Thursday, February 26, 2009

Location Location Location...

Something I've been wanting to do for a long time now is to make a location book. The basic idea is to snap reference photos of good backgrounds for photo shoots. Whether it be for a client or just for fun, a book full of possibilities can be inspiring and can help plan the mood of a shoot on a moment's notice.

When I decided to backgrounds as the February Monthly Special I thought it would be the perfect time to finally make a location book. But sadly, what you see pictured above is not my actual book (because there is none) but rather a digital mock-up.

The recipe for a location book is very simple:
  • get a notebook or photo album
  • keep a small point-and-shoot camera with you and snap any good location you find
  • note the address of the location, the direction (or directions) that you would be facing when you take the photo (very important when considering time of day for best lighting), and any other notes that might be helpful
  • print you location photos and add them to your album/notebook along with your notes
So simple and so useful. I must do a real one soon.
With very little planning you can scout out locations during your daily activities. This is what happened just 20 minutes ago:

I decided to stop by Diego's Taco shop for lunch. I had my small point-and-shoot camera in the car. On the way back to work I saw this vibrant blue wall—a great background for an urban portrait. I pulled over, rolled down my window, and took a photo. I wrote the address on the back of a post-it and voilĂ ! A location.

Ideally, I would always keep my camera in my car (or pocket) and take a photo of possible locations. It is so easy to get in a rut. I can't tell you how many photo shoots I have done at what is called "The castle"—an old amphitheater with beautiful stone and various natural settings. It's nice, but it would be so much more fun to have 100 choices and pick (or if it's a client, let them pick) one that best suits the desired style.

By noting the direction that I would be facing when taking the photo, I avoid getting there and having everyone squinting into direct sunlight. Other notes will remind me of the general feel of the area, location fees (if applicable), etc.

You don't need to be a pro to have your own location book. Family photos will be so much easier with a book of choices.

Finally, I highly recommend taking a shot of the location all by itself. The reason? The photo becomes a blank canvas rather than something you associate with only one type of portrait.

I hope this inspires some of you to start your own location book. I know that I now plan to keep my camera ready for any new spots.