Last week I kicked off our current blog post series on outdoor photo adventures by talking about the biggest secret to successful outdoor photography, as well as a strategy for capturing natural moments with your kids. This week I want to talk about:
Choosing the perfect location
This is important because my top criteria for the perfect location for outdoor photography is not what you'd expect. It's not about finding a beautiful location with open spaces, plenty to do, and not too many crowds, although that can all help. It's not about looking for the right light, or lots of different backdrops, or areas of shade, although that can all help too.
The perfect location to photograph your family is a location that has meaning to you.
What experience do you want to give your kids? What do you most want to capture about them and this time in your life? Is there a special location that you visit a lot that they will be thrilled to go to and that you KNOW you will want to remember them at? Or is there somewhere new that you've been planning on visiting that you know will make for a special trip?
And yes, there are other more expected things to consider too.
The ideal location would have:
- enough space and not too many crowds so you're not constantly trying to avoid bumping into people or having strangers appear in your photos
- areas of shade so you can get out of direct sunlight
- plenty to do to keep your kids engaged and occupied as you take photos
- lots of different settings and backdrops so you can get a variety of photos and have lots of opportunities to try different things
- good light - usually going earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon is better than trying to deal with the midday sun
Sometimes it's fun to go out with the main purpose of taking photos- photography can be a great catalyst or excuse to take your family out on an adventure. But sometimes the adventure is the main priority and the location may not be ideal for photos... but you want to document it anyway.
Here are some common challenges and how to overcome them:
- If it's crowded: first capture the moment, but then, if you have time, try to improve on how you captured it by moving to see if you can get the people in the background out of your camera frame, or hidden by your subject.
- If there is no shade: get the sun behind your subject so they're not squinting at you and their face is in shade so you avoid harsh unflattering shadows.
- If you can't get a good angle: capture the moment anyway, as a reminder or trigger, even if you can't get everything in the photo that you want. You can also try taking several photos to stitch or group together later. If you can't get far enough back to get everything in the frame of your DSLR, switch to your iphone. Or hand your phone to someone else who might be better positioned!
And one final tip:
Don't forget to get into a few photos yourself! Use the forward facing camera on your iphone, or hand your camera to someone else (spouse, friend or stranger!) to take a photo.