With over 17 years of photographing professionally, we’ve seen our share of beautiful locations, some of which have been designed to look perfect. But not all locations have what many would consider “a lot to work with.” For example, a photo shoot could take place in a nondescript backyard. Or the light condition may be really harsh. Or perhaps, due to rain, the shoot may be moved indoors at the last minute. No matter the environment, it’s our job to make the photos look their very best!
When we are presented with a challenging location, there are two techniques that we like to follow. One is to use the location as it is. We incorporate the existing conditions into the photo shoot, and show the background as it is. Ex: if we are in a supermarket parking lot, this will be apparent in the finished images. We take what we have to work with, and find ways of making it interesting and creative.
The other technique we use is to re-purpose the environment. We basically work around the constraints of the location, looking for dramatic lines, angles, unique lighting and focal blurs. The result is nice stylized shots, even if you can’t tell exactly where they were photographed.
To demonstrate these techniques, and take you through our creative process, we selected a location in downtown San Diego. This spot is just down the street from our studio.
When looking critically, from our perspective, here is how we see the location:
When we scout out a location, we are looking at it from a very different frame of mind than the everyday eye. We look for opportunities that may typically go unseen. We start to look for potential opportunities that may photograph well.
Having scouted the location, and determined our plan, here are a few examples of the results.
Example 1: Traffic median and building under construction
Example 2: Normal street view
Example 3: A small spot of greenery
Example 4: A crosswalk under construction
For more creative uses of the city streets in our photography, check out our full gallery of urban downtown photos
See also: San Diego Affordable Photographers