Get the Most Out of Your Portrait Session: Part Two, Location
Last time, we gave you some tips on selecting clothing for your portrait session. This time, we’re going to talk about location. The location has the ability to set the whole tone of your images. Of course, we have a list of locations we visit regularly in case you’re stumped, and I’ll share some of those a little later. But when you select the location, it’s even better. Here’s why…
We’re All Collaborators
If you give us a call thinking we have every single tool necessary to make A-list images every time, you’re sorely mistaken. Sure we have all the gear, years of experience and plenty of enthusiasm. But there’s something we’re missing. You—not as a subject, but as a creative mind is a powerful element in the process of making great images. Usually, the more creatively involved you are, the better.
We like to think of our customers as collaborators, helping us create great images. When you take it upon yourself to decide on a great location, you get your own creative juices flowing. All of a sudden, your photographer isn’t just working for you, he’s working with you. Though it seems subtle, you’re more likely to arrive thinking creatively, thinking about what you can do to bring out the best in your images. And sometimes, that’s the difference between good images and great ones.
So, if you think you’re up for the challenge, and I’m sure you are, lets get a little more specific.
What to Look For in a Location
Picking a great location may seem daunting, but it’s not as hard as it sounds. What kind of location you choose depends mostly on your own taste. Do you like things a little more traditional? How about a garden, or waterfront. Do you like things edgy? Try a worn out building. Regardless of what your taste is, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Variety is key. Paramount to a great shooting location is variety; nice foliage, flowers, water, a playground, interesting buildings, old railways. The more variety a single location has the more interesting your images will be. Of course, that doesn’t mean great images can’t be captured in a location without much variety, but it sure does help.
2. Landscape Grooming. Depending on your own taste, you’ll want to consider whether the location has landscaping that is well groomed. For example, public and private parks are usually professionally maintained. Run down buildings are not. Which one is right, is all up to you.
3. Interesting Structures. Staircases, stones, walls, paths, bridges, sculptures. Structures like these can add an interesting dimension to your images. A location that contains things like these will be most likely help bring out the best.
Think Outside the Box
If you find you’re more interested in creative images, than traditional ones, then try your best to think outside the box. What about shooting in a restaurant, or grocery store—of course you would have to ask the manager first. Or what about the rooftop of your office building, or a drive in movie theater?
The possibilities stretch further than I could measure. And provided we don’t violate any regulations, and don’t create a significant liability, I say, let’s go for it! Get creative, collaborate with us!
Just not your thing?
That’s okay. Collaboration isn’t for everyone. We’re professionals. Our job is to create great images, without you having to know how. Here are the top six locations we visit on a regular basis. If you’re stumped pick the one closest to you.
Brookside Gardens – Bethesda, MD
Brookside Gardens is a well-groomed, beautiful location with a lot of variety. It is definitely for those with a taste for ‘pretty’ things. Brookside Gardens has a simple permit process, which is free of charge.
Watkins Park – Kettering, MD
Watkins Park is a great location for children. There is a large playground area, nice foliage, a full sized carousel and a family train ride. Admission is free, though the train ride and carousel have a small fee for each rider.
Belair Mansion & Foxhill Park – Bowie, MD
The Belair Mansion and Foxhill Park grounds are situated very close to one another, though selecting one location is better than attempting to shoot at both, since the grounds are very large. Both locations offer a well-groomed landscape, and very old rock and brick structures, as well as a lake.
Downtown Waterfront – Annapolis, MD
The downtown waterfront in Annapolis is not limited just to the water, there are also countless side streets, ally ways, curbside cafes and historical buildings. A beach and more rural looking area are also less than 5 minutes away.
Quiet Waters Park – Annapolis, MD
Quiet Waters, like Brookside Gardens, is definitely for those who like things a little bit more traditional. The grounds are very well kept, and offer a lot of variety; from open fields, interesting sculptures and brick buildings, to wooded paths and beaches. Quiet Waters has a nominal admission fee for each car, which you will be responsible for paying.
Downtown Residential & Commercial Waterfront – Alexandria, VA
The entire waterfront portion of Alexandria, like Annapolis, is ripe with variety. Everything from the more formal to the edgy can be found there. And, like Annapolis, Alexandria offers numerous side streets and shops to help add dimension to your images.