Location FTW! / by Brenda (Hartshorn) Licitra

Location, location, location...
and weather, and light, and gear, and subject, and talent....

It's true, location is extremely important when it comes to being successful sometimes, but there are a lot of factors that photographers need to be sensitive to. But yes, your photo shoot can't happen if you don't have a place to take the photos.  A location may seem simple, but there are some big factors that you need to consider.  

our on location to do list: 

  1. Mother, may I? Even if you have a favorite spot that you've shot a hundred times, always-always make sure to clear that place with the necessary officials as rules can change, there might be an event, or there could even be construction going on that would interfere with your shoot.
  2. Know your client! Make sure to accommodate for any special needs that your client might have. If you're taking a family photo, grandma may not be able to walk to that great spot you have in mind.  Baby photos? Unless the parents want a photo of their kid sleeping, make sure that you don't schedule the photos to be taken during the kid's nap time.
  3. Mother of nature... After you've got everything cleared, grab your favorite cup-o-caffeine and take a walk through to verify there aren't any other environmental factors. This morning I went to the UOP to find a very lovely "Caution, Bee Swarm" sign at one of the places on campus. This could have posed a slight problem for asking people to hold still and smile when there's a swarm of bees on the move.
  4. Type of client. Are you taking commercial photos with models or is it a family portrait?  
    1. If you're taking family photos, you need to be more concern about everyone's comfort. Weather can play a huge factor in a client's comfort level and even can pose possible health risks. My scheduled time for my photo shoot was originally for the late afternoon, however we got hit with unseasonably early hot weather this weekend (104 in the shade! *gasp*) I decided it would be best to reschedule (1 day in advanced) because I had serious concerns that the great-great grandma could have a heat stroke. Perfect lighting is not worth your subjects getting sick.  
    2. If you're working with models, they are use to dealing with being cold and hot a lot more than the average person.  Looking good despite environmental factors is kinda part of their job, although you should try to be as accommodating as possible.  Your makeup artist should always be watching to jump in to take care of the model when needed as well.
  5. Roll with the punches!  After you've taken the above factors into consideration, your original idea/plan may have changed. Don't let that discourage you. As a photographer, you need to be able to have solutions for all lighting conditions.  Make sure you have enough gear with you to be able to adjust to whatever challenges that may arise.  When my photo shoot got moved to 11am, I needed to take the steps needed to work with the horrible mid-day sun.  I stuck the group under the trees, blew out the background, and pointed a flash at a gold reflector to kick some warmth into the photo.  Simple, quick, and effective.

Happy Scouting!