Why You Should Location Scout Before a Shoot

Once you’ve secured your model, makeup artist and stylist for a shoot there is one crucial element that is left to consider: Location, Location, Location. The place in which you use as your setting and backdrop of your images greatly impacts and effects the story you hope to tell. So, how exactly do you determine the best place for your project? The answer – location scouting.

Photo by Max Rainoldi

What is Location Scouting?

Location scouting is the process of searching for a place to shoot prior to the day of your project. In an informal situation, you may meet your team in a generalized area and walk around as you shoot. Although this can work in some cases, the professional norm is to have your locations chosen and carefully selected beforehand. Locations should represent the storyline of your images, aiding in your vision as well as adding to the overall theme and visual appeal. For some projects, the type of clothing or product can drive the choice of location. A perfect example is swimwear, where most shoots are done in tropical elements such as at the beach, in a coastal city or by the pool. Yet, for many other projects, your choice of location can be determined by your personal creative vision or a client’s preference. Either way, finding the location will set the scene for your work. So now that we understand the process of location scouting, let’s talk about the best ways to find a location.

Photo by Max Rainoldi

How to Find the Perfect Location

Finding a location for your shoot can come from several factors as mentioned above such as the intended focus of the project, your personal vision or the direction given to you by a client. There are several methods to employ when looking for a location.

Photo by Max Rainoldi

Find Your Location by Exploring

If you’re aiming to shoot outside, the best way to find your backdrop is by exploring. Whether you’re searching for a location within nature, a cityscape or even a remote, hidden area that may be off the path – the best way to find the secret nooks of a place is by walking or driving through a town. For example, you may know that you want to shoot at the beach, yet you want to be out of the public’s eye and in a more secluded area. It won’t be until you explore the coast that you will find the beach access, full of clear blue water and glistening sand. The prime photo locations are always found hidden in plain sight.

Photo by Jennifer Medina

Use Online Marketplaces for Location Scouting

In some cases, shooting within a specific location can prove to be beneficial and conducive for a project. If you’re shooting a project with a bigger team, various outfit changes and with an overall set vision – using a unique space, that isn’t a standard studio, can aid in effortless production and execution. There are a handful of quality and interesting spaces that can be rented out for hours or by the day for your project using websites such as Peerspace. Peerspace offers locations for photo shoots in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Atlanta within the United States as well as Berlin, London and Paris within Europe. You can find industrial spaces, interesting apartments, beautiful homes and more through searching on their website. Each space has descriptions of what they offer as well as hourly and daily rates. Check out Peerspace here.

Photo by Jennifer Medina

Location Referrals Within Your Network

The last tip to mention about finding your ideal location is to employ the recommendations from creatives within your network. Other industry professionals will be happy to offer their ideas and insight into areas where you should shoot. For example, a photographer who has also shot in Midtown, Manhattan may be able to give you some tips on where to land the best shot without too much interference. It is important to note that when seeking insight, you should be honest with your plans for a shoot. Never ask for location advice with the intent to replicate a shoot you already saw. Aim for unique and genuine creativity, capturing your own perspective within the location. As long as you adhere to this, don’t be wary of asking your friends and colleagues for location tips – more times than not, a fellow photographer understands the process and will be willing to help.

Photo by Jennifer Medina

Have any other tips on finding your ideal shooting location? Have you ever used sites like Peerspace for a shoot? Let us know your experience with location scouting in the comments below.

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