Most days, I just can’t turn it off. I’m walking around Old Town or driving through a new place and I make a mental note as I see them. Golden light. Perfect lines. Incredible colors. I’ll forget where I was walking or driving and veer off my path to take a closer look. Yup. Mmhmm. That’ll do.
I wrote a few weeks ago about how much I believe my clients should be the ones to choose the location of their engagement sessions, and it’s true! I want your photos to be a reflection of your relationship, and a meaningful location adds so much to that. I’ve found that sometimes, a bride will have the perfect location in mind, but not believe that it’s pretty enough or picturesque enough to work for their session. 9 times out of 10, that’s just not the case! I may ask my clients to be responsible for picking the location, but the burden of finding places to shoot within that location? Don’t you worry your head about that—it’s on me.
It’s easy for people to recognize something as “pretty” without really knowing why, and for most people, seeing the pretty is more than enough. But I’ve been trained to go a little further than the average person needs to. Years of critiques in school asking why a certain piece of art made me feel a certain way or why this design element works best here over that one. And in the past three years as a wedding photographer, I’ve learned to ask of myself why does the light in this photo feel golden where this one just feels blown out? Why do the colors of this building seem to pop while this one looks dull? Why can’t I see the sparkle in my brides eye in this image, but in another it’s there, clear as day? I’ve been asking why for so long, I don’t know how to turn it off anymore, though I don’t think I would if I could. It’s asking why that leads be to the nooks and crannies of a location that I might not have found otherwise. It lends more interest to my photos and ultimately, gives my client a better image.
For almost all of my engagement sessions, I arrive about 40 minutes before the session starts to find the places that will work best that day. They’re almost never the same! An overcast day might allow for a bit more freedom to use places that would have been too harsh otherwise, while a sunny evening might bring light streaming through a tree in a way I’d missed before.
I love scouting because I’m already a bit of a wanderer at heart. I adore the fact that I can spend a golden afternoon strolling through a new place and know that I’m actually doing my job. My job! Next time you’re out wandering somewhere new or old, take a minute to look around and scout for yourself. Find the golden light, find the strong lines, and find those colors that pop. Make a mental note. Jot them down. Create a map. Collect them like gems and then go and use them!