How to Location Scout
Location Scouting for photography and for film is seemingly one of the biggest hurdles to cross when planning a project. I’m here to tell you it’s as easy as just going out and looking for them.
My very first photo series was Hauntingly Cute which was all done in my hometown of Orange, CA. I started here, even though it was an hour away from school, because I was familiar with it. Plus, I had the resources of my house and backyard. So the first rule of location scouting is simple: Don’t forget your home(town). It’s the easiest access you have, and you are comfortable with it. It’s always good to know about your location: safety issues, if people will bother you, where to go if you need something from a store, etc.
The photo above was done in my backyard. Using smoke bombs as a part of my series was the biggest hinderance. I tried shooting in a local park and the park ranger stopped me because he was scared I was going to burn down the park. This is yet another reason to use your home!
But what if your home isn’t what you’re looking for? You’re backyard is too urban and you want more of a foresty look. This is where I think people freak out. This is where I was freaking out. When searching online for locations, many times I would read about scary things like permits and getting caught by the police! But it should be more than obvious that people who find great locations are more than a little weary to share them online. They are scared of sharing their secrets and scared of taggers finding and trashing their sites. So the next rule of thumb is this: the best locations are the ones you go out and find yourself.
I am constantly looking for nooks and crannies to shoot. Sometimes when driving to a friend’s house I find that there is a great dead-end street with some cool scenery. These are the places that are untouched. These are the places the cops aren’t looking to catch you. However, you still need to be careful of onlooking neighbors!!! Most of the time with popular locations, neighbors are used to seeing photographers and film makers and LOVE busting them. Another reason why finding your own special place is better. Still, be polite to neighbors and onlookers and just be honest with what you’re doing: a fun hobby!
Recently I’ve been looking for some locations to do a simple natural lit fashion shoot for. I was looking for open foresty spaces and cool textured walls with great color. All I had to do was drive around the neighborhood and I was inspired to shoot almost everywhere I went! Here are some examples of photos that I’ve been taking just walking around with my point and shoot camera….
Be sure you keep in mind certain things when location scouting:
1. Are permits required? (usually with parks and public spaces)
2. Is there a lot of traffic? Are people going to pass by and stop you, as well as the cops?
3. Parking! Not only do you have to make sure there is a place for you to park, but also your model and assistants!
4. Lighting and time of day. Some parks will let you roam around and shoot until sundown, so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that locations look different at different times of days!
*TIP: For those of you with smart phones, taking photos with your phone is a great idea not only because you probably always have your phone on you, but smart phones also store the location the photo was taken! Great way to remember where you’ve been!