How to Choose a Location for Your Photo Shoot

If you are the type of photographer, that like me, prefers to work outdoor rather then in a studio, the effort in choosing the right locations is quite challenging. Needless to say, the choice of location will determine the success of your photo shoot. I am laying out a few basic principals that one has to keep in mind when considering a particular location.

outdoor portrait

Photo by Michael Salvato; ISO 50, f/1/4, 1/6400-second exposure.


Timing your photo shoot is tricky, particularly in those areas that are frequented by numerous people. Determine if you are working in the morning, mid day, evening or night. Apart the quality of light that you are looking for, it is suggested that you find a time frame when the place you have mind is the least busy. Both you and the models can easily be distracted by activities in the background, thus not giving your best.

Also, no matter how hard you try to avoid people in the background while shooting, back at the office you will find that occasionally a head would pop up in your background. With a little care and attention the amount of work needed to edit you photographs later on can be greatly reduced.


Depending on the type of photo shoots you have in mind, it will influence the degree of privacy that is expected from a particular site. Since most of the sites are public places, the level of privacy is limited. Still, if you search and probe the various spots available, you are sure to find a couple of secluded scenes adapted to your specific photo shoot themes.

As a side note, it is of the utmost importance that you offer your models an adequate place where they can change their clothes between different sets.

Adjust clothing for the terrain

A good friend of mine had his whole photo shoot spoiled because his model had strained her ankle, while walking on high heels on a pebbled coast. Though it might be common sense for some, for many it is not.

fashion shoot

Photo by Rihtor; ISO 100, f/3.2, 1/640-second exposure.

You have to assess the area properly and advice your models accordingly. If on your way to the beach, you have to pass through a spiny low shrubby belt, make sure that the models are properly clothed to protect themselves from any possible bruises. Like wise, if you have to cross a watercourse, make sure that both you and the models are wearing non slip runners. Furthermore, a basic first aid kit can turn out to be very useful.


Is the area accessible by walk, car or plane? This is vital since it will determine the type of gear needed. One has to keep in mind, that the more difficult it is to access an area, the more the expenses tend to shoot up.

I remember on one occasion, we had to use horses in order to make it to a particular location. There was no way we could make it by walk or vehicles. To make the most out of it, in terms of use and expenses, we had taken advantage and included the horses in a couple of shoots too! If you are on a tight budget, you should always assess the area properly to establish if it is feasible or not.


An important point to keep in mind is that certain areas are protected by copyright or need special permits in order to do your photo shoot. In both cases, you need to get your permits in order before planning any further. Some would be quite easy to get, others can be more demanding.

photo shoot

Photo by Yen-Kwang Chen; ISO 50, f/2, 1/100-second exposure.

To sum it all up, in order to get the best out of your location you have to assess the area accurately weeks and months beforehand. In planning ahead you avoid waste of time and disappointments.

About the Author:
Michael Abela ( is a member of the Malta Photographic Society (MPS), a public speaker and an article writer for various entities.

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4 responses to “How to Choose a Location for Your Photo Shoot”

  1. Andrea-Mai says:

    Great article, definately some food for thought.

  2. Paul H says:

    You should include a point on safety. A more and more common event is someone loosing their life while trying to get the picture with the most unusual back ground. Here is an article of one that happened in the last 48 hours

  3. EB says:

    Great article! I use this app called Explorest to find photoshoot locations outdoors, and then I use this app called AGENT to book models, and with the AGENT app I am able to book the model I want directly through the app, so it’s very easy and convenient.

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