How I scout unique locations for sessions

Every time I get a potential client, I send them a questionnaire regarding what they would like from their session. One of the questions that I ask if they have any particular places they find special or would like me to check out. I do this to try to get some information about them and see what they like. However, most people just say, “no I trust you” which means I have to come up with something special for them.

Challenge accepted.

I wanted to take you through my exact process on how I scout for unique locations for sessions.

First step

Get a city/town location. I at least want to get this from the couples so that way no one is traveling too far. I also can see which cities are around that I have already been to or know I will be heading to in the near future. If I have already been to some of these places, I can choose to either use some locations I have already used or try and find new places.

Step two

Whether I have been there or not, I try to go before hand and scout out some locations. I want to make sure I know exactly where I want to shoot the day of the session. I will take photos of different places I think will work. I will even try to bring someone along with me so they can pose for me in these locations so I can test out the lighting and if each place will actually work.

While I am searching for these locations, I try to find places that include neutral backgrounds, and even have texture. I even look for layers, and try to find natural things as well. Some examples would be in a park surrounded by nature, brick walls, or even something that stands out but isn’t distracting like a colored door.

The key is to find something that won’t take away from the subject (the clients). You want them to enhance the photo and could even use them for props. You just don’t want them to be the center focus of the photograph.

If I can’t get there before hand, I will try and do some research. I use Instagram and Pinterest to help me out with this. I use the geotags and just search locations throughout that city/town. I look for articles relating to places to photograph. I have actually done this for my sisters session as we HAD to get these photos done on a certain day because of time constraints for holiday cards and we were all busy the other days. It was going to rain that day. I had to come up with something that we could do indoors. My roommate found this article with the Indy Star on top Instagramable places in Indy. We ended up using the Indianapolis Public Library and it worked perfectly because of all the windows that were in it. Lighting was perfect.


Once I have come up with some places, I will let the client know that I have come up with some ideas and will let them know if they are all in close proximity or if we may be doing some walking or driving. I will tell them where to meet and I will do my best to find a spot with free parking or the lowest cost parking. Depending on the session type will depend on how many of the locations we will get to. I end up finding way more than I need so that way if we go through a few quickly, I can have more up my sleeve if need be.

All it takes is a little planning and exploring and I can easily come up with great places for every session.