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Picking a location for your photo shoot is always one of the most important and, sometimes, most intimidating choices you can make. You want a location that offers good options for lighting, backgrounds, and also just generally fits your vibe. To help you narrow down your options, I made a four question quiz that will give you your next photo shoot location based on your vibes and aesthetic. Get it below!
Now that you know which of these options is perfect for you, scroll on down and read all about your new favorite place!
Wineries check a lot of boxes when it comes to photo shoot locations. They generally have a lot of space to work with, are recognizable, and will automatically elevate any outfit. Most wineries also have two distinct areas: the tasting area and the actual growing area. Depending on the owners, you may get to use both. Obviously getting into the actual vines is the best option, no matter the season. Winery vines are pretty recognizable, even in the dead of winter when there isn’t anything on them.
In terms of outfits, wineries work as a background for anything from chic casual all the way up to elegant. The only thing I wouldn’t shoot at a winery is lounge wear, but that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out a cool way to do it. I’ve shot everything from day time looks to a proposal at a winery. They all work and they all look great. Wineries also have really easy and obvious options for props. One glass of wine could be a prop in multiple photos and for multiple outfits.
(Just as a note – I always ask ahead of time before shooting at a winery. Nine out of ten times folks have been thrilled to let me use their space. I always tag their social media profiles and geotag the winery as a thank you.)
I called this category ‘botanical garden’, but you can make any garden or park work. The goal is to have a lot of lush greenery and florals in the background. The best thing about a garden or park is the variety that they can offer. Ange is pictured above in front of one of the many flower beds in that garden. She could’ve walked over to the next one, posed differently, and had an entirely different photo while only taking a few steps.
Outfit options can also span a pretty wide range. I think that fun, colorful outfits look the best in a garden setting, but you do have to be careful that a busy background doesn’t compete too much with an eye-catching outfit. If you’re going to do elegant in a garden or park, I generally think that a more flowing gown or dress matches the vibe better than a tight, metallic number. Also shoes are a consideration, not only for aesthetic purposes, but, if the subject will be walking on soft ground, you’ll want to avoid heels.
Looking at the photo below, part of what I think saves it from being busy is that the background is slightly out of focus. Ange draws your eye because she is clearly in focus and in the middle of the photo. It also helps that the lighting in the back is fairly even, so there are no hot spots or highlight to distract the eye.
When picking a historical backdrop, I always think it should be serving some sort of purpose. Photographing a set of daytime chic outfits with a clearly historical background doesn’t usually make a ton of sense. But, maybe you are busting out your best outfit because the location is a historical mansion. Or maybe it is a bit of a themed shoot, so you are dressing to match the location. (or chose the location based on your desired theme.) As you can see in the photo above, Sarah’s outfit isn’t something straight out of Ancient Greece, but her flowing dress and gladiator sandals are complementing the columns and overall Greek architecture.
The trick to making sure a historical location doesn’t look cheesy, is to either dress to the occasion in terms of formality or to go for it with a bit of a costume. In the photo on the left, Rachel looks elegant and is matching the elegant vibes of the mansion. On the right, Ange is totally going for the costume/themed shoot. The goal is for the outfit to feel like something someone would wear to that location, regardless of who they are. Think through the ‘story’ of the photo shoot and make sure it aligns with the historical location. If you do that, you’ll be all set.
A town or city setting is always the most relatable and the easiest for the audience to picture themselves in. This is the time for your chicest everyday outfits. Take common pieces and elevate them. Style something in an unexpected way. Show people how to wear clothes they probably already have in their closet. The sky is the limit for both outfit combinations and for accessories. Anything that someone would actually carry down the street is up for grabs in these photos. Hats. Purses. Other bags. Pets. Significant others.
I always feel like these type of photos are perfect for showing off the subject’s personality. In the photo above, Olivia is smiling and laughing, which is totally true to her in real life. It is like you looked over your shoulder walking down the street and there she was!
One tip for taking photos downtown – pick a slightly off time to try to minimize crowds in the background. (Unless you want a really busy scene in the back.) Olivia and I shot on a Sunday evening in the summer so all of the shops were already closed by the time we started. We barely encountered anyone else as we wandered the streets and followed the good light.
If you’ve made it this far without taking the quiz – what are you doing?! Take it right now!
If you already took it, then I hope this post gave you even more ideas for your next shoot! You now know the perfect place for it to be, all you have to do are pick some killer outfits and start shooting!
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Hi, I'm Dylan, a photographer in the Philadelphia Metro Area. I love iced coffee, red wine, and am always up for binging Gilmore Girls or Parks and Rec..