On-location Scouting Tips for Photography

Scouting a location for a photo shoot can improve your images as well as your client’s experience.  This step allows you to identify certain areas to focus on and arrive with a general idea of the images that you want to create.  Physically visiting a location is ideal, but not always possible.  When this happens online research is the next best thing.  The tips below also apply to anyone looking to photograph their own family or event.  Here are some quick tips on what information I gather during a scouting session.

  • Travel to the location and parking.  How easy is it and are there key details needed to find the location.  Most of the time I will plug the location into Google Maps app on my phone.  I will also cross reference the directions provided on the designated locations website.  You want your client to arrive to the location without any problems/frustration so providing information on any current road work, landmarks and where to park are appreciated.
  • Size of location.  If the location has many gathering points, like at a public garden, finding a meeting spot is helpful.  Once you and your client are at the designated meeting spot, you can travel to your first backdrop for photos.
  • Favorite Backdrops.  I look for and take photos of different areas for potential shoots.  I take a portrait and landscape image and if I really like a spot I will capture different angles.  In the example below I used my iPhone 6 to capture these shots.  I rarely find the need to take out professional gear for the purposes of the scouting session.  During the photo shoot I concentrate on a few, not all, vignettes I find.  I tailor the session and location to fit my client’s needs.
  • Same location, different season. Living in New England, each season can drastically transform a location.  If possible, visiting a favorite location throughout the year can offer different perspectives on the same location.
  • Reference list. There are many ways to store all the information you gather
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    Example of Evernote App

    from a scouting trip and I have recently started using the Evernote App.
    You can create “notebooks” for example “Photography Scouting” and attached photos and notes to each item.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section, I would love to hear from you.


In the meantime here are some images from my latest scouting trip to the Wadsworth Mansion Middletown, CT.




Back of Mansion



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