How to choose a location | Gilbert Family Photographer

Friday, April 19, 2013

Selecting a location for your session is probably one of the biggest worries for families when hiring a photographer.  That, and picking out their wardrobe.

Here's my honest opinion, when you hire a photographer you are also paying for their opinion in selecting the location that will offer good lighting, details within the location to compliment the pictures, and add style to the session as these pictures will be displayed throughout the client's home.

A photographer will use a location to fit the mood of their session and be consistent with their style.  I'm fortunate that I have a few fellow photographers in my area that we shared a location or two with each other. There is one particular location that all 4 of us have used and each of us have used it differently.  Different in the way that it doesn't even look like we've used the same location.  Each of us have our own way of using light, textures in the setting and style of photography.

Majority of the locations I use for my clients are areas that I've scouted for.  Definitely not the safest thing, but every time I'm driving I have my eye on the areas I'm driving by and looking for potential locations.  I look at the details in an area, how the light comes in and how an area can be used in multiple ways to achieve different looks.  And, there have been times when I've dragged my kids along with me to walk a location.  Some locations I think have major potential...but as I walk around it, I'm just not seeing anything that makes my mind spin creatively.    For me, selecting a location is trial and error.  Sometimes, I find fabulous locations and other's a total bust.  I remember specifically a friend and I driving to a location that was far from my home that I thought had awesome potential.  We got to the location, walked it and it was NOTHING like I envisioned it would be.   IT was a total bust but that is just a small price to pay for the little hidden gems I have found through this trial and error process.

When a client schedules a session, the first thing they usually say is I have no idea where to have the session.  And that is totally my job to offer potential locations. The only problem I have is offering samples of a location.  Why? Because how I use a location for one client most definitely will not be how I use the location for another client.  Clients can vary from being more conservative to carefree casual. When I share sample sessions with a client, I encourage them to look through the samples while looking at the details within the location  and to be openminded to have that location used completely different for their session.   Along with utilizing a location different for each session, the light at a location can change very easily based on the how much light is available.   Further down in this post, I'm sharing three sessions from one location in which the light is different in each session.  

After 6 years in photography, I'm thrilled that the majority of my clients just tell me to pick the location and to give them directions, without needing to see a sample.  That complete and utter trust in my selection is what gets me happy, makes my mind spin creatively in finding a fun location and just humbles me in their trust.  Now of course, before I select a location, I do ask my clients what type of location they are most drawn to and give them descriptive words to select from to help me in the selection process.

When I choosing an area for a session, I specifically choose it based on how often I've used the location to ensure I haven't used it too frequently out of respect to the owners. I also express nothing but extreme gratitude to the property owners for their generousity and trust in allowing me and my clients on their property, along with sharing that we will have the utmost respect while on their property in noise level, cleaning up after ourselves and using safety.

One more location topic, there have been times that a location selected wasn't going to work for the session. It's imperative when choosing a location to have a backup area available for any unforeseen reasons.  Recently I had a location selected for a session and when I arrived to the location early, I found the terrain had completely changed for the bad and I can't fail to mention the detailed homes built with random blankets, boxes and shoes that I couldn't shoot around and wouldn't make for interesting details in a session.  Thankfully, I had a backup location that was a mile away that we drove to. 

And on that note, here is one of the little hidden gems that I absolutely love.  Of course the pictures do NO justice to how fabulous this location is but here it is in little snapshots.  
And below is how this location was used for two sessions, on the same day but at different times.  These sessions weren't actually scheduled for this location, however, I discovered at the last minute that the original location became unavailable.  Believe me, I was stressed to the max when I discovered that unforeseen detail.  
Here is a session used at the same location, on an overcast afternoon.  
Here it is, my second Friday blog post on photography.  Let's see how next Friday goes...