A big step of the photo session process is choosing a location. Your background affects your clothing, posing, and the overall feel of your photos. If you’re on the hunt for a spot for your photo shoot and feeling a little overwhelmed, I have some general guidelines to help you out.
1. Choose a place that reflects your personality
This is my #1 most important tip. Think about what inspires you, what excites you, and what calms you. Do you like rivers, forests, or downtown? Consider places with sentimental meaning or that showcase your hobbies or style. Your photos are about you, so your location should be too.
What stories do you want to share? Choose your stories first then use that to drive your location choice. Think about what you enjoy doing. Do you have a favorite weekend brunch spot? Let’s shoot there. If you love to go on hiking adventures, then make your session about that. Rather than shooting where everybody and their dog has their photos taken, let’s make your session about you and what you love to do!
Where do you feel comfortable? You want your portraits to show you at your best. Choose a location that helps you feel happy, relaxed, and where you can be yourself.
Begin brainstorming and I bet you’ll come up with some great location ideas! The possibilities are endless, but here are some fun ideas to start the ball rolling:
Your favorite skyline
A beach by the lake
The place where he/she proposed
Where you first met
Downtown urban session
2. Match your clothing to your location
A business suit at a beach or a ball gown at Starbucks are probably not the look you’re going for. If you want an outdoorsy feel, choose your favorite hike and head to the mountains with plaid, hiking boots, and a jacket. If you want something romantic, consider a flowy dress that will move in the wind and find a windy beach or field.
3. Avoid the crowds
That great mountain view will draw a lot of people. Downtown streets are often filled with downtowners. While crowds can make for interesting movement in photos, you may have a random stranger photobomb your gorgeous portrait (or have several taking selfies in the background). This can be avoided by choosing less popular destinations or going at less crowded times.
4. Aim for variety
You don’t want a bunch of portraits in the exact same place. Try to find a spot that offers several different scenes within a 5 minute walk to change up the look. This could mean alleys, colorful doorways, and brick walls; or it could be mountains, a stream, and tall grass.
5. See if you need a permit to shoot in a location
Super important! Some places charge a fee and others only require a permit. It can take weeks to get the permit approved, so plan ahead. Google “photography permits” and the location name.
Whatever location you choose, remember: photos should be fun. This is your session and totally unique to you. Feel free to bring out a bit of your quirky side.
Happy location finding!
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