When shooting outdoors, there are a number of criteria which need to be met in order to make your photoshoot a success. You need a location which is picturesque and which suits the theme and overall look of your photoshoot. You need to have room to set up your equipment and pose your model, as well as enough privacy to carry the shoot out undisturbed. You also need to have the legal right to take pictures there, which can often be overlooked.

Here is how to ensure that you can find a location that matches these criteria every time you need one.

Scout the Local Area

Photo by Joseph Young

Photo by Joseph Young

Sometimes, finding a great location can be as simple as getting in your car and driving around. If you think you already know the area well, then get out and walk. You may be surprised at what you see when you are looking for it.

Whenever you find somewhere that looks promising, there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself before you plan to use it. Is the land a public area, or do you need permission to use it? Is it safe to use it? Is it easy to park nearby? These will help you to assess whether or not it is suitable to use as a location for a portrait shoot. If you need to explore further, you should use the internet to answer your questions.

Use Google and Google Maps

The internet is always your friend, and it can help you find things that you never knew existed. First of all, put your area into Google Maps and scout around. Are there any areas of interest where you can see greenery or something picturesque? Remember to keep your specific needs in mind: for example, if you want to do a water-based photoshoot, spend the time to look for rivers, ponds, and lakes.

You can also search things out by just putting a few keywords into Google. The term “photoshoot location” followed by your area name will help you to bring up at least a few results. You can be inspired by the photographs that others have taken, and you may find land that can be rented out specifically for your purposes. While it’s always nicer to find somewhere you can shoot for free, paying a little could guarantee you a really stunning location. What’s more, you will be sure to get exclusive use of the location during your booked time.

Join Photography Forums

Photo by Roya Ann Miller

Photo by Roya Ann Miller

Photographers love to chat about anything and everything to do with their work. There are a large number of photography forums out there, whether for professionals, amateurs, locals, or internationals. You can join one of these forums in order to ask around about what kind of locations other people use.

If you live in a bigger city area, you never know – you may even find that your question has already been answered and asked for you! The photographers you talk to can show you what the location really looks like, answer any questions about how to use it or how to get there, and tell you about alternatives as well. This will really help you to get the inside scoop on the best locations in your area.

Ask Your Subjects

If you have a client or subject in mind who will be modelling for your portrait session, then you can always ask them if they have anywhere in mind. You might feel that it is unprofessional to admit that you do not know where to go, but try phrasing it as though you are trying to make sure the photoshoot is perfect for their expectations.

If they do not have any ideas, at least you have asked. But if they do have somewhere in mind, your work will be taken care of for you. You can use their ideas as a launch pad, too – if they want to shoot in woodland but don’t know how to get there, you can search around for a wooded area rather than looking at every kind of location with no real ideas.

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Discuss with Local Businesses and Landowners

Photo by Milada Vigerova

Photo by Milada Vigerova

Some of the best locations in your area will inevitably be privately owned. Whether it is a field with no trespassing signs up, an area of private woodland which is fenced off, or just the garden behind a local restaurant, it never hurts to ask.

First of all, you need to find out who owns the land and get their contact details. You may have to search around a bit, and you can always ask local authorities for landowner records if you cannot find any information. Then you can politely get in touch. Email, phone, or face to face meetings might all work, depending on the situation. Explain exactly why you want to shoot on their land, what content you will be shooting, and what they will get out of it (if anything). Prepare to be asked to pay. If you have no budget, you can always offer them images of the land as advertising materials or to take photographs of their family at the same time.

This is a much better idea than simply going on to the land without permission – you might even be charged or fined if you are caught trespassing!

Create Your Own

Finally, if you have your own garden, you might be able to get away with turning it into a photoshoot paradise. Think carefully about what needs to be done. You ideally need a backdrop area which does not include views of your house or any personal objects. The ground should be thought about too: grass is normally going to look better than gravel or stone, for example.

You should try to “dress up” an area of your land so that it is perfectly suited for photoshoots. You will need to make changes now and then, however, to ensure that all of your images do not end up looking the same. You can even introduce seasonal changes to reflect the time of year and to tie in with holiday portraits if your marketing efforts can communicate this to your clients!

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