We found this photoshoot location at random one day while walking through the park – it became our exclusive Easter mini-session location for 2021!

Finding the perfect photoshoot location may seem like a big deal – but, it does not have to be difficult. A location usually drives some of the other decisions you will need to make about your shoot so it’s important to choose the right place (but it doesn’t have to be “perfect” – we’ll get into that later). Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you decide on a location.

What kind of “feel” or theme do I want?

While both images above are family photos – both have a very different feel. The main factor between that difference, is the location. The one on the left is more earthy – almost explorative. The one on the right is feels warmer and relaxing. Vacation is the first thing that comes to mind.

If a particular building or natural backdrop would work well with your theme, look around your area for spots that meet your requirements.

If you don’t know what you want, take the time to drive around town one afternoon. You’d be surprised what you may find right in your own backyard! If you still don’t know or you feel a little overwhelmed (don’t worry if you do, it’s very common) – ask family, friends, in social media groups or even the photographer!

finding the perfect photoshoot location
Tip: If you find a location or backdrop that you love – visit that location around the time that you’d have your photoshoot. Seeing as the location and direction of the sun plays a big factor in great photos – a location can look completely different at different times of the day! This isn’t required, but it could be the “tipping factor” in in helping you pull the trigger on a location (or vice-versa).

Do I have permission to take photos there?

The location that I took this photo at requires a permit to photograph paying clients. Chatham Manor, Fredericksburg Virginia.

It’s an obvious question, I’m sure. But it’s a question that slips many minds while thinking of a location to take pictures at. We totally get it. You have the perfect idea of what your photos will look like and that’s what you’re focused on. It’s completely understandable.

But, if you find yourself thinking of a location that’s private property – or you have to question (for any reason), whether it’s legal to take photos at that location – you’ll want to make sure you can. It’s best to ask if you can or ask for permission.

person writing on white paper
Be sure to check if permits are required. Continue reading below to see the options you have pertaining to permits.
Tip: If the location that you’ve chosen says they require a permit (a lot of locations are capitalizing on the vast number of photographers these days) – there are three things you can do:
  • Choose a different location (obviously haha!)
  • Pay for the permit yourself. Be sure to schedule it for the time of your session (some permits are granted on an hourly basis).
  • Ask your photographer to if they could take care of it (if they’re more experienced with permits/permissions). Be sure to add the cost to your sessions’ total.

Is the location accessible?

finding the perfect photoshoot location
Locations seen above are fantastic for photos. Keep in mind that areas like these are far off the beaten path and you’ll have to walk to locations like this.

This is another question that is easy to forget or think about. Is the location you’re thinking of accessible? We mean that literally. Are you able to get to it during that time of year? Remember, lakes, steams, even small rivers freeze over in the winter and may be flowing (violently) in the warmer months.

Also, how difficult is it getting to the location? Is your photographer bringing a lot of equipment (flashes, light stands, soft boxes, etc.). If you’re determined and want a location that’s difficult to access, just let your photographer know. I’m sure he/she will be more than OK with it but letting him/her know before hand gives them time to prepare.

How do I get to the location?

finding the perfect photoshoot location
Questions to think about – is the location easy to get to? Can I GPS the location or is it in the middle of no-where (no physical address)? Will I be able to explain how to get there to my photographer?

Feeding off the last question…Will it be easy to walk to the session location and if not, are you able to change your clothing and touch up your hair and makeup before the shoot? Will you need to bring hiking boots and then change into something more elegant once there?

Related post: Posing tips for your family photos

If you have children, will they have an issue walking the distance or terrain? If they won’t, how will they be once they get to the location. Will they be able to wind-down enough to take a few posed photos?

finding the perfect photoshoot location
Keep the little ones in mind when thinking about the location. You don’t want to have to hike a mile to the location with your child that dislikes hiking altogether.

Also, if you have chosen the location try and meet up with your photographer so you all can go together. This is a great because you don’t have to explain it or send them a pin on a map. This is a great opportunity for the photographer to take photos while everyone is walking (assuming he/she doesn’t have too much equipment and/or is absorbing every opportunity to take photos of you (we do this OFTEN! Some of the best photos we have ever taken!)).

Tip: Make sure to check and see if there is a restroom nearby. If there isn’t, it’s better to be mentally prepared for that situation than to find out while on location that there isn’t one!

Will the photo session be in a public place?

If the location you have chosen has a lot of foot traffic, you need to ask yourself whether you are comfortable being photographed in front of others. If not, you might want to rethink your choice in location

Make sure that your location doesn’t become a distraction and that there is shelter nearby if you need it. Your location tells a story so it’s worthwhile to choose a meaningful spot.

BONUS:

Be ok with a location not being “perfect”. You’ll have pros and cons about every location you think of. This is completely OK and normal.

We know our title is finding the perfect photo shoot location – but honestly, you shouldn’t be looking for anything “perfect” to begin with. We all know that nothing is perfect.

A “well rounded” location that hits the majority of the points we stated and tells your story will be just fine. Don’t let “perfect” hinder or hold you up on pulling the trigger on a great location.

Assuming your photographer is great at what they do – your photos will turn out amazing regardless!

We hope we’ve helped you in finding the perfect photoshoot location for your next session!

finding the perfect photoshoot location
YOU have a great day! We hope we’ve helped you in finding the perfect photoshoot location for your next session!

We know this is a lot to take in and a lot of questions you need to ask yourself… but you need to ask these questions. If for any reason you find yourself saying no to even one – you may want to reconsider your location. There is nothing worse than having everything lined up and excited about your session to find out there’s a snag in your plans.

We hope we have helped you in narrowing your search for the perfect photo shoot location. If you find yourself in the San Diego area and are looking for a photographer duo (my wife and I!) that loves what they do – look no further. Contact us or checkout our Family Packages and what we have to offer!

Get to know more about us here. You’ll learn what drives us and why we are so passionate about what we do!

Until next time, take care and be safe!!!

Sincerely, J&R


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