A great location can really make or break a photograph. If you shoot a model in swimwear in middle of the city—it would be pretty weird. If juxtaposition is your thing, go for it, but have a reason behind it. Personally, I like my locations to make sense.
Which location you choose depends on a multitude of factors: the city you live in, the products you are photographing, the time of year, your preferred style, etc. My personal preference is to shoot outdoors in nature, around colorful buildings or in a studio. I like to keep things minimal—I don’t want my background to be distracting. Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense for me to shoot downtown. I can do it, but I’d rather not. Really think about keeping your style consistent. Knowing the right backgrounds for your work is half the battle. Just because a location looks super cool, doesn’t mean it’s going to make sense for you.
If your taste is like mine, here are my top location ideas and suggestions!
1. The Beach: This one is a classic, and for good reason. The sand and ocean are gorgeous backdrops that don’t demand too much attention. Unless you were to go to a really crowded beach, there typically aren’t a lot of distracting elements to worry about. The only thing you need to be wary of, like with all outdoor locations, is the sunshine and what time of day you are shooting. Always scout beforehand so you know what to expect and what type of equipment you need to have on hand!
If you can, pick a beach that has some great natural elements surrounding it like rocky cliffs or grassy dunes. This gives you a bit more variety to work with.
Don’t have a beach? You can achieve a similar look with lakes, ponds, rivers and most other bodies of water! Get creative.
2. Cute Neighborhoods: Obviously, I’m not suggesting you trespass, but it’s usually okay to shoot around the sidewalks and streets of a quiet neighborhood. I love seeking out areas with colorful houses, and placing the models in front of them. Don’t walk right up to the house—that would definitely be trespassing. You can blur the homes in the background of your images so that you are still adding a pop of smooth color, but they aren’t the main focus. A lot of neighborhood homes have gorgeous landscaping which you can also use to your advantage.
3. A Backyard or Park: This one is simple and easy to come by. Essentially, you are shooting in a very green environment. If you can find a place with some gorgeous flowers in bloom, even better! I love these locations because the light is a lot easier to work with. I prefer to shoot in the shade and there is often an abundance of it in most backyards and parks. If you are somewhere more private (that doesn’t require a location permit) you could easily set up a portable backdrop. I love shooting against a studio backdrop with natural light—it’s the best daylight studio hack. This option makes the background a little less green too, which can sometimes be overwhelming. I also love shooting both the studio backdrop and background in the same frame. It’s pretty trendy these days, and for good reason.
4. Rent an Apartment or Studio: Okay, so this one is going to cost a little money. If you’re willing to invest in your business, this is a great option. Peerspace is a great website for finding amazing apartments and studios for shoots. They are beautifully curated and rentable by the hour with a variety of price options. You can also check out Airbnb for apartments and houses, though you’d obviously have to rent it for the whole night. Could be a fun excuse for a staycation!
5. Greenhouse or Botanical Garden: For a real ethereal and natural vibe, I love shooting in these locations. While living in Paris, I discovered the world’s dreamiest greenhouse and I can’t wait to return one day. Often in these spots, you need to obtain a location permit. I’ve snuck around before, but if you want full control I recommend reaching out! Otherwise, I’d suggest keeping your team very small in order to keep a low profile.
6. On a Boat: This one requires a bit of insider knowledge. If you have a boat of your own, amazing, what are you still doing here? Otherwise, you need to know the right people. I shot on a gorgeous sailboat in Manhattan by the pure chance of a mutual friend. Ask around—you never know! Otherwise, you could dish out some dollars and rent a boat for a few hours. Either way, there’s nothing quite like sailing on the open sea and doing what you love.
That’s pretty much it for me! As you can tell, I love natural environments with a touch of simplicity. If you have any fun ideas, comment below! Happy shooting. <3