Business Friday | Choosing Session Locations


BF_SessionLocationWhy does it always seem like a location is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to a Client of mine!? Rather it’s an engaged couple or a family of four, location choice is ALWAYS the top priority for my Clients! When really and truly, location choice should be THE LEAST of their worries! It’s time to put my Clients at ease and talk all about selecting locations for a portrait session or wedding day for today’s Business Friday Post!

Selecting Locations is MY JOB! In a way, selecting a location is sort of in my “job description”.  I base location choice solely on THE LIGHT. So if the LIGHT looks good, then let’s shoot away.  Unless the Client or Couple has any suggestions or requests, then I’ll decide where we shoot.  When I first communicate with my Clients, I ask them what examples from my previous work do they feel inspired by or what stands out to them.  Once I gather the overall look and feel that my Clients are wanting, then I either try to location scout and find new locations or take them to similar locations that will fit their overall look for their session.

LIGHT is KEY! Having good light is the NUMBER ONE reason why I pick the locations I photograph at.  Believe me, I’ve shot at ALL sorts of places, and quite honestly some of the places you’d LEAST expect! I’ve shot beside trash cans in an alley way, next to dirty construction equipment, and even one time shot next to a homeless man sleeping!! (Only in NoDa!! Bless his heart!) If the light looks good, no matter what the surroundings, we’ll shoot.

It IS ALL about YOU! When I say that the light is key, I mean it! So even if we’re shooting in a location that really isn’t “pleasing to the eyes”, know that the location isn’t really going to be SEEN all that much.  Keep in mind, you’re wanting photographs taken of YOU…not some random field or nearby tree.  Sure, these elements add parts to your photographic story, but I doubt they’ll be the ones hanging in an 11×14 frame on your wall.  Remember that it IS ALL ABOUT YOU and whatever you’re wanting photographed.  So if it’s your family of four or a couple on their wedding day, I’ll do my absolute best to find locations that are naturally and beautifully lit, have some sort of “cool” aspect to them (tree, tall grass, long dirt road, alleyway, or building skyline) but also keep in mind that you’re not photographing the tree, you’re photographing you and yours TOGETHER.

I TRY to AVOID Parks at ALL COSTS! This is a BIGGIE for me! I feel that people may get this idea that parks are SO PRETTY and would be GREAT to photograph at, and while some of that may be true (I’ve been to some really pretty local parks recently!!) Parks tend to be SO crowded on warm weather days AND not have that “natural look” you may be going for. While there may be some areas in a park that REALLY look great, we’re really limited to where we can shoot when it comes to having your session location inside a busy park setting.  Although I love parks in Charlotte like Freedom Park or Romare Bearden Park, they are often times SATURATED with people, bikers, runners, and little kids everywhere! Although it’s great, I’m not so sure you’d like for some random stranger to be photo-bombin’ in the background of your image!

Get used to parking on the SIDE of the road! Oftentimes when I tell my Clients to just follow me and we’ll be parking on the side of the road, they tend to look at me a little funny.  However, on the SIDE of THE ROAD is where I find my most favorite locations! I’ll go out from time to time right around the time of day when I want to start shooting and I’ll do some location scouting (Phillip comes with me sometimes, and lots of the time we make it a little fun “day date”! 🙂  I’ll keep an ongoing list either in my phone or on a piece of paper while we’re driving of locations that A.) Look great with that golden sunshine B.) Easy to get to and C.) Natural and with cool elements.  I do A LOT of location scouting out in the country and in the surrounding areas of where I live, but I also keep location listings in mind whenever I travel into town or see certain cool things when I’m out and about! For instance, there’s this AWESOME ivy covered wall in downtown Waxhaw that I love shooting at! There’s these MASSIVE trees out in a field in Midland which are SO cool, and there’s a lot of parking decks that give really GREAT views of downtown Charlotte which look SO cool in the backgrounds of images!

Accessibility is IMPORTANT! Making sure that a location I choose is pretty easy to get to is also a factor when it comes to choosing a location for a session.  With that being said, sometimes when we park on the side of the road, I make sure it’s not on a crazy busy highway or road, and the location is within a short walking distance.  There’s ALWAYS those locations where we may have to walk a little ways to get to where we’re going, but nothing too crazy! Depending on the location and the season, I may have my Clients walk out into the middle of field filled with budding white cotton or knee high grass which doesn’t always go good for my ladies in high heels, so I would suggest to bring along a change of shoes just incase!

Making SOMETHING out of NOTHING! That’s typically what I do when choosing locations because 9 times out of 10, my Clients will pull up to a location and be like “we’re shooting where?” Thankfully, I have Clients who hopefully trust me and my judgement and know that I’m not leading them to an ugly place! Like I said before, as long as the lighting looks great, we can shoot just about anywhere! And that’s what I do! There’s been times when I’ve shot sessions in locations beside trashcans, or up against the wood wall of a BATHROOM BUILDING! I’ve had Clients stand in overgrowing Kudzu, waist high in weeds, or up against a falling down shack.  The phrase “making something out of nothing” couldn’t be more true here! There’s many times where EVEN PHILLIP has been like “Whoa…that’s COOL” once he saw what I was able to capture from an odd location.

So here’s some of my most favorite locations AND the story behind them!

Here’s an iPhone shot taken from my car (while I was driving…AHH!) of those massive trees I love…IMG_5973And here’s some shots of the ACTUAL trees I used in the engagement session for Daniel+Laura2016-04-27_00242016-04-27_0020Here’s a pull away shot of the location of yellow wild flowers we used for Katie+Evan’s engagement session.  It was right next to a VERY busy road, but we parked off a side road and walked into the field.  I shot into the sun and it was SO funny because we had to wait to shoot in between the bypassing cars! Needless to say, those two were in their kissing poses for a long time! 😉 KatieEvan_Engagements_215 KatieEvan_Engagements_222Here’s an ACTUAL shot from their engagement session! 2016-04-21_0005

Here’s another shot I love! We shot Lindsay+Andy up against this cool wooden “wall”, but really it was just the backside of a BATHROOM building inside Latta Plantation!! How funny is that?! I told them that they HAD to think romantic thoughts and think that they were in a cabin in the mountains when they looked at these pictures from now on! Hehe!


Happy Friday! Thanks for reading! XO! -Emma Loo

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