Today we're looking at how to select good photography locations. Why? Because there are several considerations (believe it or not) involved when selecting the right one for your next shoot. Let's face it, you’ll need a location for probably 80% of your photo shoots, except if you are strictly a studio photographer of course.
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However, locations oftentimes pose a bigger problem than one can anticipate. For every project I’ve done, I’ve spent days and days scouting for a location, sometimes only to find something that looks great but is unusable or vice versa – frustrating! The bigger problem is trying to judge the location before you head out to use it and it turns out that you haven’t anticipated something. That can cost you precious time and money. Let's look some more detail into the critical factors here.
Of course, visual appearance is something that should be the first point in the checklist when it comes to locations. Make sure that you scout the location properly and from various different angles – there's not often only one way to view a shooting angle. The beauty of one location isn’t always seen from first glance either (keep this in mind). Do some exploring inside and out, and then judge.
Additionally, when you explore multiple locations, it is wise to snap a few geotagged photos with your smartphone from each one and keep them. They will definitely come handy for some next shoots if you don’t use them now.
Secondly, you’ve found the perfect location, so where can you setup your scene? Have you noticed the light and the way it will change with the time of the day? Where does the sun fall, where does it create shadows? All important factors to consider…
Make sure too, that you take note of every location about the light. I can't stress how important this is. You can use applications like The Photographer’s Ephemeris to calculate where the sun will be, at what angle, at a given point in time. When you have that information at hand, it is so much easier to plan almost everything, from scene to light, to a combination of natural and artificial light. The more you know the more you can use the scene to it's fullest potential!
Locations like beaches, national parks, and most of the property require special permits for you to be shooting there with photography equipment. I know you’ll say that it is not possible to shoot without equipment, but oftentimes you won’t need permits if you keep your set small, say just a model and a camera, without any external flashes with big softboxes. However, if you bring out the “big guns” you’ll most likely need a type of permit from somebody. Make sure you have everything in order in the field because you don’t want the police or local security removing you or worse, arresting you.