How to Look for a New Photo Shoot Location
If you enjoy taking photographs than you probably have struggled to find a good photo shoot location more than once. To make the process a little easier we compiled a list with useful tips that will definitely help you out.
I like photography and when I have time I often spend it walking around with a camera and annoying strangers. Of course, I’m far from being a professional, but the process itself and all the preparation that goes into it brings me joy. No matter how much I love it though there has always been one thing that annoyed me more than a bit. The city I live in is absolutely gorgeous, but comparatively small and finding a new photo shoot location that is both convenient and looks interesting is quite a challenge.
Whether you are a professional photographer or an amateur, I bet you’ve struggled with it as well. To make anything less tedious, I usually come up with a system… So that is what I did. The system is not revolutionary – more like a collection of tips – but it works well and can be used for all kinds of photo shoots be it a commercial, wedding, or candid.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it!
Step 1. Initial assessment
It all starts right here and now — on your couch or at your desk. It might feel like since photography is creative, the process should be messy, and you should always go with your gut. But I would argue it is rarely the case. Before you schedule a photo shoot and start looking for the perfect location, you should have an idea of what you want the end result to be. You need to think of the following things:
Are you taking a photo of a relative, model, food, or location? They not only require different techniques but ask for different sets and locations.
Is it an advertisement, or a series of shoots for a catalog? Are you taking a photo of an event or maybe of someone who just wants to change their profile picture? It all will determine whether you need to be looking for a studio to rent or hunting for the new location outside.
Of course, you need to know your budget, but that’s not the only thing you should be thinking about. You need to consider all the resources you will be working with including technologies, props, people, and time. If you have a big team for a project, then you need to have a location that will accommodate all of them. If the person you are shooting has only a couple of hours, you should consider that as well when looking for a new photo shoot location.
After you have determined all these, it helps to write down a couple of words — around 3-5 — that will help you set the tone of a photoshoot and guide you through the process. It will not only help you to stay focused but will also help you explain the people you are working with what you expect from them.
Step 2. Let’s the hunt begin!
Now, it’s time to go for a hunt. If you want to find a new photoshoot location, first you need to put on the ‘photographer’s eyeglasses.’ Basically, it is another way of saying that you will need to be more attentive to your surrounding.
Ok, you’ve put the glasses on. You might think — now what? Where should you go? What should you do? Well, try starting out with one of these options.
The light is photographers’ best friend (and worst enemy). The same location is going to look very different at different times of the day. If you have a place in mind that seems a little boring, you should try visiting it a couple of times in different light. Light is an interesting and important subject in and of itself that definitely deserves your attention.
For example, when it comes to portraits, it is thought that the golden hours — the time right after the sunrise and right before sunset — are the best. At that time, the light is mellow and soft which looks beautiful on human subjects. Of course, it does not mean that it is the only time to shoot — it is more of a suggestion than a rule.
Common and even ‘ugly’ places
There are places that we do not think are exciting — like supermarkets, thrift shops, or even our own houses. They are not ugly, of course, but we get so used to them that we stop even considering them as potential photo shoot locations. Most of the time, it is a real loss.
Try thinking of ways you can use what you already have — the park nearby your house, a supermarket, a library, a botanic garden, or any location you have been regular too. Those locations might not at all be ugly, just habitual.
As a photographer, you are the one who is framing that shot, and you decide what the viewer is going to see. The location itself might not be exciting, but the detail you choose to include in the shot might transform it.
Any place transforms once you actively start seeking out interesting things about it. A crack in a wall that has annoyed you for the longest time might make for an unusual background that will look great on a photo.
Don’t forget that at the end of the day photography is an artistic medium. If the subject and purpose allow for it, try being metaphorical. If the idea for a shoot is new beginnings why not visit a nearby station? It will not only help you discover new places that you might have ignored otherwise but also help your subjects act out a story and feel more comfortable with the camera.
If you are shooting for a wedding or a family album, you can also ask your subjects if they have any meaningful memories connected to a certain place. Even if the location is generic, the fact that it means something to the people will make it special.
Get inspired (or steal like an artist)
If you are interested in photography, you probably follow photographers on social media whose works you like. Even though it might feel like it is not professional, the truth is there is nothing bad in using their work as an inspiration. To an extent, everyone does it.
Look through their tags on Instagram, study the locations they choose and try to replicate them. You can even reach out to photographers and ask them questions (while being very polite, reasonable, and friendly). You will definitely find a place or two that worth your attention.
Outside help: websites and friends
Luckily, if none of the options above worked for you, then you have one more. In your hunt for the best photo shoot location, you can refer to your acquaintances and everyone’s trusted friend — Google. There are plenty of websites and applications that have lists with studios for rent.
If you are looking for a beautiful apartment, turn to Airbnb; if you are looking for a photo studio try Peerspace. They are not available everywhere, but if you live in any of the major cities in the US than there is a high chance you will find something that will suit your taste and needs. For those interested in outside settings, Flickr can be very useful. Cool and unconventional city guides might also help you find cool locations.
Step 3. Come in prepared
If you have spent all this time trying to find the perfect photo shoot location you probably want the quality of your photos to be on par with the effort you spent on just preproduction— so come in prepared. The beautiful location is responsible only for ¼ (if not less — countless generic photos nearby the Eiffel Tower being the best example) of a good photograph. It is much more than only that.
Maybe, check in once or even twice before inviting people there. Notify people them in advance if they need to be prepared for a rainy weather. Even after you do, bring a couple of umbrellas with yourself, and have a backup location in mind in case something happens. If you need permission to shoot at the place, make sure to have it. I know it might be annoying but, unfortunately, if you do not take care of those things no one else will.
There you have it — The Best Photo Shoot Location
The biggest problem with finding the best photo shoot location is not the absence of it. There is something exciting about any place you go — you just need to be open and attentive to your surrounding to notice it.