Advice for scouting for family photo sessions
I spend most of my time photographing people outdoors, and am often asked by other photographers where and how I find my locations for family photo sessions. Yes, “location, location, location” is very important but I also want to illustrate that the key to successful outdoor photography is about more than just finding the right space.
Here are my top tips for how to find, and to get the best from a new outdoor location:
1. Consider your travel time.
This is one of the most important factors for me. For reasons which will become clear as you read further down this post, I like to be able to get to the location quickly, ideally no more than a 15-minute drive. I photograph in Hertfordshire, which does have a lot of green space close by, but I have discovered many hidden gems by taking my time to really explore. There are a couple of great ways to get you started:
a) Google Maps. Just type your postcode to see an aerial view of your surrounding area. If you look at the bottom of the map, you will see that Google maps are also now linked to Photosphere. This means you can see images of local sites taken by other people from all over the web. Clever stuff hey?
This does exactly what it says on the tin, it shows you spots which are great to photograph from, and again all you need to do is enter your postcode. It uses information from sites like Flickr and Panoramio to build up an idea of which areas of the country are the best for photography. It divides the sites into Urban, Wildlife, and Landscape and features images taken by other amateur and professional photographers.
2. Take time to get to know your location..back to school!
Yes, I know it doesn’t sound like fun, but successful outdoor photography comes from doing your homework: knowing your location and the light inside out. This goes back to my earlier point of having a location which is close to where you live. I visit my locations at all times of day, all times of year, and I now know them like the back of my hand. Of course it’s ideal to photography families in golden hour, but this isn’t always possible because of the unpredictable UK weather and young children’s early bed times. You need to be able to work your location to its best when there’s light rain, bright mid-day sun, or no leaves on the trees. Yes, it takes time to get to know a location this way BUT your clients, and you, will benefit.
Here is a recent example from my bluebell sessions. These photos were taken within 10 feet of one another, but one was early morning and the other was mid-afternoon. The position of the sun had changed so I had to change where I placed my subjects and myself.
These examples are at the same location but at a different times of year. If trick is to know where the light is the best and know at what time of day you should be photographing.
3. Have a plan to deliver a variety of images.
As with most photographers, I like to present my clients with a wide variety of images to choose from. This doesn’t mean hundreds of photos, but a set of images which have very different backgrounds, whilst still remaining cohesive. I find it really important to have a number of different options at one location, which are within a reasonable distance of one another (with families I consider this no more than 5 to 10 minutes walking especially if they have small children). As I have done my homework, and know where the light is good at what time of day, I follow a pre-determined route which I know will deliver 5/6 different looks. I also share this with the family to manage their expectation of how much walking will be involved.
Happy location hunting 🙂
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Nina also offers 1-2-1 business and marketing mentoring for aspiring or new photographers, for more details visit here https://www.ninamacephotography.com/mentoring/