SCOUT OUT A LOCATION FOR PORTRAIT OR FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY
Scouting out a location on a recce in photography is essential. Take into account what it is you are trying to achieve what is the end goal and the overall look and does it meet the client’s needs or just yours?. For me, the location has almost been more important for me than the subject!!!. It can inspire and help achieve greater impact from your images and this is my preferred way of working mainly working away in other counties this is a lot easier but in the UK especially within the cities these days it’s a problem. You need permissions and permits. It creates a simple shoot that turn into a complicated problem. Sometimes it’s ok but as soon as the tripod comes out then you are in a world of confusion.
When I work with clients on location it’s a different approach. My shoots to the European countries visited in the last few years have been made up of over 15 locations and normally my clients will have already made a choice as to the country and the locations in general.
My role as a photography scout normally kicks in when I get to the main location, such as the latest big shoot in Iceland. At the location, I really am in my element as it allows my mind to search and find so many variations on a theme. I look for ideas for shooting over a few days collecting a selection of locations suitable to place models I then scout around within these areas and then document my process during the day. I take transfer these later to my MacBook and then present my ideas and proposals for the shoot over the locations with the relevant models and then the days. It allows us to completely tie the mood board together and finalise the shoot planning.
HOW TO RESEARCH LOCATIONS WITHOUT AN ACTUAL LIVE RECCE
If your client can’t afford or don’t see the benefit to a location scouting day or days, then you have other ways to go about this and listed below are my tried on tested ways of doing an ONLINE RECCE or LOCATION SCOUT. All of them are equally as good and allows you to create your location mood board and present it back to your client.
Own Recce or Scouting
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS ONCE YOU HAVE YOUR LOCATION
CONSIDER THE TIME OF DAY FOR YOUR LOCATION
Once you have an idea of the location images you want to shoot, it’s worth considering the best time of day. Golden hour at either end of the day provides great light. Being active in the day and understanding how the light is moving around you and your subject will allow you to plan your location in a location. How the shadows and the shade moves should fit in with your timing and plan to capture the models. There is nothing worse than having the best space saved until last but then the light is not there and you have to make do.
There are many tools available to help you research and plan your photos. Lighttrac is useful if you have an iPhone.
MAKE SURE YOUR LOCATION IS SUITABLE TO THE LOOK
Just because you love the location doesn’t mean that it fits within the style of the shoot so at all times keep in mind the relevance of the clothing and location. This is really important in making your images authentic and relevant. I loved industrial and urban and tried to get clients to fall in love with this too. If a client trusts you great but when those images get back to them it’s easy to get it wrong. Mood boards solve this. Sometimes at the location, you may have seen something that looks great and out of keeping with the overall style. Trying to capture this will lose your shooting time and the pressure will be on to get more.
In Iceland, I did a complete day of shooting what was planned the night before. I slightly deviated and not one of three looks were used and I had to play catch up the other days and when shooting 24 looks in 10 days. Pressure is on
WORKING THE LOCATION – GETTING THE BEST FROM ALL
Ok so you’re into the shoot, the client is happy and you have ht all the plans, this is when you can explore your location. Even though you have signed off for the looks agreed o, I will always offer other options. Get the once agreed shot in the back in good time then you have time to experiment with the look and the location. It is these shots that often get chosen. The client is not expecting these but when they see the finished look they wish to use them and many from my Iceland campaign were not required until after they had seen my interpretation of the brief.
Try to get time out fo the day and to allow you free time on each look to get another version – your version and work that location until it has nothing left to give!
WORKING THE LIGHT – MAKE IT WORK & ADD IF YOU NEED TO
The light changes obviously and on a normal location shoot you may have many hours to work, In Iceland, this was not the case. The days were very short and very dark with cool blue hues and wind with rain squalls. The light was very low and changeable but you have to learn to adapt or to add. I choose to add light to my locations.
If I was in LA shooting in the sun or in Spain then this would not be a problem, reflectors and shooting into the light is good, but understanding the light which is around you is key to getting the best from your location and your shoot
WORKING WITH THE WEATHER – DONT LET IT GET YOU DOWN
Weather is sometimes an issue and the fact that brands go on location means one of two things, to find exciting backgrounds but also to beat the weather especially here in the UK. Sometimes you can be a super location but the weather just doesn’t work for you.!!
ICELAND is a prime example of weather that has its own agenda. The weather would change in an instant from the sun to wind, rain, and then hail. THE CLIENT with you is not expecting excuses only solutions and as a photographer, you have to be able to deal with the weather and all it throws at you.
The truth is not every shoot goes as planned, if the weather is bad or unreliable you have to have contingency plans. Work your looks up in rainy or cloudy weather. Peter Lindbergh was a master of this. His pictures on location were mainly shot within a light tent to control his lighting but also outside on cloudy days.
Learn to work with the weather and you will get along. You cant always pray for bright sunny days. Just think on your feet and read the signs and plan for the days that are not good. Add a light or two to counter this and create a theatrical effect or use your camera settings to get a balance