How to be an On Location Photographer

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You travel, you have a camera, and you take pictures. In a way, you all are on location photographer. However, there is a difference between amateur photography and professional photography. Not every people who take pictures are photographers. Let us say, you have left amateur photography and you are walking on the road to become a professional, and you are confused about the kind of photography you want to do. If you enjoy shooting outdoors, maybe you will become a great on location photographer.

Every genre of photography has its own challenge and excitement, and you should be prepared for it. On location photography can be more exciting, more challenging than the studio photography because of its limitless opportunities. As an on location photographer, you can try street photography, or nature photography. You can also do on location portrait photography.

Camera: Canon EOS Kiss F; F-stop: f/13; Exposure time: 1/4000 sec; ISO speed: ISO-400; Focal length: 55 mm; White balance: manual
Camera: Canon EOS Kiss F; F-stop: f/13; Exposure time: 1/4000 sec; ISO speed: ISO-400; Focal length: 55 mm; White balance: manual | Source

What kind of photography do you enjoy?

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10-Step Guide to Become an On Location Photographer


Determine what kind of on location photographer you want to become. Do you want to work with models on the location, or simply want to capture color, texture and mood of the location? As an on location photographer, you can try variety of things. You can work with landscapes, portraits, streets, landmarks etc.

Before you travel to your location, you should properly understand your location. You should be aware whether the location is private or public, silent or noisy, lonely or crowded. Of course, you can get great shots on crowded and noisy places, but you have to understand all the disturbances you could come across.

Compose your image with great care. Background has to be strong to strengthen visual impact of the photo. You can begin by taking pictures without the subject, this will help you compose your photo during actual shooting.

Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi; F-stop: f/5; Exposure time 1/500; ISO speed: ISO-100; Focal lenght: 70mm; White balance: Auto; Exposure bias: 0 step
Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi; F-stop: f/5; Exposure time 1/500; ISO speed: ISO-100; Focal lenght: 70mm; White balance: Auto; Exposure bias: 0 step | Source

Before you begin shooting, you must see, in your mind, the kind of image you want to get. Plan your photography session. Make a list of the monuments, statues, buildings, temples, churches etc. in the location that you think worth capturing. If you are lost, take a cue from other photographers’ works.

If you are working with models, you should determine makeup, clothing, light etc. according to the location. Location and the subject must complement each other. Before you travel to the location, you should know your model better. Knowing your subject can give you head start to choose a location.

If you love doing portrait photography on location, emphasis must be on the subject more than the exotic location. Location you choose for your subject, must burnish your subject’s personality.

While choosing a location, you have to consider the time of the day, season and whether condition. Indoor location and outer location demands different kinds of lighting arrangements. You can use Fill light, or even flash, but try to depend on natural light. Choose a location that has diffuse light.

Camera: NIKON D60; F-stop: f/8; Exposure time:1/250; ISO speed: ISO-200; Exposure bias: -1; Focal length: 55 mm; White Balance: Auto
Camera: NIKON D60; F-stop: f/8; Exposure time:1/250; ISO speed: ISO-200; Exposure bias: -1; Focal length: 55 mm; White Balance: Auto | Source

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Carefully choose a vantage point (viewpoint). Vantage point can reveal the foreground and background wonderfully. Your perspective should give depth to your image. Vary your vantage point. Take a large-scale shot as well as focus on small details. You can photograph the entire are in a wide angle, as well as capture the face of a statue in the same location. Capture the same subject in different angles and perspective. Get a good viewpoint for panorama shot

Try to capture the most important thing in the location, it could be landmarks, parks, river anything. Vary your shots with people and without people. Don’t hurry clicking here and there. Be patient and carefully choose the subject.

Don’t exclude people from your lens. Whether it is urban or rural location, people define the location. Try to capture people in natural way and avoid making them self conscious. Maybe you want to do a close up of a person, however, ask approval before you take a picture.

Camera: NIKON D3000; F-stop: f/9; Exposure time: 1/320; ISO speed: ISO-200; Expossure bias: 0 step; Focal length: 20 mm; White balance: Auto
Camera: NIKON D3000; F-stop: f/9; Exposure time: 1/320; ISO speed: ISO-200; Expossure bias: 0 step; Focal length: 20 mm; White balance: Auto | Source
Camera: NIKON D3000; F-stop f/4.8; Exposure time: 1/1000 sec; ISO speed: ISO-200; Focal length: 32 mm; White balance: Auto
Camera: NIKON D3000; F-stop f/4.8; Exposure time: 1/1000 sec; ISO speed: ISO-200; Focal length: 32 mm; White balance: Auto | Source

Essential Tools For On Location Photographer

Camera, lens, tripods etc. are most important tools for a photographer. However, there are also some other tools to make on location photographer’s job easier.

Visual Diary

Begin your photography career by maintaining a visual diary. Take notes on your assignments, works to be completed, details of shot, sketch idea for photography etc. Your visual diary is your storyboard.

Map

Before you travel, you have to do some research about your location. Google Map can be a wonderful tool, it can tell you about almost everything.

Weather Report

It is true that you can make use of all kinds of weather conditions; however, if you have particular idea in your mind, you should check weather report of your location. You can use television, newspaper, even Smartphone apps to determine the weather.

Smartphone Apps

Smartphone apps can be a wonderful tool for on location photographers. Look for the apps that tell you about world time, local weather, sunrise/sunset etc.

