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Location Scouting

Lesson 7 from: Capturing Authentic Photos of Children & Families

Chris Orwig

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Lesson Info

7. Location Scouting

Lesson Info

Location Scouting

The next step for us was to location scout. And so let's roll that video and take a look at some things to think about when you are working with a location outdoors, so we'll roll that one here. Alright, well here we are at the location. It is absolutely beautiful out here. Once you get to the location you wanna start scouting, and coming up with some ideas on where you wanna photograph. You also wanna be aware that the family will arrive soon. One of the things that I do is I write down the family's names on a little piece of paper or a note card and I review them at this point. So we have mom and dad, Ruth and Steve and then Graham, Henry, and Quinn. So I'm starting to think about okay, family of five, photograph them in this location. How can we use this? One of the things that I notice is that there's some beautiful trees and some steps, so that's definitely a location that I would use. And with steps or to have something that people can sit on, it just gives them a chance to sort ...

of take a break, so they could sit on the steps, enjoy the ocean, and just take it all in. And those are important shots to create. With these trees, these iconic cypress trees, I think I wanna get the subjects close to the trees, maybe the kids in them or something like that just because they're so iconic to this type of a place. You also wanna develop a peripheral awareness of your environment and surroundings. In other words, if you're gonna set your camera bag down like I have here, I wanna keep an eye on it. If I see someone that's a little bit suspect or sketchy nearby, I'm definitely not gonna leave it there by itself. I also wanna be aware of the public that's around. If there's an event going on or something else. So you just wanna be tuned into those things. Now, another location that I know I have to use is the water's edge. I love that intersection of land and sea. When people go to the beach they walk along that edge, and that line. They always get their jeans wet and I just thought that's kind of a beautiful thing because it's that chance to really experience the ocean. It's also beautiful because the sand is really clean there, so for me that's another spot where I would go. And I would wanna go out there to see what it's like, so in that case would take a walk down there and just check out what's happening down there, see what the tide is doing, how high is the tide, or low. And in thinking about that along the way, if I'm gonna bring the family from here to there, if kids are barefoot, these sticks and everything probably aren't the best place to run through, right, cause who knows what's mixed in there. So I'm also thinking about safety as well, right, not just pure beauty. So anyway, let's go down to the water's edge, and take a look at what's happening down there. I'm also as I'm walking out there it give you different perspectives of the land. Couple things for me, there's beautiful colors, green, and then the sands a really dark sand and actually if you had a magnet you could pick up some of the black sand here. So I wanna think about some of the color palate. So if the family is gonna be nice and bright, they're gonna pop on this sand which will be amazing. So let's go down right to the water's edge and I'll show you where I'd really wanna shoot. And for me the magic spot of this whole thing is gonna be way down here. So part of that means that if I'm standing there where the camera is I'm getting this background, and probably the camera needs to go a little lower so that the family stands out. I also know that when I'm shooting, I'm gonna need to get rid of my shoes, roll up my jeans because the closer that I can get as a photographer to right here with this nice clean sand like that, that to me is it. So I need to somehow get that shot, and I'll probably get a little bit wet. So when it comes to scouting it's critical that you have this roadmap, this plan ahead of time. Let me review a little bit of what I have in mind. I have steps, I have trees, I have smooth sand, and of course I also noticed a lot of driftwood out here, so I wanna integrate that in some way. I found this big, long piece of wood and put it on top of another one to make a teeter totter. Anything that you can get kids to climb on, sit on, perch on is a really good thing. So I'm gonna hopefully integrate some of those elements into the shooting as well. So anyway, you get excited about locations. Sometimes look at them through the camera's lens to figure out what you might use. Like in this case, the bridge is really far away, if we shoot with a wide angle lens it's gonna seem really, really small. So I might need to use a lens which compresses that. More of a telephoto lens, so I'm thinking about the gear that I'm gonna select for the different locations, my position relative to the family and the subject. Once they're here, I have to focus on them. I can't be thinking about them plus where do I go next. So in a way, I have it blocked out or choreographed out in my mind. When they come they think it's all just happening naturally and almost by accident, but I have a plan. And that's really important to have when you're working with a family. Another thing to consider when you're scouting a location of course, is light. Now I was hoping for a beautiful sunset right off the coast there, which we didn't get, but that's okay. You rarely get the weather that you hope for, so you have to ask yourself, okay well how is the light gonna affect where the family is? If the sun was setting there I would think a lot about backlight, and shooting directly into the sun, or side light so the sun's over here hitting them from the side. I would never have them really face the sun or directly facing it. With light like this, which is really soft, one of the things that can happen is you can get shadows in the eyes. And let me exaggerate that. Pretend these are my eyebrows here. All of a sudden my eyes go dark, but if I tilt their heads up a little bit it all of a sudden fills in their eyes with light. So you'll probably notice that there'll be a time when the family's looking at me and I may try to get a higher camera angle or be working with a kid, and say, "Hey, look up a little bit," just so I get a little bit of that light filling in the eyes, and that's important on these overcast, soft light, type of days. Alright, so that's location scouting, and the trick of course, is to scout the location a week or so beforehand cause you never know. You show up and all the sudden there are bulldozers, and then the day of. And you really wanna get there ahead of time. And this is true in the sense of photographing a family, but let's pull this out of photographing a family to photographing your own kids, and if you start walking around and you see construction, you're predicting where they might go as well, right? So this applies to all scenarios, not just to a formal family photo shoot. And the trick I think and I mentioned it there just to reiterate is one of the families I photographed a while ago, the dad said this to me, he said, he was really a tough dad. He was like this athlete guy and kinda held his chest strong all the time. He's like, "Yeah, Chris when you photographed our "family, I thought you didn't know what you were doing." And he said, "But then when I saw the pictures "they were amazing." You know, and I thought that was kind of a compliment in a way. Strange compliment. But I think what he meant was that it was pretty casual, and what he had been used to I talked to him a little bit more about that, really formal like, stand here, lock down, do this, do that. And we were really flowing and fluid, and so in a sense I want people to have that and the only reason I want that is so that they're at ease. Because it puts, they just kinda think we're walking on the beach, and they're not thinking about the camera. They're not conscious, or self conscious as much.

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Ratings and Reviews

Meredith Zinner Photography

Chris is a FANTASTIC teacher (and photographer). He is so very very authentic, warm, REAL, talented, knowledgeable, honest, open and true to his wonderful self. This class, in addition to endless nuggets of knowledge and insights, highlights how being true to your own self makes you a better photographer- emphasizing connection, authenticity, fun and easy relaxed simple joy. A refreshing take on children's photography for sure! Thank you Chris and CreativeLive!

lisa james

Wow, I have been in search of my style. I've been reading and researching and listening to inspiring speakers and from each one I've gathered pieces of information that help guide me. This class, however, has been the most successful for me. Chris's approach to teaching and his material that he provides is Spot On for me. Thank you, Chris. I am so inspired and eager to move forward now that I can see my vision more clearly. I highly recommend this class.

Neeraj Arora

Oh my god!!!! What a class. I couldn't stop watching. Chris you are an inspiration, loved every word you said, loved how you said it. I am in the process of getting a plan together for doing photography professionally on the side, on top of my research career, and you just hit a home run in getting me motivated and excited in taking the plunge. My photography of people gives me a lot of satisfaction and meaning and you just validated what I have been thinking of doing lately. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

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