Wondering how to find photoshoot locations as a photographer?
I get it! You want to give your clients an experience that’s nothing short of perfect. You’re looking to wow them with a location that’s *exactly* what they imagined (but somehow even better)! To make sure their elopement, or their engagement session, or there just for a fun shoot, is a day they’ll never forget!
But how do you find that perfect spot, the one with the jaw-dropping view and no crowds around your couple as they exchange vows?
This post is all about how to find photoshoot locations, with tips and tricks to improve your client experience. It’s a preview of my Field Guide, which is jam-packed with even more details!
Okay, you could have your clients sign a contract and pay you a hefty deposit and tell them to let you know where and when to show up… but that’s no fun for them, and it won’t be much fun for you when you get there and realize that the location is completely snowed in because they didn’t realize that Mount Rainier is still covered in snow in May.
Some clients might already know where they want to go – maybe it’s the first hike they did together, their favorite national park, or a trail they’ve been saving for their elopement day. But the truth is, most people have no clue where they want their photos taken, and if they do, it’s just a vague idea of what state they want to tie the knot in.
Here’s why you should find photoshoot locations to suggest to each client, instead of leaving it to them to figure out (unless they want to, of course)!
Everything you do for your clients, from the very first email to delivering their photos, should be all about making sure that they have the most incredible experience possible with you! If you’re photographing elopements, many of your clients likely ditched the traditional wedding because they didn’t want the stress of planning it – so as their photographer, the easier you can make this entire process, the better.
They’ll be so grateful when you hand over a list of photoshoot locations that are completely personalized for them!
Part of providing an incredible client experience is also positioning yourself as the expert – not in the “I know it all” kind of way, but definitely in the “I’ve gotcha” kind of way. The way that lets your clients know you’ve got everything covered, you know what you’re doing, and you’re prepared to deal with weather, roads, and anything else that exploring outdoors can bring. You’ll have their complete trust, and you’ll have all the tools needed to ensure everything goes smoothly, even if it doesn’t always go according to plan.
There’s also a more selfish reason to find photoshoot locations for your clients. It’s that you get to shoot in amazing places that you love! Of course, don’t just shove your favorite long hike in their face if they want to elope somewhere easily accessible. Don’t try to convince them that this mountain summit is actually perfect for them if they want the desert. But, if you learn about what they want and you recommend places that really are just right, you get to take amazing photos in those amazing places!
Before you figure out how to actually find photoshoot locations, it’s really important to know what you’re looking for! There are countless stunning spots all over the world, so you’ve gotta narrow it down a little.
A questionnaire is a perfect way to figure out what kind of photoshoot locations your clients are interested in! Honeybook makes creating and sending questionnaires easy. I recommend doing this shortly after the contract is signed and the deposit is paid.
The questions you ask should be about figuring out what kind of location your clients are looking for! Get creative and personalize these to your brand, but some examples can include:
All of these questions should help you narrow down your options when it comes to finding the perfect photoshoot locations for your clients!
Once you have some details and you have an idea of what kind of photoshoot locations your clients will like, it’s time to actually find them!
My favorite way to location scout is in person. Drive down random dirt roads and see where they take you. Talk to some locals and get some recommendations from people who know the area. Check out hikes, overlooks, and places that you want to see for yourself!
But of course, this isn’t always possible. Your clients might be tying the knot in a state you’ve never been to before. You might not have the time to try ten different hikes, and it might not be realistic to location scout in person for 100 different reasons. Don’t worry – it’s totally possible to create a list of location recommendations without ever seeing them in person!
I use a bunch of different tools that let me digitally scout locations, including Google Maps, All Trails, and some even better but lesser-known options that I share all about in my Field Guide.
Start with the big picture. The general location your clients want to elope in, and the scenery they want to see and start putting together some options that have what they’re looking for, like parks in the area. Then, get more specific and look for trails, overlooks, or whatever kind of photoshoot location you’re searching for!
You can decide how many locations you want to recommend to each couple. Make sure to give them plenty of options to help them choose what’s best for them, but don’t go overboard and overwhelm them! I create an interactive map that easily lets my couples see each location and where it is.
When you recommend locations, make sure to give them any details they may need to know about the weather, accessibility, roads, and anything else that can affect their experience! Communication is key, and it’s nearly impossible to over-communicate when it comes to planning their day. Sharing everything you know with your couple is a great way to build trust!
This guide should give you an intro to finding photoshoot locations for your couples. However, if you need more, my Field Guide dives deep into things! Things like weather, lighting, how to create an interactive map, and how and why to come up with a Plan A, B, and C. It covers literally everything you need to wow your couples and creates incredible photoshoot locations!
Ready to become an expert at scouting locations?
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