Cover_Photo_650wPhotographers draw inspiration from many sources, but none is more important than the scene of the shoot. One of the most tedious and difficult things that can often happen to photographers is to think of new locations for an upcoming photo or video shoot.

In addition, clients almost never know where to go and are more dependent on the direction of the photographer. This is why it’s important to always be on the lookout for new great scenes and to learn more about the art of location scouting. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect location for your next shoot:

Set Goals

As you set out to find new locations for a photo or video shoot, you’ll likely face countless possibilities that will make your job very overwhelming. Before you set out for a location scout, always have a goal or understand the story you’re trying to tell. You’re never bound by your locations, they’re simply backdrops that help tell a greater story.

The Greenbelt in Austin is a great outdoor location with a variety of hill country scenery.

Here are some things you will want to know or document when scouting locations:

  • Various detailed photos of the scene
  • Lighting
  • Pricing and availability
  • Capacity limits
  • Access to amenities (power, restrooms, etc…)
  • Parking
  • Safety
  • Contact information

It’s All About Timing

Locations can change and it’s wise to go check out the scene or scout for new scenes at the planned time of the photo or video shoot. This will help you plan accordingly and keep you from encountering any unpleasant surprises.

The time of day, week, year or season will dictate how many obstacles you will encounter and need to be prepared for. For example, if you have chosen to shoot at an historic landmark, you will want to visit at a time when there will not be a lot of traffic or tourists.

Timing and weather go hand-in-hand, so make sure to check the forecast. Snow, rain, sun, and wind can help or hurt your planned shoot. So, it’s critical to check the forecast as you’re scouting.

South Congress & Milton Street in Austin, TX. Great contrasting colors with fun possibilities.
South Congress & Milton Street in Austin, TX. Great contrasting colors with fun possibilities.

Look at the Light

Always, always, always pay attention to the available lighting. Interior shoots will almost always have limited levels of available light so make sure you have the necessary lighting equipment to help out. If you’re using larger light kits, make sure you have space and access to power outlets.

If your scene is outside, it’s important to take note of the time and the direction of the sun. Are you standing in a location that provides full sun, partial sun, or full shade? This is very important to know because bright light can be harsh on people’s skin and light-colored surfaces can be blown out.

Make sure to take a few test shots so that you can go home and preview how it will look.

South Congress & Milton Street in Austin, TX. Great contrasting colors with fun possibilities.
South Congress & Milton Street in Austin, TX. Great contrasting colors with fun possibilities.

Always Take Notes

Over time, scenes can lose their magic and most people don’t want to continuously use the same predictable backdrop. New scenes and inspiration can be found almost anywhere. Fortunately, we do live in a digital age where there are a few general solutions that help us find locations like Google Maps, but most current solutions don’t come close to providing the detailed information a photographer will need.

Most of us have the best possible scouting tool available on us at all times, and that is your handy dandy smartphone, which almost has everything you would need to start scouting and logging locations today.

Once you’ve trained yourself to see the potential or just pay attention to the details that can surround you, your workflow will greatly improve. We designed SceneScout to help this process and at any time you can scout, plan, and share your work with ease. Learn more by visiting our site or on the App Store.


Have you done any location scouting? Share your tips, questions, or experience in the comments below.

Author Info:
Sean Couch is a huge photo and video enthusiast and co-founder at SceneScout, a mobile app created to help professional photographers and videographers scout locations for photo or video shoots, plan, and share their work. You can learn more about the app at the SceneScout website and follow them on Twitter at @SceneScoutApp or like them on Facebook.