last week I had the opportunity to do a family portrait session at a beautiful location here in Colorado with a sweet family of 4. The session lasted about 60 minutes and we had lovely evening light on a cloudy night. It went smoothly and I felt very much at home at the venue, even though I have only been in Colorado for a few months.
Why did I feel at home? Because I had scouted out that location months ago! I took pictures of the location, and went at about the same time of night I knew I would be booking an appointment. I was familiar with the proximity and availability of parking, nearest restroom facilities, possible hazards, animals on the property, (in this case, there are abundant bunnies!) possible background textures, structures on the property, and the physical address to give my clients so they could get directions. I even knew that the access road was under construction so I could tell them to allow extra time to get there.
Are these details important? I created a whole gallery on my website of “Memphis Photo Shoot Locations” with photos of each location, with and without models to illustrate lighting and features. That gallery was accessed 2,190 times in the last month! I have thought about deleting the gallery, since I live in Colorado now, but it’s obviously filling a need for photographers, parents and other folks in the area, so I will leave it open.
When I have scouted out a location and educated myself about everything I can, and anticipated the questions my client might ask (where is the closest bathroom??) I am free to focus on my client and move them from one location or activity to another in a smooth manner. That way, my energy and attention is completely on providing them with a memorable and positive experience.
If you are a portrait photographer, or aspire to be one, please consider scouting out several locations in your area. Take a few photos so you can remember what you’ve seen. You’ll feel more comfortable, and will be able to focus on what’s important: your client and her family! 🙂