The Importance of Location

Just like in Real Estate, Photography is about location, location, location.  Well, sort of.

It’s not as much the beauty of a location, but rather, the quality of the light at a location.

Case in point, my shoot this past weekend was of a lovely family in a seemingly lovely location.  It was a small, narrow park that wrapped around a large lake.  Sounds pretty, but the light was not desirable for portraits.  Imagine clear skies and a sun that was as bright as can be!  There weren’t structures or large trees to provide shade.

Why is this bad?  Direct sunlight on clear, bright days means high contrast, squinting subjects, and unflattering shadows. 
Can a Pro still make this work?
  Certainly, but the kinds of shots are not as varied because of the location.

[FYI:  For outdoor lifestyle sessions, I shoot entirely in natural light.  This is my style of shooting.  This article does not apply if you use lighting equipment or accessories outside.]

Since my clients chose the location for sentimental reasons, it was worth starting there.  Then we got in our cars to find a different location… one that has objects to diffuse the sunlight as well as add interest to the images.

First Location

Even from this one image, you can tell that it is a pretty location, but you can see that the trees are thin and the sunlight is super bright.

Second Location

These images are examples of what can be achievable with the right light and location.

 

THE TAKEAWAY:

If you are a photographer…

The key to finding the perfect location for outdoor portraits isn’t to find one that has the prettiest elements, but rather, one that has objects that provide shade when there is bright sun.  That doesn’t mean you have to shoot in the shade the entire time… or even at all!  Having these objects around will give you diversity in backdrops as well as a way to diffuse the harsh light on clear days.

If you are a bride or groom…

Find a ceremony and reception location that you and your fiance love!  Then involve your photographer, if possible, in helping to decide some of the big details — such as, where to place the cake.  The manager of a venue and Wedding Coordinator, for example, will focus more on logistics to decide placement (ie, where will guests see the cake, but the cake is out of the way of traffic) whereas a Photographer will consider where the cake will look the best and how it will photograph.

Since photographs are the only thing you can enjoy every single day after your wedding (other than your undying love for each other :)), I believe more consideration should be placed on how your wedding will photograph.  So, involve your photographer!

If you are a portrait client…

Involve your photographer when choosing a location.

 

[Note:  A version of this article is published on Digital Photography School (DPS).]

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