Location Scouting Tips for Photographers
How to Find Great Locations Anywhere
Location scouting is an element of photography and film-making that many people might not consider when thinking of the occupations, but the location of a shoot can be as important as the choice of model or styling. As someone who is primarily a fashion photographer, I know this all too well. Here are a few tips on finding good locations as well as utilising them.
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
It’s likely that you spend a deal of your time going from place to place in your everyday life. It can be useful to pay attention during these commutes to the areas you pass. You can record them by taking a note of a street name or “landmark” such as a school, or even drop a “pin” in Google Maps to remind yourself of the area. If you don't use Google Maps, or don't like the idea of using pins, you could also screenshot the map and add it to a folder for locations. This is something that I find particularly useful.
Following on from the previous point, I’m sure that many of you are, by now, familiar with Google Maps and the features that it contains, but you might not have considered how you can use the app to aid you in your search for better locations. The street view function is one of my favourites, which allows you to explore an area online. Similarly, there is also a function called “explore” which allows you to browse through images of an area. Pay attention to bright colours or interesting buildings. Watch the below video at 2 minutes 30 seconds for a walk-through of these features.
Utilising colour is a great way to make a mundane location look interesting. It can be done easily by utilising colour theories such as direct colour matching or complimentary colours, especially regarding elements such as the location and styling.
Top Tip: Contained Areas
A great tip on using locations is to find a area that includes a lot of different locations, or looks, that are close together. This will help you to provide diversity in your shoot without having to travel far.
Browsing locations on Instagram is a great way to see photographs of an area, similarly to Google Maps explore feature.
A thing to consider when location scouting is how the location might look at different times of the day when the light looks different. For example, will a building block the light at a certain time, or will there be interesting light leaks at other times? There are many apps and websites that you can find that can explore how lighting will fall at different times of the day.
Don’t Get Muddy
Something that I like to consider is whether or not the area is likely to get muddy if the weather took a turn for the worse. You’d probably like to avoid dragging your expensive equipment, and your model, through the mud.
Similarly to the mud, are there areas in your location that can provide shelter if the heavens open?
Another thing that I like to think about in regards to choosing locations, especially in urban areas, are the political implications of graffiti. This is especially important when considering who your client is and if it is on-brand or off-brand to be making a certain social or political implications, with graffiti that might fall into the image.
I hope you’ve found this post interesting and can take away some tips! The concept of location scouting is one that I could talk about forever, because there are constantly new and exciting ways to explore locations and get creative with the way that you utilise them. You can also find me explaining some of these tips further in the video above and the video below.