The key to successful location shooting is preparation, this both in terms of forward planning and then on the day.
If for example, shooting some distance from home or abroad then it pays to do research in advance. If possible then a visit ahead of time is the best preparation, with some locations e.g. abroad this is not alway possible but there are plenty of internet tools to help you plan a visit in advance. The likely weather, locations you wish to visit, advice on what is required for particular conditions. With so many image sharing sites now available you can also always find sample images from your intended destination and may give you ideas about the sort of images you wish to capture or conversely what to steer clear of. Familiarity with a location is key to obtaining quality images whether you are a wedding photographer, who often specialise in particular venues, or landscape photographers who may visit a location many times to get the perfect combination of weather and viewpoint.
There are a number of tools and smartphone applications that will assist. Some of the most useful (free) tools I have found include.
- Google – Earth, useful for indicating the terrain that will be encountered.
- The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE) ( http://photoephemeris.com/ ) – provides Sunrise, Moonrise, Sunset and Moonset times for any location in the world along with the direction according to time of year.
- Trip Advisor – Provides information on all sorts of detail such as local transport.
- Flikr / Google Images – For examples of the sort of images possible at your intended location.
Time spent on research will ensure you maximise the time spent on location and accordingly the quantity of quality of images captured.
On the day.
I like to think about on the day preparation as disaster avoidance. Basically ensuring you have all the equipment you are likely to need and where possible backups of essential equipment, particularly for items such as memory cards and charged batteries as these relatively inexpensive items if not available or malfunctioning will stop a shoot dead. Professionals e.g. Wedding Photographers will also have a backup camera as the consequences of an equipment failure on the day are too dire to contemplate. The damage to reputation of failing to shoot a wedding could easily be fatal to a budding business which largely depends on personal recommendation for growth and as ever in a personal service role you are “as good as your last job”.
A check-list of equipment required for the day is useful and prevents inadvertently forgetting an item, an easy way to generate this is to make an inventory of all your equipment then print it off and and tick off those required for a particular day/type of shoot. This should include all equipment that may be required e.g. for a portrait shoot, reflectors, diffusers, filters, radio triggers and flash (if being used) and specific lenses might be on the list whereas for a landscape shoot tripod, different lenses and filters may be required.
Even with extensive preparation things can go wrong on the day as some elements e.g. the weather are completely out of anyone’s control. Accordingly a flexible attitude is essential if things don’t go as expected and maybe a plan B e.g. research indoor locations as well if the original plan was for external shots but the weather is dismal on the day.
Location Images, Daffodils in local town of Cricklade and Red Rock Canyon, Nevada.
For more examples of images taken on Location Shoots
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