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Mar 142014

                                                                  Anna Gay Posted by Ana Gay

Anna Gay is a portrait photographer based in Athens, GA and the author of the dPS ebook The Art of Self-Portraiture. She also designs actions and textures for Photoshop. When she is not shooting or writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband, and their two cats, Elphie and Fat Cat.

If you prefer to shoot in natural light, you may not always have the luxury of photographing your clients in a private space. If you are photographing them in public, though, this can pose its on set of challenges! Here are a few tips on how to make photographing your clients in public a positive experience.

  1. Get to know your client. If they are really outgoing, then photographing them in a public area should be a breeze. If they are at all shy or self-conscious in front of the camera, though, they may not enjoy having their photo made in a location with a lot of people around. Personally, I’m fairly shy, and I get super-duper-self-conscious when someone is taking my picture, so I prefer to have as few people around as possible!
  2. If you do have a shy client on your hands, try finding a secluded spot. For example, if you are in a park, try to get away from the areas that have a lot of pedestrian traffic. Plus, if you get off the beaten path (literally) you may find areas that are more photogenic.
  3. Try to find a location that is familiar to your client. Maybe they have a favorite spot – like a park, or even a favorite neighborhood in their city. Choosing a location that is familiar, or meaningful, to your client will help put them at ease in front of the camera.
  4. Be considerate of the people who are not in your photo. There are few things more annoying than a photographer who swoops in and completely dominates the area! Be mindful of others who are nearby, and keep as low of a profile as you can. Drawing as little attention to yourself as a photographer will help reduce the amount of attention on your client from bystanders.
  5. Also, with the thought of being low-key in mind, you may want to consider lightening your load in terms of equipment when you are photographing in public. Lugging around a lot of gear is not only difficult, but having a huge set-up can be a nuisance to people in the area who are not having you take their picture.
  6. Last but not least, when you are photographing in public, make 100% sure that you do not need a permit to be photographing in your selected location. It sounds wild, but a lot of public places, such as parks, do require professional photographers to obtain a license before their shoot. I can’t think of anything more awkward than being asked to leave a location because you didn’t pick up a license beforehand, so doing some quick research on this before your shoot can save you time and embarrassment!
Mar 142014

Posted by Anna Gay  |

I’m pretty sure we have all been in this situation, at least once: you’re hired for a shoot, and the location is far from aesthetically pleasing. Whether you’re shooting portraits, commercial work, or environmental photos, there are plenty of ways you can work around the fact that you’re in a not-so-interesting location.

1. Shoot From Interesting Angles 

Take a moment to look at the scene, visualizing angles that will make your composition more interesting. Sometimes, shooting from a higher, or lower, angle than you would normally shoot will make all the difference in the world, and will also help take attention away from the aspects of the location that are not as interesting as others.

2. Focus Experiment with focus

If you are photographing people, try shooting with a wide aperture in order to blur out the location, and bring focus to your subject. If you are not photographing people, look for interesting details in the location, and focus in on the details, rather than the scope of the scene.

3. Lighting 

If you have a flash, or any type of studio light, a little bit of light can go a long way in upping the interest factor in your photos. Experiment with low and high key light, and also, similar to focus, look for interesting details in the location to accentuate with lighting.

4. Time of Day

A location may be uninteresting at one time of day, but at a different time of day, it may look completely different. Try shooting in the golden hour – either early in the morning, or late in the evening, to achieve golden, hazy light. Or, think about how the scene would look at night, shot with a long exposure.

5. Post-Processing 

When in doubt, consult Lightroom and Photoshop! The danger in post-processing photos from an uninteresting location, however, is the tendency some people have to over-edit. This is a situation where you really, really need not over-edit, as it will appear as though you are over-compensating, thus drawing attention to the uninteresting location. Keep it simple – see how the image looks in black and white, or try your hand at (extremely minimal) HDR, in order to bring out more highlights and shadows.

These are just a few of the many possibilities for making a location appear more interesting. Do you have any tips or tricks you would like to share?