Scouting for Photo Shoot Locations? 4 Items to Keep in Mind


If you've already been taking outfit photos or want to step into the arena, there's plenty of elements to consider in capturing the perfect shot.  Grechen Reiter recently wrote the post, “What I’ve Learned in 10 Years Posting OOTD,”  which provides some awesome tips on executing and delivering outfit photos, so I've decided to provide a few more when it comes to searching for a great spot in which to take them.

If the outdoor weather isn't your friend right now, check out my post on “5 Ways to Channel Outfit Post Creativity in the Winter” for some additional indoor inspiration.

Walls Are SUCH an Easy Go-To

Keep on the look out for a variety of wall-related options that can make your images really pop and provide less for you to chop or alter in the post-production stages. Good graffiti is always great, and be on the look out for other forms of artwork like murals or brightly colored walls that can be found on building siding, gates, or even garage doors. As long as it's not too distracting, dimensional qualities that give a bit of texture and a 3D effect can prove to be fruitful backdrop selections, ranging from wrought iron designs to slanted tiles, planks, metal, and even bricks.

I've found that residing in an urban landscape can prove difficult to avoid moving or still objects in shots, such as cars (parked or in motion),  people walking by, etc,so by shooting against a surface that won't have these kind of distractions happening behind you will drastically up your chance of getting off more images in less time too. I do have to admit that when standing on cement I do try to avoid spots that have old gum spots, garbage, or mystery substances on them, but a tight crop of the image or a few clicks in some photo-editing software can get rid of those little imperfections.

What Are You Willing to Trade Off?

“What?! What do you mean, that I will have to “trade something off?!?”” you may be asking yourself, but I promise it isn't going to be your first born to get the fabulous picture of your dreams. All that I really mean by this is that sometimes there are elements outside of your control that you will have to work with or around, and so being prepared to deal with them and make a swift decision may be called for. For example,  I've scouted out a few AMAZING photo shoot spots, only to discover that once I show up in full regalia ready to “work it” for the camera that the sun is hitting NO WHERE NEAR that side of the street. Since my dream spot was draped in deep shadows, the trade off I had to make was do I sacrifice light for location, or location for light? This could be a common scenario, in which you'll have to regroup as best you can, which means it's also a good idea to have a back up location in mind.

Wind is another element that can either give you a gorgeously wind blown look, or be the biggest nuisance ever to grace your photo shoots. You may need to find a smaller, tighter space to duck inside, like a doorway to block it or reschedule your photos for a different day.

I've also tried to beat the rain for a shoot, and then when it starts to come down, turn it into a “isn't my outfit cool and whimsical with this umbrella in my hand? I'm SO carefree!” At least for me, these never work out, as I'm trying to turn the wince from getting pelted sideways by the rain into a huge smile, why my petite, abbreviated arms awkwardly dangle the umbrella at a weird,cock-eyed angle somewhere near my head. I pretty much instantly regret not waiting to take the photos on a different day when the lighting is good and I'm not slowly getting soaked in the process.

How Does What You are Wearing React with the Background?

You have to keep in mind that although you don't want your backdrop to be overly distracting, you also don't want your outfit to blend into it either. A white background can always look to be the epitome of professional, however, you don't want to use it if you are wearing predominantly…white!  I really like softened shades of grey, mint, taupe, and neutral hues, but it's important to keep in mind how what you plan to wear will look against the background. It's really no different than piling on another accessory and making sure it goes with your complete look.

I now have about five different backgrounds that I use for my outfit posts, and certainly some other elements come into play (see the points above and below), but high on the list is thinking about how it will look against what I'm wearing. I always love a bold contrast, and seem to get the most positive comments to those posts, for example, if I'm wearing something red and the background behind me is aqua, teal, or turquoise then I'm in heaven!

Does the Mood of Your Look Match Your Surroundings?

Sometimes I want to be very very lazy, and literally step off the stoop of my apartment…and into a photo shoot! But I know that this environment around me isn't necessarily the look that I'm always going for, so I sometimes need to be more selective and conscious when picking my location to present the proper vibe that I'd like to channel. Sometimes wearing something extremely elegant in a hard, metropolitan, gritty setting works…and sometimes it doesn't.

There's also those times when you have a vision, but have trouble executing it through the lens due to your skill set with photography, the climate, the natural light, etc. I really do believe that getting all of the elements to line up in a photo is just short of a miracle, so whatever you can do in your power to control, you might as well go for it.

Through your clothes you are telling a story, and in order for that particular message to come across properly and clearly, you need to consider ALL of the elements that appear in the frame; that's why magazines blow upwards of five digits to fly to exotic locales to get the background just perfect. Of course I'm by no means suggesting that, and am just bringing the point home of how important it is to reach beyond the visual and consider if the background you selected adds to or detracts from the story you are trying to tell.


What recommendations do you have?

[Image credit: Fashion Pulse Daily]

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9 Responses

  1. Ashley Taylor

    This is a great read, for me, today. When I first started outfit pictures, I’d travel all over the city for the shot, making my boyfriend play photographer, but since moving and money getting tight, I’ve been forced to use my tripod and our back patio for ALL of my shots and it’s KILLING me. Thanks for the inspo! 🙂

    xo Ashley

  2. Filipa

    This is exactly what I needed. I’ve been struggling with the choice of the right background and had no idea where to go. I usually take photos in the woods of the city park, but I got really tired of it as almost every outfit was shot there.
    Also, most outfits don’t match the background so the photos turn out to be quite funny.

    Thank you for the tips! They’re great!


  3. Jennifer Ashley

    Great article! There have been so many times where I think I have found the perfect location but the sun is not cooperating. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this!

    Jennifer Ashley

    • Julia Dinardo

      It’s so hard to predict the course of the sun, although there is an app (I wish I knew what it was called!) to help to predict where the sun will be on a certain location and day….