Scouting Locations

August 12, 2018

Today's topic comes from a reader named David.  Thanks for the topic David!

There are a few things I look for when I scout a location, one being the availability of shade, and interesting backgrounds.  For city photography you look for buildings that provide shade that have an interesting skyline or neat buildings behind them.  If there are no available shaded spots but the background is interesting, I check for the position of the sun for the time of day I shoot.  You will generally have an easier time photographing your subject if you place the sun to their back.  This creates even lighting on their face, they wont have to squint because the light isn't directly hitting their face, and creates a natural hair light, which will give their hair a pleasing glow. 

 Finding a location also requires some leg work.  I've was recently part of an online discussion about photographers giving out their locations to people and I am of the opinion that there are locations that I just don't share.  It's not to be mean or not to try and prevent another photographer from one upping me.  It's simply because that photographer did nothing to find that location no matter how public it is.  Some of the excuses I read from people saying they don't have time to scout working a full time job.  Well I can tell you all that I work a full time job that provides me with benefits and 401k, but I also do photography full time.  I still make time for my family and make time to scout locations for shoots.  Scouting is a very vital part of doing photography.  To me it says that the photography lacks the motivation to do their profession well, if they don't make time to scout locations.  Scouting for me begins with a simple question.  What scene am I looking for?  Most of the time it is something natural, so I pull up google map and look at the places around me on satellite.  This way I can see on the map which way I would need to face in order to get that nice golden light of sunset, or what direction the model would need to face depending on the time of day.  Nebraska specifically has a number of other resources like our Games and Parks website.  They list out every park in the state by county, and they have a map feature that shows where the parks are.  Take an hour (depending on the drive) out of your day and just explore what ever park you pull up and look for a few spots that look interesting.  Bring your camera along, just to get an idea of what framing would look like through your lens.  Using this method, I've found a wide variety of spots in Nebraska from sunflower fields to a beaches, and they are all on public land.  Once you have scouted out a few locations, don't be afraid to take different angles once you start shooting.  Shooting low can create some unique looking shots, as can shooting high.

 

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