On location photography, particularly for people and pets needs to be carefully planned and thought out. Where you shoot is the key to how you shoot and what you will need to create the best image. Your colors, lights, backgrounds, hair styles, clothing and makeup will be based on the location you pick. Sure – you can take the easy way out – shoot in the studio. That would be so convenient and you could do your photography blindfolded. By the same token, don’t take your client to your downtown gazebo just because its there. Sure it is convenient, but ask yourself, does the location suit the subject, do the colors work, does the mood work and most important will you capture an image that will stir some emotion in the viewer. The gazebo is a nice place, but is it the best place – usually not.
A well thought out location is one that will represent your client’s personality, their activities, their hobbies and pastimes. It would not be appropriate to photograph a musician at a horse race track, nor would you photograph a jockey in his silks in a concert hall. You get the point……..
Every human has a personality it is this personality that identifies this individual and you, as a photographer must capture the essence of this in your photograph. The place you identify as the stage for your image must not only compliment the personality but emphasize it. Remember that every subject is a unique individual, with their own personality.
A successful portrait mandates your taking time to getting to know your subject, be it a person or a pet. Ascertain what their likes and dislikes are, their favorite colors, locations, activities, etc. In a short period of time you must get to know them.
Portraying the individual and their personality becomes easier if the surroundings compliment the subject. It is amazing how quickly a person will relax when they are put in a familiar place or a place that is representative of their preference. A comfortable and relaxed subject will provide you the opportunity to capture the personality not just a portrait.
Once you have spent some time getting to know your subject you can scout out a suitable location. Look for areas that provide diffuse light, keep in ming the time of day when you will be shooting. If it must be an indoor location, try and set it up so as to have soft natural light, in the Northern Hemisphere, South facing windows are ideal. Fill in with artificial light but rely on natural light.
Another consideration for location choice that needs consideration is if the place is public or private. Public places can be problematic for a shy subject or if the subject is self-conscious. They may never become totally relaxed – and as a result you may find it nearly impossible to get a truly good portrait. You too may face issues in public places, crowds, curiosity and other disturbances.
The last point and probably as important is that your location and its elements must not be or become the dominant features of your image. Remember you sought out the location to photograph your subject not the location. Let the subject shine not the great location you proudly found.