the blog

How to choose a location for your photo shoot….Part I

Before I post the pics from my recent portrait session,  I thought I’d explain why I chose the locations that I did.   Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a professional and you want to take an important photo, sometimes it’s overwhelming trying to decide how to choose your location.  So many times we are so focused on the moment and on the subject themselves, then we get the picture back and realize there’s a huge sign in the background or a telephone pole that looks like it’s shooting out of there heads.

So a couple of weeks ago, I scheduled this portrait session with Karla Trotman who is the owner of Belly Button Boutique.  Karla was looking for some professional headshots in a outdoor, casual setting as well as some full length or 3/4 length shots that she can use as needed in marketing pieces, magazine mentions, etc.

For this photo session, I scoped out Curtis Arboretum in Wyncote.  Walking around the arboretum, I looked for a few things:

Shade! Shady spots are best for portraits.  Full sun casts dark shadows under the eyes and chin and there is no way to correct that after the fact.

Texture/Interest Greenery is always pretty, but it can get boring if it’s in every single photo.  Look for architectural details, doorways or brick walls to add some interest.   Since Karla will be using these photos throughout the year, I didn’t want to have just greenery or flowers in the background.  If this were a wedding, I may look more for romantic locations with lots of flowers or winding paths.

This arbor is beautiful, but in the context of this shoot, I'll use the pillars and walls more than the flowers.



When I thought of this shoot, I thought of Karla’s business being profiled in a pregnancy or parenting magazine.  I tried to imagine what type of photo, other than a standard headshot, that she might want to use for the article.

There were several of these paintings on the sides of the building. As soon as I saw them I immediately thought they'd be great for Karla's shoot. I thought, Karla, kids, colorful...perfect! The full sun here however, could be a challenge.

Here’s an example of not in context:

I thought this tree was amazing. While I'd probably use this spot for an intimate engagement shoot moment, it just felt a little too funky and offbeat for Karla as a professional entrepreneur.

Change it up!

It can seem a bit stiff  to just be standing there looking at the camera in every photo, so I wanted to find steps for her to sit and places for her to lean against.  This also helps me change my camera angles on an outdoor location without needing to step on a ladder or bring a stepstool for my subject.

Cool architectural detail with a great ledge

Steps and Shade....perfect!

So now I know who I’m shooting for, what type of photographs I want to shoot and I have several location options.  If I was photographing a wedding, typically I would meet the bride and groom during the engagement session, so I’d know their personality a bit.  The location decisions at a wedding are made pretty quickly, but once you know the rules, it’s easy to find the right spots fast!

I visited the arboretum in the late afternoon and could tell the sun was very strong.  There were lots of great locations, but some were in full sun.  So, since this was a portrait session with no set times, I recommended to Karla the time that would be best for our shoot.

Hope you found this helpful.  Stay tuned for my next blog post with the photos from Karla’s session!

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

  • Karla TrotmanMay 5, 2010 - 2:09 pm

    I had a wonderful time shooting with Linda. She was patient and very funny. We zipped through the shots and had fun with it. I was worried about the dumbest things, like the fact that I was wearing flip flops, but I am a flip flop person. I felt like me in the pictures, which is important. When people see the photos, they see what I am all about, fun, relaxation, comfort. I am a mom for crying out loud.

  • […] Linda Morrow Photography […]