Do you ever wonder what gear your favorite photographer uses? Like, if you could JUST sneak a peek into her bag and figure out what tha heck she’s workin’ with… that’d be GREAT.
(Hey no shame, I know I did!)
One of my favorite blog posts to read when I was first starting out, was what other photographer’s had in their bags, and what tools they used to run their businesses. Like, I’d binge read those. So, I’m gonna give you the inside scoop on my favorite tools and resources for my biz!
So, first things first.
LOL. But seriously.
So many people say to me “Oh my gosh your images are SO beautiful, you must have a really good camera.” And although that’s sweet… kinda. I’m like… “uh, yeah. It just started taking pictures one day and I’m in complete awe of what it creates…?” LOL.
This is super important, so take note.
That being said, I’ve worked super hard to be able to afford the gear I want, which makes my life a little easier in certain scenarios. Now that we’ve established that having a creative eye for photography is necessary to create stunning images, we can proceed.
Here are a few things you’ll find in my bag, and what I use them for!
That’s all of the software I can think of at the moment, but if there’s any I’m missin’ — I’ll be sure to pop in and update this list as I remember, and as I add different resources into my workflow! I hope you found this oh-so-helpful, and if you have any questions/recommendations, feel free to drop them below! <3
Try not to shop too hard…
Do you ever just straight up struggle when it comes to picking a location for your next session!? You’re over shooting in the same place, and are feelin’ just a bit uninspired.
I mean, you can only get creative so many times in the same dang place.
Aaaaaand… it kinda seems like everything around you is just, idk… ugly?
LOL. Well, I promise it’s not.
Recently I posted a poll inside my Facebook group for photographers, Photographers Without Rival, asking for blog topics that would be the most helpful for people’s photography biz’s! One of the questions asked was over locations; specifically, how I find and choose them. I definitely follow a system when choosing locations, but don’t worry, I’m about to break it all down for you guys!
… And if you’re a journalism/communications major, this may sound familiar!)
The W’s are: who, what, when, where, and why.
However, keep a mental note that choosing locations is going to be a different process for everyone, depending on what type of photography aesthetic you have. For example, my photography is on the adventurous side, so it’s not random for me to be shooting elopements in the mountains, couples sessions in waterfalls, or seniors in the jungle. (Literally, I’ve done all three!) However, if I had a super girly brand, (like Amy & Jordan Demos, or Hope Taylor for example,) then I probably wouldn’t be shooting in those types of locations.
It sounds super simple, but some people don’t realize it’s important. Think about it like this: If I come across as a girly photographer (all of my work is shot in the city, or super bright areas, and there’s not any work shown where clients are in the elements,) then it wouldn’t be beneficial for me to shoot in adventurous locations. Unless I was trying to rebrand, it would be obvious that I’m not naturally drawn to that. However, I do identify as a more earthy/adventurous photographer, so this location selection process will be geared towards those types of photographers!
Also, keep in mind the location can sometimes differ if it’s for a styled shoot, versus a paid session. Sometimes, you have clients that aren’t totally game for swimming in the ocean, hiking to waterfalls, or trekking hours through a majestic forest; and that’s totally okay! You’ll just have to pick a more easily accessible location, that can still give off the same, or close to the same, vibes. But, if it’s a styled shoot where you’ve posted a model call or have friends modeling for you, then you have quite a bit more freedom as to where you can take them! However, sometimes you do get lucky, and have clients who are 100% game for literally whatever you say to do or wherever you say to go, which is seriously the BEST! We actually call those dream (or ideal) clients!
Now, on to the 5 W’s; who, what, when, where, and why.
So first, I determine whether it’s a model for a shoot I’m styling, or if it’s a paid client. Then, I make sure to get to know them and find out what they are and aren’t comfortable with as far as locations go. You can send out questionnaires and really get to know people by asking questions about their personalities/hobbies/etc. If a questionnaire comes back and I’ve got a super hippie couple whose dream is to backpack Europe and eat at every food truck in the U.S., then they’re probably gonna be game for hiking through some crazy elements. But, if the questionnaire comes back and it’s a couple who literally lives in Louboutin, then they probably won’t want to mess up their shoes. Ya feel?
