As photographers, you’ll often have to deal with the unknown. You won’t always be able to scout locations before the shoot, and sometimes you’ll just have to work with what you have. Photographer Manny Ortiz shares three tips that will help you shoot even in really bad locations. You need to take the most of what you have, and these tips will show you how to do it.
1. Focus on the details
When you look at the location as a whole, it may seem unattractive and you may want to go somewhere else. Since it won’t always be possible, try this technique: stop looking at the location as a whole. Instead, focus on the details and try breaking down what you see. Search for interesting details, textures, patterns and leading lines. There may even be some elements you can use as props in your photos. As Manny puts it: “Be the lens.” In other words, imagine looking at everything through your lens and focusing on the details.
2. Use a wide aperture/telephoto lens
When you’re at a bad location, there’s probably nothing bokeh couldn’t hide, right? This is why Manny suggests using a wide aperture lens. The reason to use a telephoto lens is the background compression. It will allow you to step back, zoom in on your subject and only get a small part of the location in the background. You have some useful examples here.
3. Don’t be afraid to take a bad photo
Sometimes, “trial and error” approach id the best way to go. Don’t be afraid to take lots of tests shots, even if they don’t turn out right. Experiment with the location and try some things you otherwise wouldn’t. You may be surprised that some of them actually work and give you neat shots. I really like the photo Manny uses as an example. After some testing and experimenting, he ended up with this portrait, shot at a pretty unattractive location:
To demonstrate what he says in the video, Manny chose an uninteresting location and tried taking as many creative shots as he could:
With his beautiful wife Diana as a model, these are some of the photos they ended up with:
So, next time you’re stuck in a bad location, remember these tips and try them out. I’m sure you’ll be happy with the results.
[3 TIPS for BETTER photos in BAD locations | Manny Ortiz]