There are many things to consider when looking for the perfect location for your photo shoot. Does the setting provide the mood and environment you want? Will the lighting need to be modified? What permissions are needed to shoot at the location? Are there any dangers to shooting there?


It is unlikely you will want to shoot something full of glee in a cemetery - well unless you are going for a pretty twisted vibe. When selecting your location keep in mind the story you are wanting to tell with your images. I personally love to either do the expected or to juxtapose the environment all together. Just remember to consider what you want your viewer to feel and what relationship the model will have with the environment.

MUA & Model: Kanda

MUA & Model: Kanda


Sadly we are limited to the light available and the modifiers we have access too. Keep this in mind when selecting your location. Consider the direction of the light, its intensity, and where light may reflect from. If you have limited access to lighting equipment you may want to consider settings that have natural reflectors, such as an alley with a white wall. And always watch the shadows - they are a strong indicator of mood in your photos!


Sometimes locations are only available after getting permission from the owner of the property. It is kind of illegal to frolic through a field, regardless of how pretty it is, if you do not have permission to do so. And honestly, you will never know until you ask!

One of the most effective ways to obtain permission at a place of business or a residency is to simply talk to the owner in person with portfolio in hand to demonstrate the kind of work that you do. Not only does your portfolio showcase your quality and genre, it can answer some of the common questions that the owner may have. Be open about the details of your shoot with the owner too! They will want to know if the work will be for commercial or portfolio use. And do not be surprised if they ask if you are shooting nudes!

Will there be a fee?

It is possible that the owner will charge a fee to shoot on the property, especially if you are shooting for commercial purposes. I have even come across some city parks that require a yearly permit and million dollar liability insurance to shoot commercially on site. Locations will vary, and depending on your budget you will want to plan ahead in case you need to find a second location option for the shoot to stay on budget.

If you do gain permission to shoot make sure to say thank you! I love to provide a couple large photos of the location to the owner to hang if they wish, or in some instances provide them with a handwritten note and a gift card to another location that we have shot at before - I love to keep saying thank you to those who have supported my creative endeavors!

Taken at Zion National Park


The last thing you want to do is have your model traipsing through stinging nettle or poison oak. Do you really want that rashy look in the photo? In all seriousness, take a closer look at the location you are scouting. Is there anything that can cause immediate and serious health problems? Will the model fall off a cliff? While some dangers should and can most definitely be avoided (stinging nettle), you can also consider having waivers signed for dangerous activities or provide safety gear for your model that can later be edited out of the photographs. In such situations let your model and team know ahead of time of any foreseeable dangers. Not only will this allow them to consider if they want to participate, you will also be able to find the team that is right for the job - definitely a fearless one!

Have a favorite location?!