How to Vet a Location


You’ve envisioned a session on location and just have to find the right spot for it. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when scouting a site. 

  • Is it a private or public location, and would permissions or permits be required to photograph there?
  • Is it reasonable to expect that you won’t be disrupted by people who aren’t involved in the session?
  • Are safety precautions necessary due to issues such as traffic, slick rocks, or sheer drop-offs?
  • Any wildlife or insect risks? Does anyone in the client or assistant group have insect or plant allergies that could require emergency assistance?
  • What level of mobility is needed to reach the location?
  • Could there be other photographers trying to use the same location at the same time?
  • How close can you park, and how far is the location from the client’s home and your studio?
  • What is the terrain like if there’s been recent precipitation? 
  • What kind of shoes will subjects be wearing in the photos? If they need to change shoes on site, is there somewhere suitable to sit?
  • Is there a restroom close by?
  • Are electric outlets available?
  • Will you need to bring water, sunscreen, sun shade?
  • If the client brings a bag or other personal belongings, is there a safe, clean spot where they can set aside their items during the session?
  • Does the appearance of the location support the story you want to tell about your client?
  • Is the location uniform and does it fulfill the client’s desired look? Check for anything out of place such as a modern element in an otherwise rustic setting.
  • Where will the sun and shade be at different times of day and seasons?
  • Are there any buildings or structures at the location that enhance or detract from the setting?
  • Is there commercial branding, signage, or art that would require you to obtain licensing? Could such items be digitally removed in post-production? 

Thanks to PPA members Julie Kubal, Jo Anne Richards, and Kenneth Johansen for their contributions.