Location Scouting

“The location, it’s GOLD . While anyone can shoot a pretty picture, a unique location can make a memorable and powerful photograph and thus YOU become memorable photographer”! 

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Need more proof? Think about it, there are reasons so much goes into location scouting for shooting movies, commercials and advertising”! For years I’ve done my best to offer up photography that takes place in unique locations. My locations often take place in or near or feature buildings and structures that could fall under the title “Condemned”. The grittier the better!

Over the years I’ve grown used to being asked by fellow photographers and models

“Where is that place”?

“How’d you find that location”?

These questions have always been followed up with by

“Can you share that location”? Or “Did you get permission to shoot there”?

In this post I will address what goes into Location Scouting. When I need a location for a shoot I’ll expend about 10% of my effort on Google. Maybe 3% on talking to others on Social Media. The rest is spent pouring over maps and driving around in my car very slowly with my camera and a notepad close at hand. It’s a long and drawn out process that eats up time and gas. If you’re afraid of getting lost and or can not read a map, location scouting may not be for you, but for those who are adventurous the experience is more than worth the occasional wrong turn. The biggest problem I’ve encountered is that for the most part backroads lack a shoulder to pull into, and just parking your car in the road can be dangerous. My advice is this, find a friend and have them drive while you sit in the passenger seat and scout. They can drive while you hop out and get quick shots of places that catch your eye. You may have to buy lunch and road snacks (gas if you’re not using your car) but it’s worth it! Be sure to jot down turns, road names, Highway numbers and anything else of the like. Such information will always come in handy.

Now that I’ve answered the “How” and  “Where”  I can take on “Can you share the location with me”? If this seems like an easy enough request to accommodate then please go back to the paragraph above and read it again. It’s not an easy request for me to grant. After I factor in time, effort and expenses “No”  is usually my answer, unless and there is always an unless, the person asking has a similar location to exchange. But I’d be lying if I said that such an information exchange works for me all the time. Why? Because as I stated at the beginning I like my work to have a level of uniqueness that separates it from others. Choose carefully to whom you share locations and the reason for doing so.

And finally I can address the dreaded “Did you get permission to shoot there”?

Oh and “What if the police were to ask what you’re up to”?

Honestly my answer to the first question is usually “No, I didn’t ask”. The majority of the time there is little if anyway of finding the person I’d have to get permission from, however if you do write down road names and such you do have the beginning of an information trail and can seek permission that way. But often I simply go ahead take the risk and shoot. As for the police? My experience thus far has been this. I walk around with my camera at shoulder height where the police can see it and most drive off leaving me be. I’ve had police and a few State Troopers look at me and say “Yeah that camera pretty much tells me you’re likely not up to anything too stupid or illegal”. Have the  authorities ever asked me to leave? No, not yet but there is always a first time for everything. If the occasional bit of Trespassing or Breaking and Entering of a location or condemned property is worrisome to you, then once again Location Scouting may not be for you. Other hazards to keep in mind are dogs, barbed wire, poison ivy, bees, hornets, spiders, buck shot, and of course structures that could collapse while you’re exploring.  Risks like these are why I’m a bit stingy with my locations, as you should be too.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. Ultimately I wanted you the reader to know some of the effort, costs and risks that go into the photography I do. One last bit of insight to pass on for the intrepid Location Scout. Before heading out and while out let a friend or family member know the general are you’ll be in. It will save you a bit of hassle when folks get worried and should you become injured it could actually save your life.

List of supplies I generally take along a Location hunt. 

Camera, note book, a gallon of water and or anti-freeze, spare tire, matches or a lighter, a cooler with bottled water or what you like, energy bars etc. Also a good idea to take along a glow stick or two, an extra set of clothes, hiking boots if you have them and a pocket knife and yes keep a First Aid kit in your car.

Should you wish to hire me to do a shoot that could add to your portfolio or if you just want an amazing photograph of yourself by all means contact me at 615-977-2695.Of course if you’ve any questions or comments please leave them at the space provided or email me at jerry.winnett@gmail.com 

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