Scouting Locations: What’s Important and What’s Not?

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At a Glance..

When scouting a location, it is very easy to distracted by what can be. Getting lost in the what can be, eliminates the possibility to deal in the reality. In the reality, is where the facts exist. Facts like Accessibility, Power Capability and Bathrooms are facts that can not be ignored when dealing with paid clients. In this post, we will dive deep into what’s important and what’s not when scouting a location.

Safety and Permission

It is important to choose locations that not only look interesting, but that are safe as well. Locations in high crime areas might be visually intriguing, but the risk involved with shooting there is often not worthwhile, especially if it’s just you and a model without a large crew around you.

Nothing will end a photoshoot quicker than an injury, to yourself, a model, or a member of your team. Visiting the location in person is important to find out what the actual conditions are — things like deep mud might not be obvious in a Street View photo, but it can create major problems when you arrive on the day of the shoot if you haven’t planned for it.

Piedmont Park


While there are many locations where obtaining permission is not required, there are others where obtaining appropriate permits and permission is a necessity, especially if your production is a large, obvious one with a big lighting setup and crew that will disrupt business or block traffic. 

Research your local laws and ordinances — obtaining a permit is often a simple process. In many areas, you may be required to have insurance coverage to obtain a permit to shoot. Photography insurance is relatively inexpensive, but provides protection to both you and property owners should problems ever arise.

Truist Plaza


It saves time and energy to have everything figured out well in advance and the location plays a big part in the planning process. Pay attention to the ground and lighting conditions — will your location be in full sun or in shadow during the time of day you’ll be shooting? 

Take test photos in advance to figure out what kind of lighting setup you’ll need. The less you have to figure out on the spot the day of your photo shoot, the less stressful it will be.

Ponce City Market


When scouting a location, think about more than just the nice photos you could take there. What’s the parking situation like? How private is it? Is it in a safe area? Where will the models change? What will you do if it rains? Spontaneity is great, but you can not plan for everything.

Having a general outline of how you’ll work in your chosen location will help you to produce a successful photoshoot. Be sure to do some research as well to make sure that there are no events, parades, road closures, etc. scheduled for the day of your planned photoshoot.


Scouting a Location not only saves time and money, it also allows for creative freedom.  Logistics should not dominate your mind on shoot day. You should be free to see and capture without restriction.

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