By the nature of an event, like a wedding – it is a location shoot. The photographer must take the photos at the place chosen by the couple, and it can be one to five different locations. The location is not the only variance, as the locations can be;

  • Indoors
    • various light sources
    • almost dark
    • blend of natural and artificial light
    • restrictions on using flash
  • Outdoors
    • harsh sun
    • filtered sun
    • hard contrast (white background, black foreground)
    • harsh patterns (leaves for instance)
    • night time
    • moonlight
    • blend of natural and artificial light

As you can see there is a lot of variances in the lighting conditions making location shooting difficult and challenging.


Office Setting with White Background for Marketing

Office Setting with White Background for Marketing

Many photographers prefer the studio where they can control the light and get consistent results, with a variety of backgrounds that can be used to suit the person or people.

While that is preferred for consistency, it does tend to make the person or people being photographed uncomfortable. Factors that make the person or people uncomfortable are;

  • new surroundings
  • large artificial light sources
  • closeness of the photographer (distance)

As I already stated you get very consistent results from studio photography, the results can become a little staid and tired. Now this is not a problem for the creative photographer who can make every photo session look as fresh as the last. I have taken many studio photographs for business (such as the photo above) and individuals.

There are many advantages to a studio;

  • not reliant on the weather
  • consistent results
  • photography gear is safer in the studio
  • other people not getting in the way or making the person/people feel uncomfortable
  • change rooms are available
  • toilet and washroom facilities are available
  • last and not least is the photographer is comfortable the studio setup

Sounds great for the studio photographer. More and more people are looking for natural photos, which is difficult to achieve in a studio which is full of equipment, tripods, stands and lights. For models this is their working site and have grown accustomed to this environment.

On Location Shoot

Some photographers like myself prefer the on location shoot, even though it is more difficult. Inconsistencies with light and weather lead to more creativity, and inspiration.

Woman with blonde hair in garden

I feel the interaction of nature and the subject of the photo, play a very special part in creating an interesting atmosphere. This can lead to outstanding results and always interesting photos.

Sometimes locations will be indoors such as a home, beach shack or barn. Makeshift studio’s are setup at the location. People feel connected with the place and the photographs show that connection and how comfortable the person/people are with in their own environment.

Even though artificial lights are positioned near the same, the interaction with background, natural light bring many inconsistencies into play which must be accounted for to get great results. This can be challenging for the photographer, but that is why a photographer is hired – to get professional results.

The advantages to the person/people being photographed on a location shoot is;

  • the location can be their home, which is a huge advantage when photographing families, and getting the children ready.
  • they are familiar with the location
  • feel comfortable at the location
  • there tends to be greater distance between the photographer and the person/people
  • the photographs are more natural
  • there is a connection between the person/people and the environment
  • an atmosphere is created by the very location of the photography
  • shooting in the golden hour (the first and last hour of light) creates special photographs at outdoor locations.

But there also can be a lot of pitfalls that await a shoot on location;

  • there can suddenly be a lot of people there making the person/people having there photo taken uncomfortable
  • the weather can be poor – hot, cold, raining, windy
  • no change rooms
  • restricted access to toilets and washrooms

These disadvantages are not the case if the location is the clients home, but here there are some disadvantages here as well;

  • clients need to tidy up their home (especially for young families this can be a problem, due to children’s toys)
  • lack of space
  • distractions (phone, tv, etc)

At a clients home I setup my backdrop and flash units to create a studio setup if there is not an adequate background.

Despite the disadvantages I choose to be a location photographer as I enjoy the creative challenges it presents and the inspiration it provides.

Time of Day

The most important part of on location shooting that is taken outdoors, is the time of day.

It’s best to avoid the midday times in summer as there are not many places that provide great light when the sun is directly overhead, but in winter when the sun is at a low angle on the horizon, the light can still be great.

The best time in summer is an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. These times are called the golden hour.

The results will nearly always require the photographer to artificial light the person/people against a beautiful sunset or sunrise.

Does that mean you need to take all outdoor photographs in the golden hours?

If that is the mood you are after then, yes!

There are many moods to create with the interaction of the outdoors with the person/people. It depends on the location!

Sun directly overhead at 1pm - Taken under pergola with fill flash to the left to fill face and illuminate eye that is covered by hair.

Sun directly overhead at 1pm – Taken under pergola with fill flash to the left to fill face and illuminate eye that is covered by hair.

Photographers these days by using apps, can easily see how the angle of the sun will interact with any location in the world.

Before any shoot I always check the app, PhotoPills and Google Maps to advise my customers of the best time to shoot at their given location before I have even seen it. There is a lot to think of with location shooting but it is clearly, my choice.

It’s so inspiring.