5 Ways to Make your Location Work for You!
The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.
Keep this definition in your back pocket throughout this read.
It’s time for my first blog post in a hot minute, so throw me some slack while we attempt to get through this.
Here are FIVE different ways to make your location work for you…Not the other way around.
Have you ever been at a loss on a location to take photos for a client or a concept shoot you have in mind?
Well…this post is to help you see things a little differently…Possibly even challenge you a bit! I’m going to teach you how to utilize beautiful locations and also how to pretty-up the locations that need a little love. That gorgeous wedding venue? The dirty ditch across from a gas station? Your own back yard?
Yeah, you’ve got this.
Let’s get started.
5 TRICKS TO MAKE YOUR LOCATION WORK FOR YOU
TIP 1: FRAMING
This is the most important tip you can take with you…EVER. Not joking. Framing is what can make or break the depth of a photo, and shapes are literally your best friend when it comes to this. If you have a solid frame in your image, you can immediately guarantee that you’re adding that little extra “something” to what you’re shooting.
Here’s an example:
Okay, okay…Not every empty field will have smokestacks like this or these amazing wood beams lying on the ground, but this one did!
Do you notice how the wooden beams draw your eye into the subject (my fancy husband)? This is an example of framing. You want to bring every ounce of attention to your subject…whatever it may be! Framing is an excellent (and usually pretty easy) way to accomplish this. The smoke stacks behind him bring that much more movement to the image as well.
WHAT IF I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING TO FRAME WITH?!
Simple! Grab any item from your car/anything that’s with you that can do this for you.
Here’s another example:
This is where it gets fun.
I used…WHAT? A Branch. Guys, a branch. You can find those almost anywhere, right? When doing this technique. Do Not. I repeat. Do NOT! Be afraid to move the branch/any other object around until you can achieve the attention to the subject you’re looking for. Another way to do this is to grab whatever item you’re using and create a haze with it right in front of your lens! It creates a beautiful, atmospheric blur that you’re sure to love. Prisms are also lovely..don’t ever underestimate them!
Be creative. Enjoy it!
TIP 2: POSING & LIGHT TRICKS
Next to framing, posing is also extremely important. Make sure your client is comfortable with you…Meet up with them beforehand to just chat and hang out if you need to. Me, I know I’m an awkward person. It’s something I’ve known my whole life, actually. If I feel like I’m going to be uncomfortable or nervous around someone, I try to meet them at least once before we have our session. I feel like, for them and you as the photographer, it’s great to know the model’s personality and talk about what they do or don’t like…Favorite hobbies, etc. If you have a great ice breaker, your session is bound to be fantastic. It’s all about holding that chemistry with your client. I get along well with my clients, and they trust me and my overall VISION so most of them are comfortable with crazy things and angles I have in mind. Bring props for them as well if you have a specific look you’re going for.
Light Tricks: SO EASY and SO FUN. Follow the sun…See where and how it’s hitting your subject. Sometimes the light can do the framing for you, and if it does, it’s pure gold.
Another little note to add to this: Don’t be afraid to try weird angles. If you have ever shot with me before, chances are that I’ll end up on the ground at some point framing you with a set of ceiling tiles or trees…Yeah. It can get THAT weird.
TIP 3: OPEN UP THAT APERTURE!
You have friends, right? Do they all have cool iPhones that support portrait mode? Do they brag to you that their images are fantastic on their iPhones because of said portrait mode? Well…Welcome to the world of real wide-open aperture. It’s a solid technique when trying to disguise a location and bring back that depth you may be missing. The whole thought behind this is to completely mask the background…Once again. Keep all of the focus on your main subject. In this example, our bride and groom are the main focus with some absolutely gorgeous field bokeh in the background. This photo was shot at an open aperture of f/1.8. Which, unless I’m shooting more than two people, is what I’m normally shooting at. I can get into apertures and shutter speeds in another blog post. I have to keep you around somehow!
HIDDEN TIP: ANYTHING GOLDEN HOUR IS A GO!
TIP 4: POST-PROCESSING
Remember that word “vision” that’s been hanging around throughout this blog post? This is where it will really come in. As you’re shooting, no matter the location, have your post-processing plan ready to go in your head. Know the color pattern you’re going to have and the overall feel your image will portray once it’s complete. For me, I normally go mostly desaturated with a moody, filmy look, but from there, I can also change the color of the surroundings I’m in. Let’s refer to a before and after:
Doesn’t look too different, right? However, can you see the color changes in the yellow/green tones? That’s normally my usual style, but I also went into this shoot knowing I wanted to have a vintage and dreamy feel to it. By doing the added adjustments, I was able to make a muddy ditch by the road that was littered with garbage (yes, for real) look like a warm, bright and sunny oasis. Play around with different techniques in Lightroom. You may just surprise yourself!
TIP 5: TRUST YOUR ABILITIES
Trust yourself. Believe in your craft. Be creative. Do what you love.
I don’t know about all of you, but once I’m in my element, I’m unstoppable. My mind creates images for me, and I use it to work with anything that comes my way. It really is a liberating feeling, and it’s one that I live for. If the location isn’t doing it for you, trust your photographic eye and post-processing talents. If you can’t find framing, hunt and find the nearest thing you can pop in front of your lens…See what form it can present to you. Get crazy with posing (if the model is okay with it). Location isn’t everything. You don’t have to have the most Instagrammable spot in the world. You solely need your eye, imagination, and creativity to give you everything you’re envisioning right now. Once again, surprise yourself.
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