One of the most contributing factors to a great image is the location in which it’s taken. I’m a firm believer that location isn’t everything (unless you are a landscape photographer) because often lighting and your subjects will play a much bigger role. Still, I’d be totally lying if I said you can shoot anywhere and get the same look as another. For instance, if you want the romantic look of Paris with an Eiffel Tower in the distance, you must be there in order to capture that. Just as flower fields are not the same as an empty field… there is beauty in each one of those places for particular reasons. Recreating other images found on Pinterest in your vicinity is often not possible because they are all unique in their own way.
When photographing portraits of couples and families, deciding where it is that the session will take place is a very important part of the planning process. (I’ve previously written an article to help you choose the look you are going for, you can check it out here.) There are some clients that already have a place in mind because they have previously seen a session shot there or have visited that place themselves. Then there are some clients that want to be taken somewhere exclusive. A secret spot. A place off the beaten road. The kind of places as photographers we collect and save for the right kind of shoot.
I am one of those location hoarders. I drive imagining certain locations and how it what they would look like if I added a couple to them. Some of these places aren’t parks or popular spots at all. Some of these places have a fence guarding them in. Some of these places I know have harsh conditions. Therefore I am very selective when bringing someone there. I understand not everyone is okay with trespassing a property in order to get a couple of pictures. It’s breaking the law and as a photographer, sometimes we just risk it… all for the sake of the images. Sure we can keep shooting in the same park over and over (Matheson Hammock Park is becoming that for me… I visit it at least once a month now.) but going somewhere new is always so exciting.
I often get asked where the picture above was taken. That session was so special to us that I don’t like to share it’s location. It’s one of those little secrets I like to keep to myself just because I am one of those people that feels that not everyone needs to know everything. I don’t have to share every bit of knowledge about my business with the internet. I LOVE helping others pursue their dreams of learning photography and I will continue to share the things I’ve learned with time but that doesn’t mean that I am willing to draw a map of every place I go just so that you can follow along. It’s just not me. So pardon me for ignoring all the questions I often get on Instagram trying to get information on locations. I honestly don’t mean to be stuffy and rude, I simply have no interest in making images less exciting for my couples and families by sharing every bit of detail that makes them special to them. Couples and families love being taken somewhere new, somewhere special. The fact that they have something that not everyone else has is a big deal for them. I have heard SO MANY TIMES, ‘I don’t want to shoot at the beach because everyone else does that.’ How sad to think that we dismiss one of the prettiest things about living in Miami just because its common. What would happen if every other spot was viewed the same way? As photographers we then would have to make up places our own to impress anyone with an image location. I’m sure many that ask aren’t even interested in taking pictures there themselves, they just want to visit a pretty place on the weekend perhaps. But the same principle applies, not everything will be shared.
Engagement session at a local park in an unexpected nook.
Engagement session shot in a field (that we trespassed) at the exact right time the sunflowers were at their peak bloom. Session below, random field we found while aimlessly driving around looking for an open sky (we trespassed a property during non business hours for this one).
The location of the image above might as well be our biggest secret. Local park, hidden spot with the worst conditions ever. You will get eaten my bugs any time of the day you come here… not for the faint of heart. The bottom image is a classic example of why shooting at the beach doesn’t always have to be boring for the Floridans. Rocks! Just a few rocks will change the scene dramatically.
Above, local park off the beaten path. Below, empty field in the middle of no where… I wouldn’t be able to get back there even if I tried, totally forgot that place. Even if I had it pinned on my phone and was able to reach it tomorrow, it might look completely different than it did that day.
So the next time you see a photographer post image you like and the location isn’t specified, admire all the factors that make you like that image. The time the photographer took to find that spot. His/her talent in properly exposing their camera to capture the image let alone the way they are telling the story in that very moment with what they chose to capture. Whether or not they have a subject in the image and how those subjects are adding beauty to the composition. The way they decided to finalize that image through their edits. And finally, the photographer’s excitement while sharing something they are proud of showcasing. Don’t ruin the magic, celebrate it!