Apr 30, 2011

Location Location Location

To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.” - Ansel Adams

by Brittany Meng

As photographers, I believe we love to be inspired just as much as we love to inspire others. We set goals, read inspirational quotes, listen to music, watch documentaries, all to inspire us to do more, be better, and live a fulfilling, happy life. This is what I feel we all seek in our life, and in our work, to be inspired.

Having a location that overwhelms you with possibilities and gets you excited because of all that you could do, is what I want to talk about.

One of the first things after setting a date with a client is, “Do you have a location in mind where you would like to have your pictures taken?”

Ah, the daunting task of narrowing it down. Here in Vegas, I feel like we tend to all show up at the same places;

Red Rock

Nelson’s Landing, Ghost town

Lake Las Vegas

Jean Dry Lake Bed

Don’t get me wrong; these are all excellent locations that I often visit. I love the tall green grass at Red Rock this time of year, and Nelson’s Landing has great textures and colors but these places are the hot spots. Because they are used over and over, what was once enjoyable becomes tedious and uninspiring.  I may have not even shot there before but because it has been used so many times I feel there is nothing unique about the location that I am offering to my client. I feel uninspired because this location is exhausted.

So here are some tips to mix it up.

Drive with the intention of looking for new ideas for locations.

Look at the light, look and the smaller details, not just the overall spot.

When I find myself getting bored with what I have been doing, I pack things up, drag my kids out to the car and go hunting for new spots.

I say hunting, yes, because it is not easy; you really need to look.

Take back roads instead of freeways and main streets. Get your GPS so you don’t get lost, and start driving. Keep these ideas in mind as you search out new locations:

Look for locations at the same time of day you want to be shooting at them. You might go right past a spot that during midday is boring but at sunset has magnificent lighting.

Look for variety in textures and colors. This will be more enjoyable to the clients when looking through their photos.

Get off the beaten path. But also make sure it is practical enough to get there again when taking clients.

Just get out and shoot. You never know until you try. Make sure to have your camera ready and don’t pass the opportunity when you see something to stop; get out and take a picture.

Check out the grounds around hospitals, hotels, and libraries. As a whole it might not be exactly what you are looking for, but often times these types of places have interesting walls and architecture. Don’t be shy about getting back in the car and go to several locations to be able to give your best.

Driving around I found this gem. You can’t see it from the road; you have to walk down into it. But I was thrilled when I happened upon this spot. It has great color awesome lighting, and it gave the city look I wanted, perfect for this recent senior session.

This abandoned house provided great texture for a backdrop. (I talked with a neighbor about the property to get permission.)

This is just an empty lot across the street from a high school with developed trees. The funny thing is that I drove past this location so many times coming home from a friend’s house, never giving a second thought about it. Now it is one of my favorite places.


This is at a school. They have colorful door and trim. I loved it for senior pictures.


I just kept driving till I ran out of road and came into this. You feel as if you are alone in the desert and really it is only minutes away from a shopping center.

My husband is a law student at UNLV so I have to put in my disclaimer about trespassing. Just because there isn’t a sign, it doesn’t mean it is legal. Though sometimes I wish it was that easy. Take the time to find out. Be careful and have fun. Get out there and lets show what Vegas has to offer!


KEG Admin. said...

Well done, Brittany! Well done!!!!!!!!!! We are all sooooo proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Great article!

Anonymous said...

Brittany - thanks for the great article! I get stuck in a rut when it comes to locations... I need to open my eyes to find new places!

Elder Larkin said...

I have gone out several times to hunt for great locations, because I too am using the same places
over and over again. Great article! It makes me want to go out right now and find a unique setting.