Shooting Outside - Location, Location, Location: Part 2 - Proper Areas, Safety and Lighting Rules

We discussed a series of important facts in regards to shooting outside, but it is time to move towards less-discussed topics. As a photographer, you need to pay attention to all these details in order to build a quality outdoors photo session.

3. One Area To Rule Them All

This does not mean having one area for all your photography settings. This means finding an area that has multiple hot spots if we can call them that – in other words, your setting would have more than one special thing – it could be an old building that retains a lot of history, a dash of art but also contains interesting stair wells, maybe an old ballroom, and a touch of industrial decay.

Imagine that in these kinds of settings, you can usually go for a lot of images, and they would never look the same. You would once use the stair well for some odd black and white images, and sometimes you might use the walls of the building for some old style images, that would be later turned in sepia for different effect.

These areas or locations are great if you are not sure where your model would look best – you try and after you figure out which one fits best you start building your photo session. An old wooden bridge with railroad tracks could also work great as a Jack-Of-All-Trades kind of location. A light wooded area also has a lot to offer, however for this one you might have to travel again to the great outdoors.

4. Safety First

In your search for the perfect portrait location, you will stumble upon many abandoned locations, but you have to make sure everything is safe first. Consider decommissioned tracks – make sure they are indeed decommissioned. This might seem like a no-brainer advice, but it is better to be safe than sorry. The same goes for rundown buildings – they make a wonderful setting, however, you might not be able to get shots out of it if it starts falling apart right in the middle of your setting.

Agreed that it would be a tale to remember, but you should be safe first. The other piece of advice you need to consider is not to trespass – it is not worth getting in jail or any kind of trouble for that matter, regardless of how beautiful or interesting a location is. If you feel you are breaking some rules by being there, you should probably at least ask around and make sure you’re not breaking some rules. Remember to be smart when choosing a location, and avoid getting into trouble that’s just not worth it.

5.Lighting, Lighting, Lighting

Now, we discussed the actual location, but there is more to picking the right spot than just the place itself. You have to make sure the place gives you enough natural light for you to play with. In most cases, you will carry around at least a flashgun, but working with existing light and a couple of lights is key to beautiful portraits.

A couple of natural light tips include – overcast days are best for portraits. The lighting is more even and the overcast provides a small soft box effect.

If you remember from our first chapter, soft boxes help by providing a uniform, filling light that diminishes blemishes and creates smoother shadows and curves. The light is generally warmer (from a temperature point of view) and can lead to some wonderful backgrounds.

Doing some test shots before the actual shooting might help you understand with what kind of light you’re actually dealing with. If you end up shooting in a sunny day, make sure you compensate for the extra amount of light.