One of the most important things in my pet photography business is finding beautiful locations for my sessions. I try not to use the same places over and over again and I always try to challenge myself to find beauty in ordinary places. I choose my locations based on a few things. First of all, it must have good light. I’m obsessed with light. When I’m in the car, driving around town, I am constantly scanning the areas around me. Good light trumps a good location and honestly, good light can turn an unattractive location into something magical. I purposefully schedule all of my pet photography sessions during the evening, about two hours before sunset. Why? Because that’s when I feel like the light is most flattering and that warm, beautiful light has become part of my style. If I can’t schedule a session in the evening, my next best time of day is early morning. Light is an important component in photography and so I do my best to give myself favorable conditions when it comes to that.
There are a few other things I look for in a location. I am always on the look out for texture. Bricks, wood, metal… these are all things I love finding in new locations and I use them to my advantage whenever I do find them. I am inspired by architecture and street photography, so when I am looking for new locations, I am naturally drawn to urban and industrial locations. This may not be your thing, which is fine. If you love parks and colorful flowers, use that as inspiration. I love filtered light through shrubbery and trees – it creates beautiful colors and natural bokeh.
Lastly, I am always on the look out for color. It can be natural color, like the greens and yellows we find at the park, or it can be man-made color like beautiful graffiti walls that add definite interest to the image. Color paired with beautiful light just makes my heart happy.
Variety in a location is great. If you find an area that has multiple “looks” to it, that’s the best! You won’t have to go far to get a variety of images for your client. Another important thing I look for in a location is open shade. Open shade just means that there are large areas of shade where I can place my subject during the session, so the sun isn’t hitting them directly. For my pet photography sessions, I always use natural light and it is just more flattering when it is diffused in some way, whether it’s a building casting the shadow or a tall tree. This isn’t a deal breaker and there are some locations where you just know there isn’t going to be any open shade, like the beach.
My advice for location scouting is to get out and explore. Jump in your car and drive around a part of town that you’ve never been before. Take your dog along as a model. This is exactly what I do. It’s a great way to train yourself to always have an eye open for new locations in your area. Jump on your bike or take a walk around the block. Keep your eyes peeled for the things that are important to you and your style. For me, that’s light, texture, and color – so anytime I’m out, I am constantly looking for these things. Make mental notes and go back to visit these areas that you find at different times of the day to see how they change with the light. I honestly don’t think there is any big secret to finding great locations. You just have to always be on the lookout for the natural beauty that constantly surrounds you. You just need to take the time to really see it.