14 Simple Tips to Photographing in a Busy Location
We’ve all been there.
We’ve planned the perfect session in a beautiful location, and then it happens.
We’re on our way to the best shoot EVER and we hit traffic. Gah!!! We finally arrive (a few minutes late) and there are people.
Tons of them.
We take a deep breath and secretly calm ourselves. We look to our clients and assure them with a nervous smile. Inside our hearts we plead, “Dear Lord, please let me get SOME pictures of just MY CLIENTS in the frame!” Let’s be honest. Photographing sessions in busy locations can be frustrating, challenging and completely nerve wracking. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! By educating yourself and planning ahead, you’ll find that these tips will set you at ease so both you and your clients can have the most enjoyable session possible!
1- Scout the location prior to the session and find out all you can on the internet! There is a wealth of information on the web and you should use it to your full advantage.
2- Aim to visit the location on the same day and time you plan to schedule your shoot so you can note travel time, possible traffic issues or patterns, and find all possible parking areas.
3- Make sure you have a credit card or cash (and coins) on hand just in case you need money for parking, tolls, etc. If driving is not the best option, choose the best mode of public transportation.
4- Call ahead! Often you might be unaware that your location requires a photographer’s permit. This may or may not include a fee. Do your homework and call the location or venue ahead of time so that you can learn about any policies and procedures. Don’t take any chances and be sure to follow the rules. You do NOT want to get turned away from using the location on the day of the shoot.
5- Check the calendar of events. Be aware of any major events and plan accordingly. If you fail to check for events, you may find that the venue is closed for renovation, a wedding, or for some other reason. That would be bad. Very bad.
6- Be upfront with your client. When you speak to your client about the location, be honest and upfront. Let them know that busy places and lots of people go hand in hand and choosing a weekday might be the best option. Communicate patience and let your client know that your goal is to give the best images possible but some photos may include other people in them. Inform your clients that they may need to hold their pose or position for a few minutes as you wait for others to pass by.
7- It’s also ok to quickly “bag” your current spot and move somewhere else. Often at national monuments I find myself going back and forth with clients to different areas due to a large amount of people coming into the scene. Remember, when possible, you want your clients in the frame and no one else.
8- Find the light! We all know that lighting can make or break your photos. Look for atypical spots that produce great light!
9- If the location is prone to lots of tourists, they will most likely choose to snap a picture right in front of the monument, exhibit, etc. Dare to be different! Take your clients around to the “less popular” areas. With amazing light, they are sure to be pleased with the final images.
10- Wide aperture You can use a wide aperture to make other people who might have entered your frame seem less apparent. They’ll be nice and blurred in the background.
12- Crop Creatively When cropping, be sure to keep in mind good composition and rule of thirds.
13- Be respectful of others. As annoying as it might be to have to wait for others to walk out of the frame, YOU do not own the property. Please be respectful and considerate. Everyone is there to enjoy themselves so extend a smile and be professional and courteous.
14- Have FUN! In the end, all you want is for your clients to have a fabulous time during their session. Smiles and laughter will always yield fond memories for them and in the end, that’s what’s most important!