How To Scout Photography Locations

Have you ever wondered what makes a particular image so spectacular that you feel you can instantly relate to it?

Does a beautifully captured photographic shot make you wonder about the story it is trying to depict? Can you see the artistry that a photographer is attempting to portray through one of his clicks? The photographic collections we come across and admire are not merely a result of mastering the use of a camera. Photographers, in reality, spend hours, days and months exploring locations that will breathe life into their photographic expression. To make this potentially long and tiring process a bit easier, there are a few things to remember when scouting for photography location.

Scouting Locations for Photo Shoots

Experienced commercial photographers will tell you that surveying potentially suitable site is equally as significant as making sure you have all your equipment packed and ready before a photo shoot. Here are some important things to bear in mind when you step out for scouting photography sites:

Follow the theme: If you are working on a project with a particular theme, it is advisable for you to scout locations that will help you portray your theme in the most pronounced way possible. With limitless location options at your disposal, it can be a long and exhausting process to shortlist the sites you want to cover. The important thing to remind yourself is that not every site is meant for every type of photography.

What will help you is to create categories of the locations you scout. In the first category, set aside a few specific spots in your mind for shoots that cater to niche photography segments, make sure that a wide majority of your scouted locations are ones that are general in nature. The latter category can be used to bring the essence out of almost any kind of theme, and can include spots like a high-activity metropolitan area, or even a natural landscape.

How to scout a photography location - Follow the Theme
Find the best elements to work with: To create a compelling photographic shot, you need to orchestrate a collection of elements that come together in perfect harmony as soon as you click your camera button. The best way to go about crafting an image is to first compose the backdrop without the subjects, which will allow you to have a clear idea of where to place them when the time for the actual photo session arrives. To put together various camera-friendly components is something you learn with experience, and should not take much time if you are particularly skilful in the art of photography. Just bear in mind that the main idea is to use your camera as the tool to help a well-synchronised, artistic piece of work emerge within what seem to be a variety of elements in disarray.

Simplicity is key: It is but natural to be drawn towards a site that is undeniably exuberant and exotic. The challenge with working with such locations, however, is that since they are so overstated by themselves, they usually do not serve as ideal backdrops. This happens because such spots seem to steal the spotlight from the primary subject of your image. In fact, most of us have seen images where the model seems to be disappearing in the background. For this reason, it is ideal to use locales that are understated, which help concentrate the viewers attention on the model rather than the background.


Be mindful of lighting considerations: With light being one of the most essential components of photography, photographers have to ensure that there is adequate light for their photographic venture. Depending upon the time of the day you choose to carry out your photo shoot, you need to decide whether the location can make do with the available natural lighting, or will require you to install extra lighting and/or use reflectors. Another challenge that photographers often encounter is to figure out what time of the day would be ideal for them to make use of sunlight for their portraiture. The problem with natural light is that it varies throughout the day. This makes it imperative for you to observe a location at different hours of the day, when it is exposed to the sun, partially shaded and completely under the shade. By taking test images at different times of the day, you can determine the amount of light that gives you the perfect results in relation to the story you are aiming to tell.

Make sure you have the required paperwork: No matter how much you love a certain spot, be wary that you may be required to acquire an official permit or other legal documents that authorise you to organise your photo session at a particular location. This is especially true for private or government-owned properties. Additionally, be prepared that while some property owners or government offices will happily let you use their premises, there is also a possibility that your request would have to face rejection. In such situations, it helps to keep an alternative site as plan B.

Find out about the availability of power outlets: If your photo shoot is somewhere in the city, it should be easy for you to find power outlets for recharging camera batteries or connecting additional lights. In case of outdoor locations, however, there is a strong possibility that you will not have any power sources available. This applies to remote areas, in particular, where there is very little likelihood of gaining access to electricity, which essentially means that once you ensure the non-availability of power outlets during your survey, you need to make arrangements for back-up power sources. While shooting in such areas, it would be wise to pack a number of extra batteries for your camera, and invest in battery operated studio lights.

Better safe than sorry: If you are the adventurous sort, chances are that you are always ready to take up the challenge of scouting and capturing dangerous locations, such as crumbling structures or the very edge of a high-rise building. While you are more than welcome to exercise your love for daring scenarios when you are doing a photo shoot without involving anyone else, you have to take extra precautions if there are other people working alongside you. This means that any time there is a client, model or any of your own crew members, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Any accident happening because of the poor location choice you made can not only result in legal repercussions against you, but will tarnish your image for a long time to come.


Related Articles