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What makes a good photoshoot location?

Many people think that just a "pretty" place will make great photos. Yes, and no. A "pretty" place does factor into great photos, but you give me great light at a crappy location and I will give you great photos, no matter what.

Being from Hampton Roads, VA. I get a lot of requests for the beach to take photos. I cannot tell you how many times that the light has been TOO overpowering.

I also get requests for parks a lot. Which is fine, but many times, that involves walking a lot from place to place. No client wants to walk too much with kids. They get tired after a while. Besides most parks, have trashcans everywhere and not much shade.

What are my favorite places to shoot at? I love spots with architecture. I love places that have good textures and good lighting. I love places that have spots to sit, benches to lean on and bridges to stand against. I love places that no people know about. I love places that aren't far to walk around in. I love places that have great light- no matter what time of day. I love places that have great natural light- not blazing sun!

This really narrows it down significantly then. There are not many places that have all of these characteristics.

I try to shoot in areas that have great shade- or the ability to make shade from buildings, trees or bridges. A downtown area is great for this- where the buildings are blocking the light and you have interesting wall textures. The photo above was taken at a wild-life sanctuary where there are three or four walking bridges with wood- very cool place! There was also a forest in the back with great lighting!

The couple above wanted me to shoot at the beach (of course!). The only problem was- there was NO shade anywhere! It was so harsh! I did some silhouettes as a fun thing with them, but it was difficult to great a great portrait of them two with out the sun cutting off their faces!

But the good thing about shooting here was, we only had about 100 feet of beach. So, there wasn't a lot of walking involved! The bad thing was, there was only about 100 feet of beach- so not a lot of space to really do anything!

I remember one time that a client wanted three different locations in one shoot! How tiring for the guy fiance! So much going in and out of cars and driving!

This particular couple, wanted me to drive 5.5 hours to their favorite spot! Eek! I would have normally said "no," but I was going to visit family up there anyway. I try to stay within 20 minutes or so of my hometown. No body wants to drive very far to get to a spot- unless it's really significant to them!

I love this door that Noah was standing against (above). I also look for natural frames and textures to give my subject some cool context.

Another bad thing about a location- especially with young children is the possibility of getting messy and dirty. The beach is beautiful, but it's sandy, windy and messy! All the makeup and hair that you spent so much time on three hours before will be gone with in thirty minutes!


Also, be careful that many places that are "pretty" have fees and fines for shooting! (like the Norfolk Botanical Gardens!)


Find a place that is simple, uncrowded, has great light and textures. Even if it's a small space- you will be surprised at all the little corners that you will be able to find!

For Chesapeake, Hampton Roads, VA. I recommend the following:

Downtown Norfolk/waterside

Downtown Portsmouth

Downtown Ghent (near Chrysler Museum)

The Chesapeake Arboretum (in the back, where the forest is, not the barn side)

A Place for Girls in Chesapeake

First Landing State Park

The Locks Park Nature Trail in Chesapeake (where the boats come in and there are hiking trails)

If you do want the "beach" try the Ocean Front near the old Carousal- there are several buildings that are rustic and cool to be against.


These are some places that I have shot in Hampton Roads and are not my favorite (because they don't fit all my categories), but still pretty:

The beach, across the street near Lesner Inn (near an old Restaurant) (not enough shade)

Sandbridge Little Island Park (too bright, and messy)

Oak Grove Lake Park in Chesapeake (too crowded, too big and not enough benches)

The Locks Park in Chesapeake (next to the bridge, where the playground is) (not enough places to sit, not enough textures)

The Ocean Front pier (9th street) (too bright, too much walking, not many places to park)


I would love to see how this has helped in your photographic journey!


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