3 things I'm looking for when location scouting
When looking for the perfect location to take family or couples photos, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind. You'll want to find a spot that is public, provides a beautiful backdrop with the sun in the right spot, and has plenty of open sky. Read on to find out more about the three things I look for when location scouting!
Look for public land when location scouting
Google Maps is a great resource for finding locations for photography, and this is where I usually start to look. But once I find a spot that I think might work, I will check to see if the land is public or private. Depending on where you live, this might be done in different ways. I live in the United States so I use an app called OnXHunt, which is supposed to be for hunters to find hunting spots, but it shows if land is public or private and who owns it. It has helped me a ton!
Is the sun in the right spot for sunset?
I usually schedule sessions at sunset so I am always thinking in terms of where the sun would be while searching for locations. I know it sets in the west, so I am looking for spots where the sun might be behind some trees, with some open sky to the east of them. But I love if the location also has a wide-open area without trees so I can utilize the sun for the last 20-30 minutes up until it sets. I also use the terrain setting on Google Maps to see what the elevation is. That way, you can see if there will be a mountain blocking the sun in the wrong spot. I like locations that are higher up so the sun can be out for longer.
Is there a good amount of open sky at the location?
Photographers sometimes make the mistake of not thinking about the light while location scouting. If you are shooting deep in a forest, that means there is no open sky to reflect back onto your subjects. This will be a recipe for unflattering shadows, raccoon eyes, and dull skin. I never shoot in areas like this. I am looking for spots where my clients can be facing the open sky, so they will be nicely lit. If the sun is out, then it is typically behind them, but if it's overcast then I will want the sun(or where it would be if it weren't covered by clouds) behind me.
Here are a few additional tips to help you find the perfect location for your next photo session:
1. Search online - Use Google Maps or another online mapping service to find potential locations. Sometimes I just use my Apple maps!
2. Ask around - Talk to people who live in the area and see if they have any suggestions. I have asked a woman walking her dog once if she knew of any spots that got flowers in spring and she gave me an awesome spot!
3. Check out location databases - There are many online databases that list potential locations for hiking, photography, and more. Places like AllTrails or the R.G.P.S app.
4. Visit the location in person - Once you've narrowed down your choices, it's always a good idea to visit the location in person to make sure it's actually good. Sometimes there's a fence that you didn't know was there, an unfortunately placed building, or a mountain that is totally blocking the sun.
Some examples of great locations for photography:
1. Parks and nature reserves
2. Historic buildings and landmarks
3. Rivers and streams
4. Beaches and coastline
5. Mountains and hillsides
6. Forests and woods
7. Gardens and flower farms
I hope you found these location scouting for photographers tips helpful and that they will guide you in your search for the perfect location. If you're looking for more information on shooting at golden hour, be sure to download my free guide to Golden Hour Photography. It will help you learn what to do in 4 different lighting scenarios at sunset (or sunrise). I include a before and after for each scenario, my camera settings, plus some tips to help your photos turn out amazing! Enjoy!
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