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Location Scout for Commercial Photography

May 2, 2022
My photographer is trying to get me to pay for a location scout before their shoot. Is it worth it? Yes, it is an investment in the success of your shoot!
My photographer is trying to get me to pay for a location scout before their shoot. Is it worth it? Yes, it is an investment in the success of your shoot!

BioTech Photography Preparation

A location scout before your photo shoot is an investment in the success of your marketing project.

It optimizes the time your photographer spends on an image, solidifies image story concepts for your web rebrand (or other marketing tool), and helps to control how much impact the shoot will have on your company’s work day.

In short, yes. It is worth it simply for the peace of mind it will bring to you on your shoot date.

Location Scouting preps the scene
Color card behind the scenes.

What is a location scout?

Shot List Production Schedule confirmed by Location Scout
Shot List Production Schedule confirmed by Location Scout

There are more than a few different definitions for a location scout, depending on the needs of any given production and production company, whether it is stills or video.

Sometimes, people call it a site assessment or or even a preproduction meeting.

On a conceptual level, the goal of the location scout is to make the shoot day as easy and as straight forward as possible.

It is there to maximize the results of all the effort going into the shoot and get the best images possible for your marketing program. And, to give you peace of mind that everything will go as smoothly as possible during the shoot.

In actuality, the location scout is simply a walk through of the area with your shot list in hand. It is where the client and I decide on the who, what, where, when and how of each shot on the list. The “why” was answered during the creation of the shot list.

Location Scouting Answers The Basics

  • Who needs to be there for the shoot. Who is the star of the photo? Who is the background in the shot? Also, who will be impacted by the production in that area? And, who needs to approve that image?
  • What needs to be in the shot. What needs to be removed from the set. What props etc are needed?
  • Where is the point of view of the image (where is the camera going to be). Where is the light coming from. Where are potential hazards? Where are potential variations to consider?
    When will the shot happen?
  • How long should it take? How long do we need the talent?
    How does the shot come together? Do we need extra lighting or special equipment?
  • What else is necessary to achieve the goals of the shoot?

Why I recommend location scouting to my clients?

Location scout for framing
I think the plans are upside down.

Running a photo shoot in your office or facility can be a fairly stressful occasion.

It can be disruptive. It can rearrange all the furniture. It can be side tracked by key people being in meetings. Or by props or products not being available.

By using the shot list and investing in a location scout, you can help to control some of the stress and reduce the impact on your team.

When should I do a location scout?

Take good note while location scouting
Take good note while location scouting. Proper planning prevents poor photography

First of all, not all shoots need a location scout.

If it is a series of executive portraits on a background, we just need to know that we have space enough for a simple set and backdrop.

But, if we are planning executive portraits as environmental setups, knowing about the locations ahead of time, knowing what will be behind the subjects and knowing what the light will look like is extremely helpful.

Generally speaking, a good time for the location scout is a week or two before the planned shoot date.

This will allow you to clean up an area, give the people to be in the photographs enough time to prepare themselves and their area and gather any props or products that are needed.

There is nothing worse than getting half way set up and realizing that the person or product is not available.

Sometimes, the only time available to scout is on the day of the shoot. That can be okay.

But, it does impact both the time available to actually produce the images and the ability to get people and products for the set up.

Can I Do My Own Location Scout?

Location Scout Contact Sheet

Of course you can do your own location scout!

Just remember to take a lot of scouting pictures at different angles in each location so that you can share them with the photographer.

This will help them to put together a proper plan for you.

Take a lot of notes about the who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Your photographer can help with the “when” and let you know how long each set up should take.

Remember, you are collaborating with your photographer to get the best images for your marketing.

Help your photographer to help you, and your shoot will be a success!

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