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A Word On Location Scouting

A bat cave in El Nido Palawan, Philippines. My all time favorite location

In my opinion, location scouting for photo shoots is one of the most underrated pleasures of photography. I suspect it has something to do with freedom. It is quite liberating to get lost in a new environment. It triggers my imagination, my mind as it exhausts all delicious possibilities on locations where I would capture the images. I really dig that. Furthermore, as shocking as it may seem, I savor the opportunity to eat in places that I discover along the way. I came up with a list of the points that you have to consider when you are scouting for location:

Concept of the Shoot

Prior to scouting for location, you should already have a solid concept for your photo shoot. How else are you going to decide what type of location you want? Although locations help inspire the photographer, the concept should define the location, not the other way around.

Shooting Options

Personally, I prefer a location that serves me a variety of angles and shooting vicinity all in one close area or within few minutes of walking. That way, getting back in your car to take or secure all of the equipment that you need would be undemanding. Also, you can get a lot more done and finally, moving the set-ups would take a lot less effort.


When you check the location, make sure that there is an available bathroom and you take note where it is situated because ‘you gotta go when you gotta go’. Especially when you are out in the woods, you may consider renting portable toilets unless you want to dig holes and likes squatting with bugs crawling up on you. ☺

Changing Room

You have to figure out a place where model/s can change their outfits as required by your concept. Whether it’s your car, behind a tree or a boulder, just make sure that the model/s are comfortable and secure. Another option is renting a portable change room like the ones from Cowboy Studios

Where is the sun

Many times when I scout it’s a different time then the actual shoot. How do I deal with that? I use a compass on my phone so I can have an accurate idea where the sun is going to be at the time I’m going to be there.

Bring the Essentials

Sometimes I don’t have the luxury of an assistant, or a location that I can drive up to so bringing the essentials makes sense. Have a checklist of all the necessary equipment to get you through the photo shoot. If you do have an assistant keeping light is still a good idea and your sherpa will love you for it.

Power Supply

As a photographer, bringing extra camera batteries is instinctive. But if your bringing a power pack that needs an outlet then look for it, and see how long an extension cord you’ll need. Check on the availability of outlets to power the lights and just in case you need to charge the equipment.


Since photo shoots can take the whole day or maybe even more to complete, you have to check if there are food stops within the area or if it is possible to bring food for the crew.

These are the main things I think about when scouting for new locations. One thing I forgot to mention is to bring a camera. I use my camera phone because I just need to get an idea of the shot. The location for me will make or brake the image so do your very best to find the perfect one. Happy shooting.

Written by Ashton Boni