Monday, July 25, 2011

Choosing a Photo Shoot Site

Every once and a while when I get requests for a photo shoot the person knows they want photos taken, but they have no clue where and as the photographer it is up to me to suggest sites off the top of my head that would be perfect for their occassion.  Let me tell you... its not easy and requires a little bit of work, but you can build up a repertoire of locations to ramble off to potential clients at the drop of a dime.  Here is how:
1. Scout.  Start my simply driving around and knowing the area.  What sort of buildings/architecture are in the area.  Is it a public or private/posted location?

2. Get out of the car and walk the location.  When you do the photo shoot your client will expect you to know what you are doing and where you are going.  If you've never visited an area before you'll have to spend time imaging shots and determining good photo shoot positions rather than quickly moving from one photo to the next.  This can detract from the experience and ruin the mood. 

3.  What is the location suitable for?  If it looks romantic and whimsical then it would be a great couples location or little girl, while a rocky coast or old barn may be better suited for a boy.  Think of your clients personality or interests and be prepared to offer spots that reflect them. 
4.  How is the lighting given the time of day?  Knowing where shadows are or direct sunlight depending on the time of day you visit the location greatly affects the outcome of the photos.  Remember low light is much more flattering than mid-day sun.  Try and visit locations during those hours rather than the middle of the day. 

5.  How many people are around?  The less crowds the more relaxed your client(s) will be.  There will be less distractions, more natural smiles, and less chances of some other person walking into the background of your photos.  

6.  Note how you got to your desired location.  You'll need to be able to explain to your clients how to get to that location easily.

7.  Be sure and visit spots you choose during different seasons.  Sometimes a beautiful spot in the spring looks even better in the fall, or maybe a sweet summer spot looks awful in the winter.  Don't recommend a site if you saw it in one season and haven't visited in the current season your client will be photographed in, especially if trees and flowers are a large part of the scene. 

8.  Take a couple practice shots of the area.  You can always email them to your prospective clients to demonstrate how lovely the area you are suggesting really is. 

9.  Make a list if you need to of prospective spots so you can refer to it easily!

Following these ideas can help you land a client who is undecided in selecting a photographer and help you look more professional/put together.  Also, it will make your job on the day of the shoot so much better.  If you know the area you are shooting and have been there before then you'll be relaxed.  In return your client will be relaxed and then you'll end up with beautiful, natural photos! 

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