Have you ever been asked to photograph a client in an area of your town that you’ve never been to before? Have you ever been asked to shoot in a town you’ve never even been to at all? Well, there have been several times where I’ve photographed a couple in an area that I wasn’t familiar with. I’m going to reference my friend’s engagement session in Texas a lot… because this is essentially the exact thing I did when I photographed Andrew & Rainey’s engagement session in Downtown Houston! They didn’t have a clue where they wanted to go and they asked me… the only non-Texan. SO clearly, I didn’t want to just leave it to chance that we would stumble upon an incredible location… I needed to put in some work and I’m here to share one of the methods to my madness with you.
Instead of showing up to the session and looking like you have no idea what you’re doing or where you’re going… I’m here to layout 3 tips for location scouting so that you can show your client that you know which way is up.
1. Google Earth. #basic. You all knew I was going to say Google. But you know the little yellow man in the corner of the screen that you can drag and drop? Use him! I’m not even kidding… I have wandered the streets of Greenwich Village in NYC and downtown Houston to figure out where the “hidden gem” spots are. Then I can make a “plan” of which street to start on and where I should “wander” to. Of course not every plan is set in stone… I often get easily distracted by a cool location as we wander around.
2. Instagram Hashtags/Places. You already know what a hashtag is and how to search them but what I also love doing is searching actual places in whatever city/town I’m shooting in. I’ll also search for things like #houstonengagement or #houstonwedding to get a variety of options that I can then use to see which location they have tagged. When you’re searching in “places”, there’s a little map at the top of the screen and you can actually see where the location is! I always screenshot the cross streets and save it for later when I want to scout out the area on Google Earth. (second layer here, people.)
3. Local Blogs. Just another wonderful source of location examples. I googled (here we go again) Houston engagement photography, Houston wedding photographer… etc etc (you get the idea) to bring up some blog posts about the city in question. 9 times out of 10 you will stumble upon several great options… remember you don’t necessarily need to agree with the style of photography… you’re only there for location scouting purposes. When stumbling on Houston blogs I noticed this super colorful spot and I just NEEDED to know what it was!
So I bet you’re wondering how the session turned out… well, it’s still one of my favorite sessions to date! I do have to say – KUDOS to Rainey for her idea to take photos outside of the adorable coffee shop called The Honeymoon (I mean, how could we not stop!) Afterwards, we wandered, we stumbled, and we came up with so many amazing images! We took photos downtown then decided to drive a little bit to find a park that I had researched BUT on our way over I got distracted by this sidewalk lined with trees and NO ONE IN SITE. IT WAS PERFECT! The next second… we stumbled onto the campus of Rice University. I didn’t even know it was there! It was the perfect ending to our adventurous day!