The Do’s and Don’ts Of Scouting Outdoor Session Locations

scouting outdoor session locations to meet your clients at for their session becomes easier and easier as you learn what things to look for and what things to avoid.  while your clients or subjects are the focus of your session, the location that you choose plays a very big role in the feel of the photos.  choosing urban locations may work better for your client’s personality, while soft parks full of nature may be better for other clients.  some of this will be knowing what type of location or scene fits your client best, while also knowing what attributes to look for and what to avoid when scouting locations.

what to dive a little deeper into session locations?  here are 5 tips for scouting outdoor photography locations.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Scouting Outdoor Session Locations

The Do's and Don'ts of Scouting Outdoor Session Locations | Bethadilly Photography

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1.  Do : Bring Your Camera Along

it is important that you bring your camera along with you as you are scouting outdoor session locations.  at you are critiquing a location, be sure to take some test shots with your camera to make sure the light and surrounding elements are photographing well.  i like to take a variety of photos throughout my initial walk around the location, both to test out the light and to also remind myself of areas that i found great to take the client back to.

2.  Don’t : Locations With Visible Playground Equipment

playground equipment has the potential to ruin your photography session before it even starts.  let me tell you, when children see playgrounds their eyes focus on the slide and angels starting singing in their heads.  once they see it, they can’t unsee it.  if you are doing a session with small clients, be sure you avoid locations with visible playground equipment because it will be a negative distraction during your session.  your younger clients will be more focused on the thought of playing on the swings and less focused on cooperating with your vision.  unless playing on swings is what you are going for…but most likely it isn’t.

3.  Do : Be Aware of Location Hours

while scouting outdoor session locations, you may come across locations that have hours.  most of the time, the hours won’t affect you but during summer months when it gets lighter earlier and stays light later, you may want to be aware of park hours that could interfere with scheduling.

4.  Don’t : Locations with High Traffic

when i say traffic, i mean both cars and people.  especially if your clients have children, be mindful of safety.  choose locations that don’t experience high traffic, as kids like to run and you need to keep their safety in mind at all times.  for my urban locations, i try my best to take my clients into little spots away from traffic to shoot and remind them of safety while we are walking in between locations.

for locations that don’t experience automobile traffic, be mindful of crowds.  choosing parks that are crowded will be a nightmare, not only for you but for your client.  for you, having other people around your session will make shooting and editing a nightmare as you try to dodge having strangers in your photographs.  for your clients, being in busy areas is not only distracting to the younger ones, but it can be nerve wreaking as well.  some clients are nervous enough as it is being in front of the camera, so having additional people around accentuates that.

5.  Do : Think of Client Safety

be mindful of rivers, lakes, traffic, bugs, and things that can be climbed on.  the world is a dangerous place as it is, so there is not going to be a perfectly safe location but be mindful of things that are especially dangerous to children.  if you decide to use a location that has water or another attribute that can be deemed unsafe, remind your clients, “there is water to the right, so let’s hold hands!”  making your clients aware can play a big factor in keeping them safe so don’t be afraid to give safety reminders.  it’s also a great idea to make sure your contract removes you from any liability regarding safety, but i am not going to give contract advice.  it’s best to chat with your contract lawyer about that.

6.  Don’t : Locations That Are Dependent on the Season

this is not necessarily a bad thing, just something to keep in mind.  be mindful that your favorite summer location may not be your favorite winter location.  some locations are dependent on the season, as in they look better during certain times of the year.  be sure to visit your location during a variety of seasons, bringing your camera with you of course, to ensure that it is still meeting your requirements.

7.  Do : Look for Textures

as always, look deeper into your locations and look for the things that will really bring interest to your photographs.  look for textures like tall grass, wood, fencing, gravel roads, brick, cobblestone, etc.  textures are a really fun element that can make your photo that much better.  be sure that the textures aren’t too much in that they steal the spotlight away from your subject, you want the surroundings to support your photo not steal it.

scouting outdoor session locations is really simple and fun.  again, make sure you bring your camera and any lenses you generally use during sessions as you are looking at locations.  have fun taking test photos and don’t be discouraged if the place you initially love isn’t what you thought it was going to be.  it happens, and it’s better to find out before your session than to realize it during your session.  in turn, make sure you give every location a chance.  sometimes the locations that you least expect to like or work are the locations that make the best photos!

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The Do's and Don'ts of Scouting Outdoor Session Locations | Bethadilly Photography

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