How to Scout out the Perfect Photo Locations

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Hey friends of Kristen Duke! This is Shari, and I’m so happy to be here again sharing another photography tip with you on Kristen’s blog.  Today I wanted to talk a little about location scouting.  These ideas and tips are for all levels of photographers and my hope is that you will start looking at your surroundings with different eyes!

how to scout out perfect photo locations

First off, I’d like to share a list of important questions to ask when scouting for new locations:

  • What time of day and what season does this location get the best light?
  • Are there multiple areas to use within this location?
  • How easy is this location to access?
  • Is it safe?  Is it appropriate for children?  Would it put anyone in harms way?
  • Is this area large enough to accommodate your subjects?  (especially important for families!)

So, now that you know what to look for, how exactly do you go about location scouting?  Well, you can pretty much be on the lookout for new locations every time you leave your house!  Here is my advice to you on how to find new spots to shoot:

  • Spend time walking/driving/riding your bike, etc. around your town.  Take different routes, push yourself to explore new areas.  KEEP AN OPEN MIND!
  • Explore during the time of day that you intend to shoot, that way you’ll be able to get a feel for the lighting at that time of day.
  • Bring your camera or phone to take some snapshots!  This will help you see how the light and the location looks on camera.  And even better, bring someone along with you to test how the light and location looks with a subject in it!!
  • Keep a notebook or use your phone to take notes about the location, such as:  where to park;  busy sidewalks;  traffic;  ideas for multiple areas to shoot in that location;  is it private property? will you need permission?  etc. is a great app for this exact thing!)
  • Use Google Maps to explore if you aren’t able to get out of the house!

Here are some examples of some different and unique locations where I’ve shot:

This image was shot at a GAS STATION!  I loved this geometric cinder block wall, and thankfully my subjects didn’t think I was completely insane and agreed to it!
This image was shot in the stairwell of a parking garage.
Believe it or not, this was shot in front of a VW bus!  My sister and I were walking around and she and I both LOVE this color, so I said, “LET’S DO IT!” and it ended up being her favorite shot from that session.


This was shot on a public sidewalk in front of an antiques shop.  We were in open shade, and the light reflected beautifully off of the building across the street onto this family.

Be creative!  Don’t be afraid to try shooting at new locations!  Have fun!


For more photography tips, click on over to the photography section! Here are just a few:

Tips for helping people feel comfortable when getting their picture taken.

Tips for a great headshot.

How to shoot beautiful backlit images.

If you’d to join the Capturing Joy Photo Club on Facebook, where we have photo challenges, Q&A’s, and image sharing, request to join HERE:

Capturing Joy Photo Club

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  1. Thanks for the tips! I’m not originally from where I live now, so it’s hard for me to find good locations…

  2. Great post

  3. Thanks Shari! I love the shot you took on the stairs in a parking garage… I never would have guessed that is where you were! Great ideas 🙂

  4. A gas station?! I love that shot. It’s great! and the color on the VW bus is sensational.

  5. These are some great tips Kristen! I’m pinning this for the next time I try and do family shots!

  6. Love the ideas! Location is so important in making a good photo great!

  7. Great tips! I’m going to be taking my daughter’s senior pictures soon so I am on the lookout for great locations!

  8. These are great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Such great tips! I love looking for new locations! Thanks for sharing! Pinned!

  10. Linda English says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’m an amataeur photographer that is hoping to go pro. I’m new to the town i live in and really had no clue where to look for locations to shoot in but this has made me think that maybe I’ve been overthinking it.