Location scouting is one of the important parts of a photo shoot. There are a few ways to do it and in this video, Walid Azami suggests for of them. They’re all very efficient, but don’t come without some drawbacks. Walid reflects on both the good and the bad sides and gives you a whole lot of tips to make your location scouting just perfect.
1. Hiring a location scout
The first (and the most expensive) method is hiring a location scout. It costs from $350 per day to around $50 per hour, and this person can be the same one who will be your location manager on the day of the shoot.
A location scout will relieve you of many duties and free up your time to focus on photography. They cost you money, but they can also save you some money and certainly a lot of time. If you have a big shoot ahead and have a big budget, this is definitely something to consider.
2. Drive around
This is, so to say, the traditional way of location scouting. Get in your car, drive around, and see what you can find. You can also ride a bicycle, and I highly recommend it (that’s what I normally do). It’s cheaper because you don’t have any gas expenses. You get to enjoy the ride and fresh air, and it’s good for your health, too. Whichever means of transport you choose, it will allow you to experience the full location, see what the lighting is like and see the traffic and parking situation firsthand.
On the minus side, driving around in your car will cost you money for gas. Depending on where you live, parking and traffic can be a nightmare, too. And lastly, it can be challenging to find a place if someone gave you vague instructions, so you can also lose a lot of time.
3. Get lost on purpose
Driving around can be fairly time consuming, but you can make it faster. No, don’t drive faster. :) When you go somewhere else, take a longer route. Get lost on purpose. This way you’ll discover some new cool locations for your future shoots. Get out of the car, take a snap with your phone and write down where the place is located. This way you’ll create a database of locations so you’ll have them prepared for when you need them.
4. Use Google Maps
This method doesn’t require you to get out of your house. Considering the situation with the pandemic, perhaps nowadays it’s one of the best ways. Simply open Google Maps and use the Street View. Walk the virtual streets and look around to find some cool places to shoot. It’s fast, it’s free, and it’s safe.
Now, on the minus side, keep in mind that Google Street View images were taken at one season and you may need to shoot during another. This means imagining the scenery and thinking the lighting through.
And one more thing crossed my mind. Did you know I can’t see my house on Google Street View? My street was being repaired when Google Car was driving through my city, so they never took photos of the part of the street where my family home is. In other words, Google Street View may not be perfectly up-to-date, and you may not even have access to some streets. It’s not the end of the world, just something to keep in mind.
Taking photos: when photographing locations, take photos of everything. Access it from all sides and shoot from all angles. Remember that you are “the eyes” of your entire team, so these photos will help them prepare for the shoot.
Note the time: while you’re there, note the time and take a photo that shows where the sun is. This will help you figure out what the lighting will be like on the day of the shoot.
Murals: street murals can look cool, but they’re copyright traps! If you’re not sure who the artist is and if you’re there for a commercial shoot, it’s the safest option to avoid them.
Danger zones: if the location poses a danger for someone to get hurt, it’s also the safest option to avoid it. Alternatively, you can hire someone to be a safety team member.
Misc: plan ahead, look around, and see where the bathrooms, stores, restaurants are. You and your crew will have a long day of shooting and you’ll need all of those. Also write down where the nearest hospital, drug store, and hardware store are, just in case.
Permits: Make sure to find out if the location you want to shoot at requires a permit. I personally had a very unpleasant experience (I’ll tell you about it once), so don’t be me. Think ahead, and if you find out that you need a permit, make sure to get it.
As I mentioned, riding my bike around is my favorite method of finding new locations. Even if I had a car, I’d still prefer a bike, because both traffic and parking in Novi Sad are a nightmare. Now tell me – how do you scout for locations?