Part of the fun for me being a 100% on location natural light photographer is that my locations are constantly changing.
Yes, I have my ‘go-to’ locations for those not wanting to do in home indoor/outdoor sessions or who are looking for something a little different for their shoots. Bottom line? Location is key for what you are trying to capture with a child or family.
Location, location, location!
From urban shoots to ‘forest-like’ gorgeous green backgrounds, to a small space in an apartment to a small field on the side of the road, the world is ripe with location choices.
First up in the location series, scouting for locations.
1| Stop. Look. Picture.
I am notorious for driving by a small patch of green with interesting foliage and returning to that spot the next day with my daughter to take test shots. If you are mainly a children’s photographer, remember this when scouting locations: your subjects are generally ‘little’ people. So they do not need a sprawling meadow for every shoot. You can take a small patch of green with some wild flowers and no one would know the difference. Look at these pull aways of a ‘location’ shoot I did a few months ago with my daughter. I discovered this bit o’ sunshine on a walk with my dog. Sure, it’s literally a ‘double line street, side of the road’ spot. Our town pool is right there and a lovely metal fence, but would you ever know it from these images? The biggest part of scouting and photographing in general is to open your eyes to the light and possibility. I saw the slight hill and how the sun was coming up over it- the tall grass (unkempt I should say), a gravel road leading literally to nowhere. I knew when I got her there it would be a gorgeous light set up.
2| The Power of the internet.
Two words: Google Maps. Seriously, if we all had wings and could fly overhead scouting various locations, well that would be simply divine. Obviously we don’t, but we can however, still look at locations 1/2 hour away from us within mere seconds. Go to ‘learn’ once you access Google Maps.
Here’s a Google Maps shot of one of my most favorite streets in the West Village in NYC. Jane Street. You can literally ‘walk’ up and down the street with the arrows finding great pockets to photograph in.
I love scouting out the nooks and crannies of Downtown NY on Google Maps to find little location gems to photograph clients. And you can ‘scout’ when it’s even raining out.. bonus!
3| Living on the Edge.
As much as I’d love to, I literally do not have time to scout out a client’s home ‘pre-shoot.’ 90% of the time, I walk in sight unseen and determine the best locations in and outside of their home by looking for the light (more on that in Part 3 of the series). For outside, try to not get caught up in having to have the ‘perfect’ set up. I photographed this image in the middle of the parking lot for their complex. I adored the way the sun (see there goes that light sensor again!) was filtering through the trees and almost creating a magical forest-like feel. No one needed to know what lie beyond those trees (parked cars- nothing a little cloning here and there couldn’t fix!)
As you begin to train your eye to scout locations and use Google Maps, the world becomes a little less intimidating to make any location work for your clients and subjects.
Coming Up Next Week: Determining the best location for your subject and location ideas.
Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman, owner of JellyBean Pictures is a die-hard, natural light, lifestyle photographer in New York who loves to search for the light. Like her on Facebook and follow her blog to continue being inspired by her beautiful work!