March 11, 2022

5 Tips for Picking Your Photoshoot Location

You’ve done it! You’ve taken the plunge and invested in a professional photographer to freeze these amazing moments of you and your loved ones in timeless images. The next step? Picking the perfect photoshoot location.

Before I go into how to pick your photoshoot location, I want to talk a little bit about why this is important. I’m a firm (and I mean FIRM) believer that professional photography shouldn’t just be about the images you end up with, but they should be about how you felt while taking them. The final result could be images that are beautifully composed with the most perfect lighting. But if you felt like crap when you were actually taking the photos, that’s what you’re going to remember whenever you look at them. It’s ALL about your photoshoot experience – and it starts with choosing a location that you love.

So now that I’m off of my soap box (sorry not sorry lol), let’s get into my 5 tips for picking your photoshoot location.

Portrait of a woman and her dog smiling at each other in a location with greenery

1. Choose a photoshoot location that holds significant meaning to you and the people closest to you.

This is my number one, go-to tip for every photoshoot. Whenever possible, shoot at a location that actually means something to you all. This could be a specific location – like the beach where you had your first kiss, or the park where you always go for your family picnics. This could also be a general type of location. If you and your partner love surfing, somewhere with an ocean view would be perfect. If hiking is a big part of your life, let’s hit up the mountains!

Wherever you end up for your photoshoot, make sure it’s a location that fits your personality/lifestyle and that will ensure you look and feel comfortable in front of the camera.

Maternity photoshoot. Woman clinging to her husband's arm as they smile at the camera on location in Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

2. Go off the beaten path.

It’s no secret that crowded areas make for a tough photoshoot. Not only do you run into the possibility of having a stranger in the background ruin a great photo, but (if you’re anything like me) posing in front of a camera gets 10x harder when there are strangers all around you.

It typically doesn’t take much to move away from the crowds – it’s usually as simple as a short walk away from the main street, or parking in a slightly different location than everyone else. Plus, an added benefit is that you’ll end up with photos that are different (and always better) than everyone else’s!

Family photoshoot. A young child smiling at the camera while sitting on his dad's shoulders. Dad is smiling at mom and mom is smiling at the child. The location is St. Joseph Cathedral.

3. Location access.

There are about a million gorgeous photoshoot locations in San Diego, but not all of them come with easy access. Is there parking close to your chosen spot or will you need to walk/hike? Can you get everyone from your car to the location safely and easily? Will everyone be able to make it there and still be photoshoot-ready? Do you need a permit for photography, or is photography even permitted there?

This is particularly important to think about for family sessions with small children, but these are things to think about even if it’s just you and your partner. When in doubt, you can always run these questions by your photographer!

Maternity photoshoot. A man and pregnant woman walking across a bridge in Mission Trails Regional Park, the location is surrounded by trees

4. Consider the time of day.

It’s been said a thousand times before that golden hour is “the best time of day to do a photoshoot”. But what happens if you can’t do a photoshoot during golden hour because of your work schedule. Or because you have a baby who needs to be asleep by a certain time. Or even because you just don’t like that golden hour look (which is 100% okay).

If you schedule a photoshoot for mid day, in the middle of summer, don’t despair. Just maybe think a little bit about where you’re shooting. When the sun is shining bright, go for places with shade or shelter. (I love looking for photoshoot locations with trees overhead or buildings to block the sun.) Not only will this will help in getting rid of the harsh lighting, it’ll give you a break from the sun in between shooting. And let’s be real, no one wants to be sweaty in their photos.

5. A photoshoot location with variety in one spot.

Consider a location with variety so that you don’t end up with photos that all look the same. If you’re going to a beach-y vibe in your photos, you can look for these different backgrounds: the ocean, dramatic cliff formations, palm trees, underneath a pier. If you want more rustic, earthy photos, look for a grove of trees, a spot with a view of mountains, or maybe a field of wildflowers.

I like to aim for locations with 2-3 different areas to shoot in. This will ensure you get the most out of the hours you spend with your photographer.

When it comes down to it, choosing a location for your photoshoot doesn’t have to be stressful. You can always look to your photographer to guide you if you need some help. In the end, pick a spot that you love, and have fun!

All photos by Aurora G’rie Photography | View more galleries here

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