Next Issue December 1st 2016

Location, location, location! by Jonathan Route

Much like Real Estate, Photography can be all about location. You can build a big beautiful house, paint it a wonderful color, landscape it like a country club and price it high. Unfortunately you built it next to the highway and on a street with dilapidated 1950’s ranch style homes that would only appeal to Ward and June Cleaver. It may be a nice home, but nobody will give it a second look because of the location, and you will be doomed watch it sit on the market until the cows come home. This seems pretty much to be in the realm of common sense, right? So why don’t photographers think about this when taking glamorous fashion photos?

Location, location, location! We have heard it many times in reference to many things, but nobody talks about it in the photography world. I have seen phenomenal photographers put a beautiful model into a spectacular dress, with amazing hair and makeup, and then put them in front of bush with half of the leaves dead and falling off. No creativity, no thought, and no consideration for what is in the

As a photographer, one should try to think ahead of time for proper locati
on. If you want a certain feel or look to the entire shoot and not just the wardrobe, then plan ahead. Most photographers will have stock locations in mind that can work for a multitude of looks, b
ut sometimes it takes a little scouting to get just the right spot. Let us take, for instance, the current theme of this issue, Steampunk. As I set up for my shoot with the lovely Rylee Jo, I realized that just a funky hat and goggles with a few gears on the face would not get me the all-around shot that I wanted. Living in NewEngland in February also presented a problem. We don’t have any gear factories, or clock museums that I could readily use, and the days of the old blacksmith shops are long gone here in Massachusetts. So my options were to shoot in studio (yuck) or find a cool location. I researched scrap yards, autosalvage companies and machine shops. Much to my chagrin, nobody was willing to take on the liability of a young girl in a dress getting hurt at their facility. One day, about a week before the shoot was planned to take place, the model’s mom texted me and mentioned a great location that she had seen. I remembered seeing the same location a few years ago, but never knew where to go to get permission to shoot there. It was a surplus scrap steel yard, with large pieces of rusted steel piled everywhere, perfect for the Steampunk look.
Luckily, her mom was kind enough to find out who was in charge of the location and got us permission to shoot. Now, here is where the scouting comes in. The day of the shoot it was wind chills of below zero and the model was fresh off of wisdom tooth surgery, so cold and discomfort would be a challenge. 

Luckily, I was smart enough to go to the location the day before and plan things out so that the shoot could go quick and smooth. We shot mere feet from the warm vehicles, and only spent about a half hour getting the shots that I wanted.
Had I settled for a plain location with the half dead bush, or just a lame backdrop with artificial light
inside my studio, I probably would not have gotten the photos accepted for publication because they
would have been the big mansion among the Cleaver homes (The Cleavers were the family from Leave it to Beaver, for those less than 45 years old. It’s an old television show, go Google it). But because of the location, I got a complete artistic image and not just a picture of a lovely young lady in a costume. Rather than a picture, I now had an image with a steampunk model, in a steampunk location, for a full steampunk look.

Now obviously this is just one simple example, but it makes my point. Take the time to prepare a proper location for every themed shoot, or any type of shoot for that matter. Don’t settle for the usual location if what is called for is a more elaborate and specific location. Get on line and do research, ask other photographers, (That’s a funny concept) or put out a request on social media. Get creative, get excited, get a location! 

I would like to add, when picking a location, always keep ethics in mind. Get permission, never assume that it is just ok to enter a vacant lot or building. Trespassing is illegal and can cause a fair amount of embarrassment for you and the model, as well as make you look very unprofessional. Consider convenience when picking a location. Will the model be able to get there easily and not have to hike a half mile in heels and a long dress? Will there be an area for makeup and hair
touchup? Will there be lots of people constantly walking by and staring, possibly making t
he model uncomfortable, or compromising the shots? Think the whole shoot through well ahead of ti
me. The more prepared you are and the better the location is for the theme, the better your end prod
uct will be, and the better chance you have of selling that big mansion!
As usual, I add the disclaimer that this is just one man’s opinion and you can glean from it what you
want, but always remember, photography is fun, always keep things in focus and enjoy what you do.

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