Expert Tips: Fashion Photography Location Scouting
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Research and Plan for the Shoot
  2. Find Unique Locations
  3. Check the Lighting and Weather
  4. Get Permission for the Location
  5. Plan for Logistics and Accessibility
  6. Consider the Backgrounds
  7. Prepare for the Unexpected
  8. Take Test Shots

When it comes to making a fashion statement with your lens, the magic begins long before the shutter clicks. Fashion photography location scouting is a game-changer in this field, turning ordinary photos into extraordinary narratives. It's like picking the perfect stage for your fashion story to unfold. Let's jump right into the nitty-gritty of scouting the best locations for your fashion shoots.

Research and Plan for the Shoot

To start your fashion photography location scouting journey, you need a solid plan. Just as a tailor needs measurements before cutting the fabric, you can't just wander around aimlessly hoping to stumble upon a perfect location. Here's a clear-cut plan to get you started:

  • Know Your Narrative: Your location should echo the story your fashion shoot wants to tell. A grungy alleyway might serve a punk-inspired shoot well, while a sunny beach might be perfect for a swimwear collection. Understand your shoot's theme and style before you step out to scout.
  • Research is Key: Do your homework. Scour the internet, use Google Maps, flip through travel magazines, or even look at movie stills for inspiration. The more you know about potential locations, the easier it is to pick the right one.
  • Plan Your Route: Don't waste time zigzagging across town. Plan a logical route through the areas you want to explore. It will save you time and energy, which you can then spend on capturing the perfect shot.
  • Keep the Outfits in Mind: Remember, the location should complement the outfits, not overshadow them. Keep the fashion element at the forefront of your planning. A glamorous gown might not jive with a rural barn setting, unless that's the contrast you're aiming for.
  • Document Everything: Keep notes, take photos, or even sketch the locations that catch your eye. This will help you remember the specifics of each place when you're making your final decision.

Remember, fashion photography location scouting isn't just about finding a beautiful place—it's about finding the right place that will bring out the best in your shoot. So, put on your explorer hat and let's find that perfect backdrop!

Find Unique Locations

Once you've done your research and mapped out your plan, it's time to pound the pavement and find those unique locations. But what exactly makes a location unique? Well, it's not always about the grandeur or the exotic—it's about finding a location that adds depth and dimension to your fashion story. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Look Beyond the Obvious: Sure, landmarks and famous spots can make for great backdrops, but don't limit yourself to the tried and tested. Sometimes, the most stunning fashion photography location is hiding in plain sight—a colorful graffiti wall, a quaint cafe corner, or even a flight of stairs with interesting architecture could add an unexpected flair to your shoot.
  • Use Your Creativity: See things from a different perspective. Look up, look down, look around. A bird's eye view of a bustling market or a worm's eye view of a towering skyscraper, can give your photos a unique twist.
  • Think Outside the Box: Don't confine your fashion photography location scouting to just outdoor spots. Think about indoor locations like vintage stores, libraries, or even old factories. These can provide an interesting backdrop and a break from the usual outdoor locations.
  • Embrace the Mundane: Not every fashion shoot needs a glamorous or exotic location. Sometimes, the simplest or most ordinary places can be transformed through your lens. An old garage door, a laundromat, or a subway station could be just what your fashion story needs.

Remember, the world is your canvas. So, keep an open mind, let your creativity fly, and you'll find that perfect spot for your fashion photography.

Check the Lighting and Weather

Once you've found some great locations, it's time to take a closer look at the lights and skies. The lighting and weather are key players in the game of fashion photography location scouting, and they can make or break your shoot. Here are some tips to help you navigate these factors:

  • Study the Light: Light plays a vital role in any photograph. Are you planning a sunrise or sunset shoot? How does the light fall on your location during these times? If you're shooting in the middle of the day, will there be harsh shadows? Understanding the light will help you plan your shoot better.
  • Scout at the Right Time: Visit your chosen location at the same time of day as your planned shoot. This will give you an accurate understanding of how the light interacts with the location, allowing you to plan your shots accordingly.
  • Weather Watch: Keep an eye on the weather forecast. A sudden downpour could ruin your shoot, while a cloudy day could provide the perfect soft light. So, make sure you're prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store.
  • Use Weather to Your Advantage: Don't be disheartened if the weather isn't perfect. Sometimes, less-than-ideal conditions—like an overcast sky or a light drizzle—can add an interesting element to your photos. The key is to be adaptable and make the most of what you have.

Remember, the goal is not to fight against the light and weather, but to work with them. By understanding and adapting to these elements, you can enhance the beauty of your fashion photographs.

