Bay Area Photographer, Composition + design techniques, Education, Lifestyle Photography, Photo Tips, Photography Education, Photography educator, Photography Mentor, San Francisco Family Photographer, San Francisco Photography, San Francisco Photography Locations, Session tips, Uncategorized
Photography has long been a hobby for me, and I’ve always treasured old family photographs and the rich stories they carry with them, but it wasn’t until I became a mother that I became obsessed with the need to preserve and remember each phase and detail of my family life.
I love using the environment and backdrops at my locations to elevate my storytelling. Photography is an art that requires not only skill and creativity, but it also benefits from intentional planning and consideration of various factors. One of the most important aspects of photography is the location. Choosing the right location can make a huge difference in the outcome of a photography session. In this blog post, I will address one of the most frequent questions I get asked by other photographers and my mentees – what do I look for when scouting session locations?
The first factor I consider while selecting a location for photography is the lighting. I am mostly a natural light photographer, so when I am looking at locations, I want to make sure the light is ample and interesting. I like to use all kinds of lighting– front light, back light, side light, silhouetted light, pockets of light, dappled light, flared light, blue hour light, golden hour light – I pretty much love observing and using all kinds of light! When given the choice, I usually opt to photograph during the golden hour – the hour after sunrise or before sunset – which can provide the most beautiful (imo), warm, glowing light which many photographers lust after.
Interesting Design + Composition
Composition is another important factor to consider when selecting a location for photography. I look for locations with interesting compositional possibilities, elements of design, and textures. Design elements such as colors and patterns can enhance your photograph’s atmosphere. I like colorful walls, murals, unique architecture, cool trees, fog, mountains, flowers, or any natural textures. I believe that it is a matter of training your eyes to see and create the artistic composition and incorporate the design more than the location itself. Interesting compositions and design elements can be found in most places. Although, obviously, I love me an epic and wild place in nature.
Activities for Client Engagement
The next aspect I consider is whether the location will allow for natural movement, or activities that my clients can do while interacting with each other and the location. Look for a location that offers a variety of interesting activities for your clients. You can get really creative here – I’ve photographed the more typical parks, beaches, and fields, but I’ve also photographed families walking their neighborhood shops, at a bookstore, on bikes, in a museum, having a picnic, at a local ice cream shop, and on a family ranch. I don’t love playgrounds though because it’s easy for a kid to get off track there and they tend to have less-then-optimal colors. So when thinking about location and activities, I want engagement within the family and space but not a detraction from family cohesiveness.
Safety and Accessibility
Safety and accessibility are crucial factors to consider while selecting a location for photography. Always prioritize the safety of your clients and yourself. Look for locations that are easily accessible and have safe walking paths or hiking trails. It’s hard to know how mobile a maternity mama will be, so I consider that in deciding a location. I don’t take toddlers anywhere near coastal bluffs and remind families to be extra careful along the Pacific shores near me. If it is an extended family session, I want a location that has natural seating or benches for the grandparents to rest as needed.
While considering all of the aforementioned components, lastly, I make sure my locations offer a variety of backgrounds thereby allowing me to create a more diverse and dynamic final set for my clients.
Selecting the perfect location for a photography session requires thoughtful consideration of various factors and keeping your eyes open to creative possibilities. If you are interested in learning more about how I use locations intentionally and creatively, you can sign up here to receive updates on my upcoming course, A Sense of Place: Learning to intentionally incorporate your location to enhance and elevate storytelling.
Ashley is an award winning & published
lifestyle photographer based out of San
Francisco, serving the greater Bay Area
and is always down for an adventure. Just
tell her where to go!