Scout II

Two weeks ago I wrote about how I begin location scouting (specifically for engagement shoots)To reiterate, I look for 1. Locations with good light. 2. Locations with a “clean” background. 3. Locations that make sense (for the couple). Once I have found the perfect location(s) for my couple, then I begin to craft a story to go with. This is the next part of location scouting and session planning for me.

This next phase of the process looks something like this:

1. Put potential locations in order. When I speak with a couple, I ask a few questions to find out what their likes and dislikes are, what they do for fun, how they got engaged, even who their favorite artist is…These questions all help me to craft a story for their engagement session. Maybe the session involves spending a day by the river with their puppy dog, fly-fishing, and ending the hot day with a dip in the water…

This session all came about after first, finding out the couple’s likes and dislikes, then finding out locations that will have awesome light, clean backgrounds and make sense to the couple, then taking those locations and putting them in an order that might happen naturally, if they had planned the day themselves…

Like this session, where the couple loves to hang out in the city… starting the day with Stumptown coffee, walking hand in hand in their new neighborhood, and eating a great meal at a fun new restaurant…

The choices for these locations all come from the ideas the couple gives me ahead of time. That’s not to say they tell me exactly where they want to shoot, often the location is a translation of their “ideal day” or a nod to a certain aspect of their hobby…then I take that idea and find the best location, with all of the elements I listed in the previous post. And again, if the couple does have a very specific location they want to shoot in, I absolutely incorporate that into the session.

We usually finish the day maximizing the golden hour outside, if possible, and shooting until past sunset sometimes, to take advantage of that great light I spoke about in the previous post

2. Tell the couple the plan for the session. I definitely find that it’s helpful to go over the session locations with the couple. This gives them a chance to speak up and gives them a say in the process. If, for example, I didn’t know that the couple had a bad experience at a park that I had chosen, this is their opportunity to change it. We discuss whether the order makes sense to them (I also tell them why I’ve chosen that particular order) and then we talk about how long we will spend in each place. Once we’ve had this discussion, it’s pretty much set. I do this for two reasons: a) This lets the couple be a part of the process and really makes sure the locations make sense to them b) It makes sure that on the day of the session we don’t spend any time on logistics, we just go and focus on the important things, like having fun and making the couple look and feel amazing!

3. Pre-scout the locations at the actual time of the session. From day to day the location can change! For example, a photographer friend of mine was just asking if anyone knew of a wheat field where she could shoot because the one she had scouted had been cut! If you don’t pre-scout it in the days leading up to, you might be out of luck (and even if you do that, there’s no guarantees, so you have to be willing to be flexible). The thing that fluctuates the most though, of course, is the light. From spring to autumn and morning to evening, of course the light will be different. But, even week to week the changing of the light can dictate how and where you shoot. Of course you’re saying, “Duh, Kathryn!” but I’m stating the obvious in hopes that it will help someone to realize how much it can dictate the location you will shoot in…One time, in late summer, I scouted a location about 3 weeks ahead of time. I planned the whole shoot, with 3 locations, the last one being right at the end of golden hour, and just before sunset. In late July, the sun lasted and lasted until it slowly melted over the mountaintop. By late August, it didn’t so much melt as evaporate. As we were shooting in the second location, I saw how quickly the sun was setting…we had to rush to the last location to get just the last hints of sun as it set (vanished) from the sky. We ended up shooting after sunset, and those were actually really beautiful too, but it was a much shorter timeframe and we lost out on those amazing shots I had planned in that location. Here’s how it looked…

These are the next few steps in location scouting…In the next week or so  I will share with you the rest of the process!

And, as I said in the previous post on this topic, sometimes I think I’m explaining things well, but turns out it can be more confusing…if you need further clarification, I’m happy to answer your questions! Feel free to comment, or email me:

{♥ ♥ ♥}


p.s. (In case you missed this the last time)…If you’re a couple who is engaged, what is important to you to include in your engagement session? If you are a photographer, how do you scout for locations? …leave your comments below!


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