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Thursday, June 29, 2017
By Colin Davidson

Don’t worry this isn’t a promotional ad or shout out to a popular tv programme recommending places to live ! This post is as much about the location you might choose for a photo shoot, as it is about the photography itself.

Case in point, my shoot last weekend was at an urban gritty location with an awesome array of graffiti and backdrops to choose from. It may well have been used before, but it wasn’t a location I was aware of, so after getting the exact spot from a fellow photographer, I set off on a scouting exercise.

The site was huge, essentially an abandoned anti-aircraft depot or at least that is what I now understand it used to be. It may not have been the prettiest of places, it had certainly seen better days, but for a photo shoot it was amazing. Of course it would be a site not without its challenges, particularly the safety aspect but it would also pose some photographic challenges.

What were the challenges ? Without scouting every inch of the site, it was easy to see the immediate safety challenges in the areas I did explore, broken glass, empty canisters, potential for walls to collapse further and falling over bricks/rubble (which I did several times). In terms of a photographic challenges it was more about getting the gear to the location and how lighting my subject might be a factor in an environment I’d not worked before.

So the location was set, I had to get a shoot organised, I couldn't let my enthusiasm wane and let this opportunity slip. I contacted a number of models to check their availability and soon after came to an agreement with Samantha Bain. Samantha certainly had the look I was looking for with this shoot and was equally as enthusiastic after sharing details of the location and concept for the shoot.

So what worked well ? The backdrop opportunities this site presented were incredible and I barely scratched the surface. Whether you see graffiti as a blot on the landscape or even criminal for that matter, the detail in some of the work was fantastic and it worked well for what I wanted. The shoot was pretty secluded, privacy was important given I hadn’t organised a shoot for some time, so I wasn’t rushed and therefore able to experiment with my photography a little. I also had the support of two assistants on the day, my good friend and fellow photographer Mark Whitelock (www.whitelockphotography.com) and Jessica Cornforth. Not only were Mark and Jessica a huge help, they were able to capture many of these ‘behind the scenes’ shots for me. I also had some smoke grenades for the shoot and whilst I don’t think they worked particularly well, I wouldn’t be adverse to using them again for a different shoot.

So what tips might I be able to offer as a result of this shoot ? There would be several really, certainly planning your shoot and scouting your location would be key. Think about how accessible the location is, what gear you might need and are there any safety aspects to consider (both for those involved with the shoot and your gear). You might want to consider if the location or environment works, perhaps outlining the intention and theme for the shoot.

I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I wanted without taking much of the above into consideration or having assistance on the day with equipment etc. It was also great working with an excellent model who needed little by way of direction or instruction and was very easy to work with.

I hope to follow up on this post very soon, with a finished set of images, which may or may not be published. Regardless of the outcome of my submission, overall I’m very pleased with the images and the confidence gained from the planning and execution of the shoot. Much of what I’ve covered here may be considered basic, even common sense but worth considering in order to get the best out of your own location shoots.

Equipment Used:

Nikon D750

Nikon 50mm 1.8G

Sigma 70-200mm 2.8

Godox AD600B

Godox X1 Trigger

Pixapro 90cm Octogonal Easy-Open Umbrella Softbox

Manfrotto 420b Combi Boom Stand

Sekonic L308s Light Meter

Leave a comment:
Alan Green - Enjoyed reading this and it's a cracking blog with excellent final images to follow, I've no doubt.
Interesting to know what gear, etc, was used.
Nice work!
Alan dingwall - Well written blog with informative info as well as photography that is from the heart as enthusiastic photographer. I like the inclusion of the fact you scouted what can be a very challenging area for potential objects that could cause harm to the model very well thought out and very well done .
Look forward to seeing more