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Finding and selecting the right location for a photo shoot is the first step in achieving the look and feel you desire in your final product.
Before you even head out the door to look at potential sites, you’ll need to consider a few things. First, what type of story are your photos going to tell? From romance to celebration of life to nature, narrowing down the theme of the story you intend to tell through your photos will make selecting a site easier.
Once you know this, you can then start scouting to find the exact location for a perfect photo shoot.
If your photo shoot is scheduled for the late afternoon, do not go scouting for locations early in the morning.
The sunlight and shadows will look entirely different. Be sure to go scouting at the time of the day when your photo shoot is scheduled so that you can have a better idea of what the lighting will be. Traffic, noise, and even daily rain showers may have a regular interval of activity that will affect your photo quality.
For outdoor photo shoots, make note of which spots are in full sun, part sun, and full shade. You may find that this changes during different times of the day or during different weather conditions such as a sunny day versus an overcast day. You may desire to stick with an overcast day as it will produce the most consistent lighting conditions and will not affect facial features as much as full sunshine does.
Will you need access to electricity to power cameras, lights, and other equipment? If so, make sure the spot has what you need. Even if there is easy access to electricity, most audio and visual equipment is sensitive to power fluctuations. You may want to check ahead on the load already drawing power from the outlets or bring your own power surge protection equipment.
A photo shoot near trees may be at risk of bird droppings on people and equipment. A shoot near the sea may result in moisture or salt exposure on the camera lenses.
Moving water may spray water droplets onto lenses and lights. Taking equipment from a cold environment into a warm one could result in moisture that affects memory cards. You may want to pack umbrellas and other protective equipment to prevent problems such as condensation or infiltration of salt into the equipment.
Do you have enough room to set everything up? Is there enough space to take photos from multiple angles? Can you get to and from your vehicle easily to swap out equipment and supplies during the photo shoot? Is there sufficient parking for everyone involved? If there’s not enough space, everyone will be cranky and uncomfortable.
In addition to backup memory cards, lenses, batteries, and lights, consider other contingency plans for emergency situations. Is there cell phone service at the location? Is there access to rest rooms and food if needed? Is there a local camera store nearby in case of an equipment malfunction? How close is the nearest auto mechanic in case of a breakdown?
Whether the photo shoot will take place on public or private property, you may need to secure written permission before taking any photos. Failure to do so could result in your removal from the property. Plan ahead and find out well in advance whether permission to take photos is needed.
Bring all of your equipment and take a few test photos or a few seconds of video. Review it before the actual photo shoot is to take place. This will alert you to the need for additional lighting, strange shadows, or other issues of concern.