Today I drove around town for about 2 hours looking for locations to photograph this Thursday for an engagement session. It’s a normal thing for me to do this. I enjoy it and it really helps me see locations differently and get some unique and fun places to shoot. While I was driving I was thinking about how many hours I have spent driving around the valley and how it has been so great finding little holes in the walls to shoot. I hate shooting at the same location over and over again.
Finding locations to shoot isn’t always easy. I live in an area where there is not a lot of green grass; we have plenty of cactus and desert areas, but almost everywhere you turn it is private property and pavement. It kinda sucks that there aren’t a lot of rolling green hills around here and I love it when I get to go to locations like that, but even then I scout. I’m always trying to find something unique and different.
I get a lot of emails from photographers asking me where I took so and so’s pictures and sometimes they ask for EXACT locations.. Many times I just email back and tell them that they need to find locations for themselves. Of course I will give general areas, but I really don’t feel like it helps photographers grow if i tell them EXACTLY where to shoot. Most of my best pictures come from walking or driving around for hours to find the PERFECT location. I see the shot before I even pick up my camera and know generally what I am going to do there. Even on a shoot i’m scouting and looking for different areas and light. It’s what makes photography exciting and creative.
I truly believe in scouting and finding your own locations. I feel it will make you a better photographer and also make your clients feel good knowing that you worked hard to find them the perfect location. Take the time to drive around. Look at places differently than you have before. Think outside of the box and have fun coming up with places that you normally wouldn’t shoot. Don’t rely on other photographers to tell you where to go, but hunt it out for yourself.
That being said, be respectful. We don’t want to be walking all over people’s private property and ruining beautiful locations. Photographers have a bad name in some locations because they have not respected the areas that they are shooting. Get permission and build relationships with people.
Lastly, if a photographer isn’t willing to share with you where they are shooting at, don’t get upset, get creative. Go hunt it out for yourself and you might just find the coolest new location. Thank them for making you think out of the box and making you a better photographer.
If you ever see an aimless crazy driver pulling off to the side and holding her cell phone out window to take a shot of nothing, it might be me….. so feel free to wave, honk, and try to figure out what I’m seeing!!