Amie has a great question here. When I first started I used the same two park locations almost exclusively. Here in Arizona, we don't often feel like we have much to work with. Brown, brown and more brown. And consistently harsh sunlight. It can be tough. So I felt safe sticking with parks that had some shade. But I quickly felt bored and uninspired. So I decided to branch out and have my clients get involved in choosing the location. This is especially true for engagement shoots but even for family portraits.

When a couple books their wedding with me, I email them a questionnaire that helps me get to know them even better. On it, among others, are questions about what they enjoy doing as a couple and where they often spend their time. This gives me some great ideas about where we can do their shoot.

In the instance of Katina and Robert, they said that they enjoy doing home improvement projects together and that their home-away-from-home is Home Depot. So I suggested we do their engagement shoot there. The shoot turned out to be so much fun! We didn't ask permission from Home Depot to do the shoot--and as I've said in past posts, it's better not to--and we did get stopped by one employee early on in the shoot wondering what we were up to. I answered lightly that this couple loves Home Depot SO much that they wanted to do their engagement shoot here. "Isn't that great--free advertising for you guys!" He smiled and left us alone.
Recently we did part of Graham and Stephanie's engagement shoot in a movie theater. And we did end up getting kicked out but we also got a few fun shots before we got the boot.
In that same shoot, we were at an outdoor mall and got some fun shots in front of brightly colored walls, etc. Then I saw these fun plants and got a few shots of the couple in amongst them. The way I shot it makes them look like they're in the middle of a field (which we really have none of here in AZ) but in reality we're surrounded by buildings and people.
I love the challenge of going into a new place that I've never scoped out before and getting great photos.

Josh and Elaine love hanging out at book stores together so we went to Barnes and Noble:
When I get the chance to travel, I like to do that as well. Shannon and Greg and I drove a few hours north to Jerome and walked around this cute town for their engagement shoot:
We happened upon this fun VW van and had to use it:
Alison and Miles love animals so we did their shoot at the zoo. Because of the time of day we went, the animals weren't really out but we just walked around getting some beautiful shots in the area:
Living in Arizona, we get tired of the desert landscaping. But oftentimes, that's what we have to work with. So in the words of Tim Gunn, we "make it work."
Because I oftentimes shoot in new locations, I have to go into the shoot really looking for the right light and backgrounds to shoot in. It's challenging but I really enjoy it. Every shoot I get some shots that I know will work and then I experiment with new things that are if-y. It's a great way to push yourself and your work to new levels.

I realize that the examples I've given here are all for engagement shoots. But you can apply some of the same approach to family shoots as well. Oftentimes families will tell me that they prefer a park or their home for the shoot. But if they are more open to trying something out of the box, I like to ask them about what they enjoy doing as a family. I did one shoot for a friend and her family at an ice skating rink. Super-fun.

Great question Amie! If anyone else has fun ideas on locations, please feel free to share a comment below!
+ Comment +