You should always be getting inspiration for the when and where of your future photo shoots. Matching a specific location that perfectly complements the shoot visually is ideal, but can be difficult if you’re a blank slate and don’t have any particular direction. It’s helpful to continuously build a personal archive of locations that catch your interest. For me I take inspiration from my travels and document the spot using my phone camera.
Aside from physically coming across locations to shoot at I also take inspiration from film. I do a web search on where my favorite television shows and movies were shot. Here are a few sites I frequent:
Before you go off randomly location scouting you should research potential locations as much as possible. Here the internet is your best friend ie all forms of Google! Google the location of interest, get an aerial overview via Google Maps, then get an ever closer view with Google Maps’ Street View. Whatever you do just keep zooming! It’s much more efficient to get as much information on the potential location as possible while you’re at home/office.
I particularly remember there was a location in downtown Los Angeles from the 1993 film starring Michael Douglas, “Falling Down,”that I wanted to shoot at (see photo below). With a lot of googling I pinpointed the exact spot and was so excited to find the beaten up plot of random land with a Los Angeles skyline view. I was about to jump into my car and drive over, but then upon further searching I discovered that the city built a parking lot on top of the location. If I didn’t find that bit of information I’d probably would have spent 2 hours in traffic and then an extra hour or so searching for the now nonexistent angry Michael Douglas location.
Successful research on a specific locations looks something like this:
3. Logistics To Location aka What to Do With Your Cars
This is actually extremely important –especially in West LA where they have parking signs that require a translator! No seriously…
In all seriousness though an important to keep in mind for travel logistics: time to get to location (be sure to account for traffic conditions) and relative close and bountiful parking. Your ideal parking situation would be something that is:
- – Relatively close to the exact shooting location so that transporting equipment wouldn’t be too exhausting
- – Available for a long period of time, otherwise you’ll have to send a PA to run and re-feed the meters/parking fee or move cars.
- – Available in large quantities, so that all participating members of the shoot can find parking
If you or other parties aren’t personally driving to the location, it would be wise to check public transportation routes the day before.
4. Tech Scout
Power? Bathroom? Permits? Lighting? Sun location? Trash? Once you’ve done all your research go scout the location. While on location look for things that could potentially be an issue on the shoot day.
You know what would suck? If you need to shoot a typical sunny day on the beach and then on the day of your shoot it rained and then a giant tsunami wave appeared and washed all your gear away. Bye bye!
While you’re scouting pay attention to weather conditions and then look at extended weather forecasts on multiple websites to ensure ideal weather. Sources I use are:
6. Backup Location
In the event that $hit hits the fan and everything utterly fails have a secure nearby backup location. If something goes wrong on the day before or on the actual shoot day and you lose your location having a backup location will be your savior. While your location scouting be sure to find other options along the way.