Tips for Choosing an Outdoor Photo Shoot Location

Man, is spring finally here??? For months I’ve been itching to walk down the street without hunching my shoulders against the cold wind, smell some fresh air (or what we think of as fresh here in NYC) and spend some time outside. Can we, with confidence, put away the winter coats and scarves?

spring outdoor photos nyc ballet

With the warmer weather, we photographers start popping up like gophers everywhere to shoot outside. I am of course no exception, and started to book photo shoots on location last month. For those of you not here in NYC (or not able to make a trip to shoot with me), here are my tips to picking a good photo shoot location and making the most of your outdoor location shoot.

1) Know what you want to achieve from your shoot and work accordingly.

If you want to become part of the background and less of the focus of the shot, then a grand vista or a cool location where you can become part of the landscape is where you want to be.

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If you would like to be more the focus of the shot, you need a location that is a little less busy where you can stand out more easily. This is also achieved through auxiliary lighting, which your photographer should be familiar working with (note: you do not want to use on camera flash, that is some of the worst lighting in general).

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2) Choose a location with access to a hidden spot or bathroom so you can change in for different looks

3) Shoot in what I call a ‘loaded’ location, where you have many different backgrounds available within a 5 minute walk.

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4) Choose a spot that is generally less crowded or a time of day that is less crowded.

You will spend less time waiting for people to walk through your shoot and more time shooting.

5) Know if you need a permit to shoot in a location

This one is super important!  In New York City dance photographers check with the Parks Department or the Mayors Office of Film and Theatre.  If you’re not in NYC, Google ‘shooting permits’ for your area and something should pop up.

Sometimes there is a fee, other times not. The permit is essential, especially if you are shooting with larger groups or in landmark locations like Prospect Park, Central Park or Grand Central Station, all of whom fine you for staging photo shoots without permits.

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Coming up.. understanding if an outdoor photo shoot is right for you.  Next week, I weigh the pros and cons.


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