outdoor portrait photoshoot, opt for a location that contains a variety of backdrops. The optimal outdoor location for a photo shoot will be one that enables you to achieve several“looks” with the final set of images.
When working with your clients, consider a location that has different backdrops and a variety of textures. A beach, for example, is a great location for a portrait shoot. Various textures are present (water, sand, grassy knolls), as are environmental and architectural elements.
2. Consider the season
There are two important things to be aware of when scouting a location for a photo shoot.
First, each season will provide different environmental elements to play with. This is particularly true for photographers that live in a four-season country. A photoshoot in autumn means colorful foliage. A summer shoot, on the other hand, includes lots of natural light and long shooting days.
Second, weather can change in an instant. Seasons can determine how quickly the weather changes. It can be sunny one minute, giving you the perfect amount of natural light. The weather can suddenly shift, hanging clouds over your shoot, giving the final images a dramatic look.
3. Get off the beaten track
Your subject and their experience in front of the lens can greatly influence the location of your photo shoot. While certain subjects will thrive in urban portraits, many will feel self-conscious in such a high-energy and dynamic setting.
Moreover, crowded places mean dealing with passersby or people moving in and out of your frame.
If your subject has difficulty relaxing in front of your camera because of the disturbances around, shoot in a quiet place. This can mean secluded beaches or grassy fields. If you do shoot in an urban setting, find a quiet, closed-off location. This will allow you to shoot undisturbed.
4. Think about accessibility
A location is only suitable if it’s accessible by everyone. If you and your subjects have to navigate rocky or steep terrain, it may not be the right location to shoot. Not only do you have to travel with all your equipment and gear, but the weather can also change on you quickly.
When scouting for a location, look for a place that’s accessible for everyone — one that’s easy to get to and come back from. Also, choose one with overhead cover or shelter, such as a bridge or café. This will be a lifesaver in the event that the weather decides to be uncooperative.
Remember, safety should always be your number one priority on a location shoot. Even if it’s the most perfect spot for your shoot, never risk your safety or the safety of your subjects.
5. Apply for the right permits
Many outdoor locations require special permits. Some places, like cities, will require a permit if you are shooting with specific equipment or gear, and in some places, you will need to pay for the permits. Other locations such as parks may be private property, meaning they are protected by copyright.
Do your research first before heading out for the big day. When it’s time to shoot, confirm you have all the special permits required so you don’t have any trouble with the local authorities. It’s your job as the photographer to have everything you require in the field.
This may entail planning weeks or even months ahead to obtain the necessary permits to shoot in a specific location, and also bear in mind the costs against your budget.
Location photography can produce some of the most stunning images imaginable. But with so many elements and factors to consider, it can also be tricky to produce such results. Following the tips above, along with being flexible and adaptable, will be key to creating images that are frame-worthy.
Stefanie Descheemaecker is the Studio Manager at Stu Williamson Photography at The Palm Jumeirah – Fairmont Hotel in Dubai. She has been with the company for almost 3 years and is the driving force behind the success of the business. A keen amateur photographer, Stef combines her natural creative eye with a strong business acumen to help Stu Williamson Photography become the most trusted and successful photography business in the UAE.