You got yourself booked for an engagement session – Awesome! After going back and forth through a few emails, you and your client settle on a shooting location that they want to take their engagement photos at. “Cool, we got ourselves a location, a time to meet up, and a date”, you think to yourself. The camera bag gets packed the night before with all the lenses you need, memory cards, and batteries needed for the engagement shoot. The day of the shoot comes, you meet your client at the planned location and you’re ready to rock. Then comes the boom: everyone is kicked out because it’s private property, you needed a photography permit, or it just doesn’t look like how it looked on the internet. Now what?

Location scouting is something that Geoff and I do in between shoots so when things like this happens, we have a Plan B and Plan C ready to go. In our experience, clients typically search Google for pretty locations in the area and simply think, “Okay, let’s shoot here.” In the last few years, we have noticed that locations have been getting more strict to take pictures at. Places may now require photography permits purchased ahead of time. Most outdoor locations look different depending on the season. Other locations just don’t allow photography anymore because of bad experiences the property has experienced with disrespectful or rude photographers.

Here are some shots we’ve done around a 2 mile radius of Downtown Los Angeles and the variety of backgrounds there is to pick from depending on the needs of your shoot. Not all places are cool about having professional photos done, so if sweet talking doesn’t work and we don’t have a permit, we just need to respect the authority, pack up, and figure out the next spot without having to travel too far.

Gear used for these shoots include:
Canon 5d Mark 2
Alienbee B800
Vagabond Mini
Canon 580 EX II
Pocket Wizard Transceivers
Canon 50mm 1.2L
Canon 100mm 2.8L

The Bradbury Building in Downtown Los Angeles.

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LA Historic Park just north of China Town in Downtown Los Angeles.2

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Union Station in Los Angeles.

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The 6th Street bridge that leads into Downtown Los Angeles.5

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A small alley in China Town that we really like shooting at.

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Knowing what other locations that are in the immediate area is very important in case the planned location becomes a bust. Location scouting isn’t like spending hours driving around popular neighborhoods or scouring the internet (although it could be). When I’m a passenger in a car, I do my best to keep my iPhone in my pocket so I can pay attention to my surroundings and environment rather than what my friends are posting on their Facebook or Instagram. If we drive by something cool, I’ll then reach for said iPhone and snap some photos and throw them into an organized album. It makes it possible and convenient to find locations or recommend locations for the type of shoots our clients are interested in.

This type of foresight and planning is needed as a professional photographer. It doesn’t take much effort during normal day-to-day activities and errands to soak in the surroundings and it can really save a photo shoot that has gone wrong because of a location that cannot be used. It’s definitely saved us after being kicked out of certain locations and we hope this little tip can help save one of your future photo shoots.

We will have more (hopefully) helpful tips we’ll share from our experiences shooting weddings, engagements, products, sports, cars and bikes, so be sure to check back with us soon.

Thanks for stopping by!

Cheers,
Danny
Blue Soul Photo
Blue Soul Photo Blog

IE Photo Rentals
558 W. 2nd St, Unit B
Pomona, CA 91766
909-713-4377

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Serving Inland Empire, Los Angeles and Orange County Areas.

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