Get Permission for the Location

Getting permission for the location is a step in fashion photography location scouting that you can't afford to overlook. Here's why:

  • Stay on the Right Side of the Law: You don't want to get into trouble for trespassing, do you? When you have the proper permissions, you can focus on your shoot without worrying about legal issues.
  • Maintain Professionalism: Getting permissions shows that you respect the location and the people who own or manage it. It also sets a good example for your team and clients.
  • Ensure Access: Sometimes, a great location may not be readily accessible. You may need keys to a gate, or special permission to bring in equipment. Having the right permissions can help you avoid these roadblocks.

So, how do you go about getting permission? It depends on the location. For private properties, reach out to the owners. For public locations, you might need to contact the local government or parks department. When in doubt, do a bit of homework to find out who's in charge, and then ask nicely!

Don't forget, it's always a good idea to have a Plan B location in mind. In the world of fashion photography location scouting, things don't always go according to plan, but that doesn't mean your shoot has to suffer.

Plan for Logistics and Accessibility

Planning for logistics and accessibility during your fashion photography location scouting process can be a game changer. Let's break it down:

  • Transportation: Think about how you and your team will get to the location. Is it accessible by car, or will you need to hike or take a boat? Consider the type of vehicles you'll need, the cost of transportation, and the time it will take to reach the location.
  • Equipment: Your shoot might require a lot of equipment. How will you get it to the location? If the location is remote or difficult to access, you might need to pare down your equipment list or find creative ways to transport it.
  • Facilities: Does the location have restrooms? Is there somewhere for the models to change outfits? If not, you'll need to make arrangements. This could mean bringing a portable dressing room, or hiring a nearby venue for the day.
  • Food and Drink: A hungry team is not a happy team! Make sure you plan for meals and refreshments. If the location is remote, you might need to bring everything with you.

Remember, the time you spend on planning logistics and accessibility now will pay off on the day of the shoot. Your team will appreciate your foresight — and so will your clients.

So, keep these tips in mind the next time you're scouting for a fashion photography location. They might just save the day!

Consider the Backgrounds

When it comes to fashion photography location scouting, backgrounds play a starring role. They set the mood, tell a story, and can either enhance or detract from your fashion pieces. So, how should you approach this?

  • Match the Mood: If you're shooting a line of urban wear, a graffiti-filled alley might be perfect. If it's a high-end couture line, maybe you'll want an elegant mansion or a sleek cityscape. Remember the background should complement the fashion, not overpower it.
  • Consider Color and Texture: The color and texture of your background can either clash or harmonize with your fashion pieces. A background with rough textures might bring out the softness of a silk gown, or a vibrant color could make a monochrome outfit pop.
  • Think About Scale: Are you shooting close-ups or full-length shots? The size and detail of your background can have a big impact. For close-ups, you might want a simple, uncluttered background, while full-length shots can handle more detail.

As you can see, choosing the right background requires a keen eye and plenty of thought. But when you nail it, your fashion photos will be a knockout. So, next time you're out and about, don't just look around—look behind you, too!

Prepare for the Unexpected

When it comes to fashion photography location scouting, unpredictability goes with the territory. Even the best-laid plans can go awry. So, how do you deal with the curveballs that might come your way?

  • Have a Backup Plan: If your chosen location suddenly becomes unavailable, having a backup can save the day. So, don't just scout one location—scout two or three! You never know when you might need an alternative.
  • Prepare for Weather Changes: Weather can be fickle, especially if you're shooting outdoors. Always check the forecast and plan accordingly, but also bring along some weather-proof gear just in case.
  • Carry Extra Equipment: From batteries running out to lenses getting damaged, equipment mishaps can happen. Carrying extra gear can save you from a lot of stress.

Remember, the unexpected doesn't have to be a disaster—it can also lead to some amazing shots. But only if you're prepared. So, expect the best, but always prepare for the worst.

Take Test Shots

A key part of fashion photography location scouting involves taking test shots. Why? Because it's one thing to see a location with your own eyes, and quite another to see how it translates through your camera lens.

  • Understand the Space: By taking test shots, you can get a sense of the space. It helps you understand how to position your model and set up your equipment for the best results.
  • Gauge the Lighting: Locations can look drastically different under varying light conditions. Test shots allow you to assess how the lighting at different times of the day impacts your images.
  • Spot Potential Issues: Finally, they can help you identify any potential issues—like an unsightly background element or a distracting shadow—that you might need to address on the actual shoot day.

So next time you're scouting for a fashion photography location, don't just look around. Take out your camera and start snapping some test shots. You might be surprised at what you find!

If you enjoyed our expert tips on fashion photography location scouting and want to dive deeper into the world of fashion photography, check out the workshop 'Starting Out In Fashion Photography' by Tiffany Mumford. This workshop will not only provide you with valuable insights on location scouting but also guide you through the essentials of starting a career in fashion photography.