Is it a couple’s session? Is it a senior session? Is it a maternity session with a 38-week pregnant mama-to-be? What you’re shooting is the type of session you’re shooting. The reason this is important is because it’s probably not a good idea to ask your 38-week pregnant mama-to-be to hike an hour through rough terrain in the jungle. (I mean… some might be game but that’s not normal. LOL.) So, this is a pretty big factor in choosing a location!
If it’s December, I obviously won’t have the greenery I have in summer, (unless you’re here in Okinawa, it’s literally green everywhere year-round.) But, most people reading this probably live in the U.S., so, you’ll have to find an alternate location. Also, some days it can be too cold to shoot outside (rarely for us in the south, but totally common up north or in the PNW,) so an indoor location may have to suffice. Basically, just don’t put your clients in danger ya’ll. Be smart. 😉
If it’s local, I’ve probably got a list of locations already to choose from that I’ve developed over the years, or I’ll go location scouting and just drive around! Some of my favorite locations I’ve found by just getting in the car and driving. If it’s out of town, I’ll do my research online to find locations where the shoot is scheduled to be. For instance, if I know the shoot is in Petit Jean State Park (about two hours from my hometown,) then if I hadn’t had already shot there before, I’d hop on Instagram or Pinterest and search “LOCATION / TYPE OF SESSION” So, that may look like, “Petit Jean State Park Senior Session”, or “Petit Jean State Park Elopement.” And then I’ll search through some photos, and save some that are at locations I love and want to shoot at. Once I’ve done that, I’ll hop on google and search for blog posts on people’s travels/adventures to the park, or I’ll hop on Instagram and search through hashtags to find the pin drops. For example, there’s an overlook at Petit Jean State Park that I really wanted to shoot at, but didn’t know the name of. So, I searched the #petitjeanstatepark hashtag on Instagram until I found images of the exact overlook, with the exact location tagged. It’s pretty simple, but seriously super useful! 😃
Location tagging/saving hack: You can actually save a list of locations in Google maps. (I actually only use Google maps on my iPhone, I can’t stand apple maps!) So, if you’re location scouting and you see a super fun mural or wall you want to shoot at or a beautiful field, then you can drop a pin on Google maps by just holding the screen down on the location you want to save. It will say “Dropped Pin,” at the bottom, and you can swipe up and click “label” and call it “Pink wall, or coffee shop, or whatever it is,” and then click “Save” and a lists option will pop up showing “Favorites, Want to Go, Starred Places, New List.” Click “New List” and title it whatever you want, and then you can save it to that list, as well as any other dropped pins for photo shoot location ideas! (This was seriously the greatest hack EVER for me when I found it one day just by playing around on google maps! Seriously a life saver.)
You can also navigate to the place you want to shoot at, and don’t actually have to be there, and can still drop pins! For example, I knew I’d be taking a trip to Savannah, GA, and Charleston, SC last fall, so I searched for all the locations I knew I wanted to shoot at, and then dropped pins at them and saved them all to a list titled “Savannah Shoot Locations,” and “Charleston Shoot Locations.” That way, as soon as I got there I knew exactly how to get to the locations I wanted to shoot at, and could determine the most efficient route to each one! Super nifty, right?!
Most people probably don’t consider this one, but I think it’s super important. In fact, it could actually be the most important factor in choosing a location. Before you choose, I want you to ask yourself why you’re choosing that spot. Are you choosing to shoot on that mountain because you genuinely want to shoot there, or is it because everyone else is, so you feel like you should? Are you trying to brand yourself as an adventurous photographer because that’s truly who you are, what you love, and all you’ve ever wanted for your business? … Or are you actually drawn to city vibes, bright lights, and abundant color – and you’re honestly just fighting your own creative self to fit a mold. (I know that’s pretty deep, but we gotta talk about it ya’ll.) Please, please don’t just shoot things because they’re in style or on trend.
That’s what we need in this industry, desperately. Fresh, creative breaths of air flyin’ around, shootin’ cool stuff and lovin’ every minute of it. So, here’s to doin’ what we want, and stayin’ true to ourselves, all while finding some killer locations. ♥
I hope this was super useful for you guys, and if you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to answer each and every one of them!
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