Photography Websites

Maybe you want to photograph Australian Opera House, it is one of the most photographed buildings. Look at the photographs on this location. This will give you a new viewpoint. Photography websites are very helpful not only to learn but also share your works.

Camera: Canon EOS Kiss F; F-stop: f/11; Exposure time: 1/200 sec; ISP speed: ISO-100; Focal length: 30 mm
Camera: Canon EOS Kiss F; F-stop: f/11; Exposure time: 1/200 sec; ISP speed: ISO-100; Focal length: 30 mm | Source

Location Scouting For On Location Photography

On location photography can be fulfilling only when you have a great location. Packing your equipments and heading to the destination can most of the time become waste of time and money, you have to do some research about the location. If you are a beginner, you can try with the places you are familiar.

Finding location can be bothersome but it can also provide great opportunities for the on location photographers. Location scouting will help you to find great locations for your photography sessions.

When you are out for a leisure walk, carry your equipment. Take pictures. Later these pictures can give you some idea about your location. You don’t have to carry your professional camera, even your phone camera will be helpful during your photo walk.

Take a break from your shooting schedule and roam in the surrounding area. You can find another great location, if you minutely observed the location.

Understand the lighting condition. Your location will become great only when you have great lighting conditions. Lighting conditions are determined by various factors such as time of the day, season, weather etc.

When you are on location scouting, shoot as much as you can. Photos taken during location scouting can give you interesting location ideas. You can even understand lighting and get viewpoint. This will help you to compose your photo better.

Camera: NIKON D3000; F-stop: f/7.1; Exposure time: 1/250 sec; ISO speed: ISO-100; Focal length: 24 mm; White balance: Auto
Camera: NIKON D3000; F-stop: f/7.1; Exposure time: 1/250 sec; ISO speed: ISO-100; Focal length: 24 mm; White balance: Auto | Source

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Comments 16 comments

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal Author

Many great photographers are self taught. And many begin with on location photography. Thanks for your comment.


StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 3 years ago from Rindge, NH

Great article and some excellent tips. I have done location photography (self taught) for most of my life and have learned by trial and error. I will use the Google the location tip when heading towards a site well known. Never occurred to me to do this.

Interesting Useful Thumbs Up


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal Author

Hello Maria,

Thanks for always appreciating my works. Photography is my hobby, but writing is my vocation. I share what I learn. But I'm not a teacher.

Street photography is challenging but it is wonderful.

Cheers


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Vinaya,

I am in awe of your talent as both a photographer and a writer. Your work is always of such a professional caliber.

You are a natural teacher and I thank you for sharing your gifts.

I especially appreciate street photography...impulsive slices of life.

Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal Author

@Mhatter, glad to know that.Thanks

@Faith, we seem to be thinking in the same way. Thanks.

@Lovedoc, US embassy in Nepal turns down many visa applicants. I hope I will make through for your wedding. LOL

@tillsontitan, I'm ready for private tutoring, however, in return I need you to guide me to write a thesis on Acamedy Awards. LOL.

@Billy, thanks for always complementing my works.

@Eddy, you are wonderful.

@always exploring, that is one of my favorite pictures. Thanks for your comment.

@Radha, I also love nature photography, but I love street photography even more.

@Dzy, did you say 8, wow. I have taken interest in photography since I was a kid, but not that young. Thanks for sharing your experience. I will take a look at your tutorials.

@Audrey, thanks for being here.

@Frank, I have not brushed these images, I used Photoshop just to crop and compress photo. Thanks for your comment.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

Location Photo/journalist seems to gather the true...gritty.. and non-brushed photos.. Yeah a great share my friend :)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Great photos--especially of the child and goat--very organized in the presentation of material---


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

Great photos and excellent tips. I've been taking photos since age 8, and while I am not a professional in the sense of getting paid for my work, I would consider myself an advanced amateur, and have written several tutorial hubs here on various aspects of photography.

You have covered some very important considerations in planning and scouting locations ahead of time, and taking many things into account. Voted up, interesting and useful.


radhapriestess 3 years ago

Some great photos in here and a great article on the topic. I do nature photography, but I sometimes take photos of interesting people like Buddhists priests in the Peace Garden or people practicing the martial arts in there.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

It is so kind of you to share your knowledge with us hubbers. I love the picture of the little boy. Thank you again.....


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

A wonderful hub and just the one I need to learen from. Keep them coming and have a wonderful weekend.

Eddy.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I can learn many things about photography from you my friend. You are knowledgeable and an excellent teacher. Thank you!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Vinaya, I need you as my private tutor ;) Your photos are always so amazing and having read this hub it is no wonder as your knowledge of photography is so extensive. This is a hub to come back to...to remember all the great tips!

Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful, interesting, shared and pinned!


lovedoctor926 3 years ago

These are some useful tips and suggestions from a professional photographer. I've thought of taking photography classes as a hobby since I do love taking pics. I see myself as a location photographer as opposed to studio. Remember I'm still hiring you for my beach wedding photos. lol. voted up!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Being an on location photographer seems a lot more interesting than studio to me, as there is an endless amount to shoot in our beautiful creation.

Thanks for another great hub here full of useful information.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

Peace, Faith Reaper


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Many moons ago, I was the photographer for Energetic Productions. (dance, models)

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