Create Your List of Portrait Locations

Developing a short list of favorite portrait locations is a terrific asset in your photography arsenal, especially when a potential subject asks, "So, where should we shoot it?" I just read a helpful article at Digital Photography School titled, How to Scout for Portrait Shooting Locations that provides good food for thought.

Model at Fog City Diner
Outside Fog City Diner in San Francisco.

Based on my experience, here are a few additional tips that I've found useful:

  • Keep things close. Exotic locations might be fun conceptually, but time is always a factor to consider. I have locations that are as close as 2 minutes away, and most are within an hour's driving distance.
  • Comfort is important. Is there a place to change clothes or visit the restroom? Not every setting will have these options, but you should have a few "comfortable locations" for those subjects who need them.
  • Safety First. You're probably not going to get very good shots if your subject is concerned for his/her safety. Avoid the bad side of town.
  • Lighting, lighting, lighting. Know the light at different times of day and year at your favorite spots. Some will be great morning shoots, others best in the afternoon.

And if you really get this organized, you might want to have examples of your favorite spots on your mobile phone. That way you can show the subject what you're thinking as you're making plans.

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I have a few favorite locations that I rely on and a few basic types of clients. Thankfully, the locations are suitable enough to work with them. I can vary the exact spot within each location, of course, so it works out well enough not to look stale.

Yeah, it's interesting Scott, that by moving a little to the right, or a little to the left, in the same location, can give you an entirely different look.