How to Scout a Location for a Corporate Photoshoot

The other title for this post would be, "How I drove 17 hours and ended up in Fresno for a corporate photoshoot" but that seemed a tad long. :) 

One of my clients, Invitae, needed fresh photos for their website relaunch and engaged me to do a series of photoshoots that depicted various emotions their clients experienced after working with them. Invitae provides genetic DNA testing to help people like you and me understand how our genes may affect our health. 

So what does all that have to do with 17 hours to Fresno? Well, the timing for the website launch (and therefore for the need of photos) was December, January and February...i.e. WINTER. We wanted to create a series of images that included a backyard barbecue, a family at the park, and a beach playdate among others. But - winter. The trees were dormant and it was rainy and c-o-l-d throughout California (yes, even Los Angeles and San Diego couldn't come through for us!)

So my trusted colleague (Erin Brennan of Women on a Mission) & I took a road trip to Fresno and beyond to find some usable locations for the shoot. Eventually, we were able to locate a beautiful park in Fresno for the family picnic and rented an Airbnb in Palm Springs for the backyard barbecue, then popped to Ocean Beach in San Francisco for our very quick beach scene. 

My point in sharing all of this is to learn from this experience is to share my Top 3 Tips for Location Scouting.

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1) Finding the Location of your Dreams: Depending on your photoshoot theme, look outside of your local means for something that will inspire you and provide the "OOMPH" for your photos. Think of the location as your extra model...it contributes to the story but isn't the star. We scoured dozens of Airbnb spaces until we found one that suited our purposes. For this shoot, I needed warm, sunny weather with green trees, a grill and a pool that was shaded in the morning during our shooting time. Here is one of the photos we created at the Airbnb house with the backyard cookout theme. 

 
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2) When the Season is Winter, Get Creative! When we pulled up to the park searching for greenery, all we saw was brown, brown, brown. The foliage (or lack thereof) was tired and borderline depressing...not the look we envisioned for the shoot! We searched and searched and eventually found this beautiful bike trail that depicted the exact emotions of freedom and connection we wanted to convey in our photo. Even when you can't SEE the location of your dreams in your head...keep looking and let your creativity get to work!

 
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3) Allow Yourself Flexibility: We only had 6 hours with the models at the park in Fresno. We had a long, long list of shots / scenes to photograph including a picnic, a birthday celebration, bike riding and more. My production team knows that, creatively, I need an hour of "free time" to shoot without bounds in order to get my clients the extra shots that will round out their gallery. It is so, so important to honor that creative spirit as it is what made your clients choose you in the first place!!! One of the "bonus" shots was this one of the mother/daughter set feeding the ducks at the pond. I love what the wardrobe stylist chose for this section of the shoot as the yellow really pops off the page without overwhelming the viewer. My final tip: take time to breathe and be creative!