You’ve heard the term “Location, Location, Location!” when it comes to real estate, right? Well, it’s not much different for photography.
I want to share my thinking with you for how I choose a location, so that the next time you photograph your family (either with me or on your own), you can keep these tips in mind too.
My location list has been evolving through conversations with friends, other photographers, but also a lot of just driving around. I’m constantly paying attention as I ride around. My camera phone has been such an incredible tool. When I see a spot I like, if I’m able to, I stop, or I make a special trip to see. Then I walk around and I take pictures, that I can refer to a bit later. My bike recently has been an amazing tool for me. I’ve found some fantastic spots on the Peninsula purely because I got out of the car, and took a ride.
So what do I look for?
- Safety. This is the most important thing to me. I have seen AMAZING spots literally off the side of a freeway, but no, I would never consider bring taking you there. If it’s not safe for my speedy little monkeys, I would never risk yours. So close moving vehicles, and dangerous drop-offs are out.
- Lack of background distractions. No one really wants a row of parked cars in the background of their family photos… unless it’s part of the story we’re trying to tell. Sometimes just changing the way my group is facing will do the trick, but for smaller parks, sometimes that isn’t an option.
- Good light. I like open fields, late in the afternoon, or really early in the mornings. Then I can take a field like this, face my group away from the sun, and turn it into a sun-kissed image like this:
- Even shade. This is an extension of the good light. As our morning sessions progress into the day and the sun goes overhead, it’s easy for the sunlight to become distracting, and even worse: give you those horrific raccoon eyes. So I look for shade. Even shade specifically. Trees are both good and scary to me. If it’s a nice, thick canopy I’m happy, but if it’s sparse, I just can’t do it. I reject even prettiest of backgrounds then, because no one finds the zebra look particularly flattering. This is why taking a picture has been so invaluable to me. Even if it’s just an iPhone one. See what I mean:
- Overhangs. As much as I would like to be in charge of the weather, it can rain during our appointment. Sometimes we reschedule, but sometimes we can’t due to time constraints (babies won’t stay in bellies until the weather clears up, and Christmas doesn’t wait for good family portrait weather). So I seek out places that are sheltered from the rain. I’ve found that business parks, schools, colleges, community centers, and religious centers are pretty good about shielding their visitors from the rain, so that’s where I am for. If you have a pretty looking building, with a wide overhang, lemme know about it, won’t you? I’m always on the hunt for more of these.
- Architectural interest. Graffiti sometimes can be cool. So can colorful doors, windows, or unique buildings, or stair-cases. Changing your perspective on these is especially interesting, especially if you look up at an element, or get behind it. It’s how something like these unassuming wooden steps, appear up as something like this:
Now you know how I think. I hope this has been helpful, and I’m eager to hear about spots that YOU want to be photographed in.
About Zemya Photography
Zemya Photography is a professional Bay Area photographer, based on the Peninsula, and specializes in couples, maternity, family, newborn, baby, and children's on-location, natural light, lifestyle portrait photography. Book your session today