A common question we are always asked is how we choose which locations we want to shoot. The process itself is pretty quick because we have it down to a science, but a location has to answer “yes” to a majority of our questions. Here is a little insight into the hierarchy of questions we ask ourselves before choosing a photoshoot location:
Is it epic?
Seriously. If it is epic there is a super high chance we are going to decide to shoot it. What do we consider “epic?” Giant waterfalls, hidden ruins, mountains, fog, fields, and generally anything unique that is off-the-beaten-path. Each photographer has their “must-shoot” type locations. For Terrence, it is, without a doubt, fields and anything with fog. Even if you don’t traditionally shoot something and you come across some epic vista, take it from us and just do it.
Is the weather good?
If the weather isn’t good, you can forget about shooting even the best locations. When we pass up an epic location, the weather has to be so bad it isn’t even worth it. For example, in Iceland, we came across the most spectacular beach we have ever seen. The weather was in the low 20s, the wind chill was 30mph gusts, and we calculated our shoot time would have only been a few minutes. Similarly, driving rain or a white-out doesn’t work either. Sometimes it just isn’t worth it and a location has to be cut.
What will we shoot in? Snow, moderate wind, freezing weather [within reason], light rain, and, of course, sun!
Can we work with the available light?
If it is epic and the weather is at least decent, we turn our attention to the lighting. Since we only shoot with natural light, the available lighting situation is very important to us. Our ideal lighting situation? Beautiful golden-hour/sunset sun that is warm and inviting. However, being on the road, we never have a choice. We consider decent lighting to be filtered sun, “high noon” sun, or overcast weather.
Once in a while, the location is so spectacular that we give in to undesirable lighting and shoot anyway. It is a gamble since sometimes it works out well and other times Terrence gets home and is stuck figuring out how to deal with editing.
Do we have the right gear?
Usually, the answer is a resounding yes, but as of late, our 70-200 lens is out of commission. Now, we have to be careful when choosing a photoshoot location because the lenses we have may not show off the landscape the way we want. For example, we visited an epic castle in Germany and could have shot it from below with Victoria in a field [the castle was on the side of the mountain]. Since we didn’t have the 70-200, we had to pass it up because the lenses we are left with don’t show off depth-of-field as well.
When choosing a photoshoot location, don’t forget the strengths and weaknesses of each piece of gear in your bag. You want your final shot to show off the location to the best of your ability and if your lens doesn’t fit the location, you may muddy the end result.
Will the dresses we have work with the location in question?
If we don’t have any dresses that fit a location, but the location is epic, we will still shoot in a dress we don’t love because come on! That being said, we always try to take stock of the dresses we are carrying and see which one fits best with the potential location. A dress that works well with the landscape is always better and should at least be in your memory bank when choosing a photoshoot location.
Have we shot a location like this before?
We are putting this at the end because it is a completely personal decision. Sometimes, the fact that you have already shot a certain style location will deter you from making the decision to shoot a similar landscape. For example, waterfalls were fantastic but then we shot too many. Now, we avoid waterfalls with a certain look so we don’t duplicate the style of shots we have already taken.
What questions do you ask yourself before choosing a photoshoot location? Do you follow the same hierarchy we do? Let us know in the comments!