As a photographer you want to be able to deliver beautiful, unique and engaging pictures that tell a story. A great way to achieve this is by opting for a location shoot. There are a few things to take into consideration when looking for locations, especially if they’re for portrait photoshoots.

Be inspired by your subject

A great way to find a location that will suit your subject is by getting some inspiration from them. Become better acquainted with them and ask them a few personal questions, such as what their hobbies are, what their likes and dislikes are etc. This will give you a brief idea of what type of person they are making the search a lot easier.

The reason this works effectively is because you’re choosing a location based on your subjects personality and putting them in an environment that they’re familiar with.  This will automatically make them feel more relaxed and give you the opportunity to take incredible and natural pictures, capturing their individuality.

Lighting and timing


When it comes to outdoor shoots take particular note (especially if you plan on using natural light) to the positioning of the sun. The time of day is vital, for example the sun is at its peak during midday making it a lot harder to get rid of shadows on your subject.

The best time to shoot outdoors is either in the morning or late afternoon. If you’re scheduled to shoot at midday ensure that you shoot in the shade so that you can balance and enhance the pictures taken. A great tip to use when shooting during midday is to make use of artificial lighting and position the subjects face in different angles to optimize the lighting.

Busy backgrounds & busy locations

Avoid locations with busy and colorful backgrounds as this will take the focus of the subject. If you are stuck in a situation with a busy background then compromise and blur the background to allow the subject to stand out. (Make use of a long lens in this case.)

There are a few instances where busy background work well with photos, provided that you use leading lines to lure the viewer’s eyes to the main element or subject. Leading lines create a certain depth to pictures, making them great to feature in portraits. The wonderful thing about leading lines is that you can use anything around the location that leads back to the main subject. Be creative with this one!

On the other hand, busy locations might sound great to shoot in, but they honestly tend to complicate your job. Being surrounded by noise and crowds of people can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety for you and your subject. Subconsciously this affects both of you from performing to the best of your ability. In a busy environment the subject might become self-aware and unable to relax resulting in “stiff” pictures.


It could also be a challenge for you as a photographer to deal with masses of people walking by. You will have to be extremely patient and wait for people to move out of the frame so that you can do your thing.

Angles will also be restricted and it will be particular difficult trying out different movements when you’re shooting in a busy location. Ideally it’s better to pick a quieter location so that your work and your subjects’ performance won’t be compromised.

Unexpected weather

Mother Nature sometimes has a mind of her own, and unpredictable weather is something that you need to take into account when doing a location shoot. Always have a backup plan for bad weather, make sure that there is some sort of shelter that won’t entirely ruin the shoot in case of rain.

Preparing for unexpected weather will not only save you time, but save you the agony of having damaged equipment that will need to be replaced

Add a personal touch

Give the subject an opportunity to do a picture that entails one of their ideas in the location. This will give the photos a nice personal touch and allow them to shine through. It will increase the enjoyment for both you and your client, adding something unique to the photo-shoot.