~a few images taken while on a recent location scout~

Where the snow has finally all melted and the sun is slowly starting to come out, I have begun to plan some on-location model shoots. Now don’t get me wrong you can do some very cool stuff in the winter, but this past winter I wanted to focus more on my studio work. I worked with different types of lighting and did a lot of experimenting.

I set up a small studio in the basement of my home and made due with what I had. I by no means have any sort of huge space. The ceiling is low, there is a support beam right in the middle of the room that I often ran into, and my backdrop just fits in between my washer/dryer and my storage area. It isnt’t the prettiest thing in the world but I made it work. In the stairway leading down I have 4-5 prints hanging on the wall of shots that had been done in there. As I would take the models down I would always prepare them by saying that “it’s not the prettiest studio in the world, but all these images were done in here” and it would ease them into it. It would give them an idea of what can be done with the space. If it was the model’s first time in front of the camera I would do the first look without anyone else around to get them comfortable with me and the camera. We would usually do 3-5 different looks in a shoot to try and get as much in as possible, which was a great idea until it came time to edit. Needless to say editing tended to take a bit of time. Once the first look was done I would then bring the hair, makeup and stylist people down just in case they needed to adjust anything. Having now worked with a hair stylist, makeup artist and a clothing stylist I would never go back to working without at least 2 of them. They are in-valuable when it comes to doing these types of shoots, and bring their own ideas and creative energy. The difference they make in my images is truly appreciated, and I know I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do without the great team of people I work with. But now I am ready to get out of the studio and to do on-location work, which means I need to take time and do some location scouting.

A week or so ago I set out on a drive in search of interesting places to shoot. I actually do this a lot with photography, I love just hopping in the car with my wife and my puppy and going driving for hours, stopping every time I see something I want to photograph. We’ll often drive to a place of interest, park the car, and walk to explore further. What’s great about all the times I’ve spent shooting landscapes and hunting for new places to shoot, is that it gives me some great spots to shoot portraits. But I always want more.

I mentioned in my last post about looking at photographer’s work and getting discouraged. Well, lately I’ve really been analyzing locations that portrait photographers use. Sometimes you’ll see these amazing locations and think “only if I lived in these amazing places I could take these great photos”. Sure it’s easy to look at these amazing scapes in Italy, France and all the different places that are foreign to us, and chalk it up to the cities, but the real beauty in these locations is finding something unique and interesting within them. Just because you find a big expansive location and stick a model in it doesn’t mean it will make a compelling photo. It’s finding the particulars & angles in that location that will do that.

With so many behind the scenes videos available now, you can often get a look at locations used for these types of shoots. Sometimes it is the most simplistic spot within a location that a photographer chooses. It is that keen sense of knowing what will be the most appealing that separates them from the rest. Also knowing what type of lighting and posing should be used to take advantage of those locations. I recently saw some behind the scenes photos by photographer Lara Jade where she used a small fountain and some ivy on a wall. If you look at the entire location it would be easy to overlook these particulars. She knew that using the intricacies of the location would be what would create the most interesting images. So while I was out I tried to look for locations that would lend themselves to multiple uses, and multiple looks, trying to make the most out of them. I’m happy to say I found some very exciting stuff, and some of them in places that were very familiar to me. The other thing that happened is that parts of these locations lended themselves to some great landscape images and I was able to add to my HDR work.

I plan on sharing more images from shoots on the blog. As they are shot I’ll be sure to post about them. Make sure you bring your camera when scouting (sounds obvious, but some don’t) frame the images as you think you will shoot them. Make sure you explore all aspects of a location, the place you choose could make or break an image. Above all, be extremely picky.

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