Okay, there is no such thing as a perfect location, right? Its about finding the perfect location for YOUR shoot.

We live in India and finding a perfect place to shoot can sometimes be hard. Not too many open spaces, permissions can be a pain and there is a general fear of ‘what if we are turned down on the shoot day to shoot at a particular spot’.

Let me correct myself by saying that there are very few ‘perfect’ locations. I’m not saying there aren’t any but just that it’s hard to get. You also wouldn’t want to shoot at the same places again and again, right? So how do we make our own version of a perfect shoot location?

I think there are a few key things we can work with.

Inspiration: Planning a shoot means figuring out the location to shoot ‘their’ photos in. It also means being inspired by them to find the right location for their shoot. The starting point to any location search is always who they are, what do they want, what do they like and what can I create for them. I did a maternity shoot recently with an architect and interior designer couple. We finalised on architectural backgrounds for their pictures and it was such a refreshing change for me as well.

Make it a collaborative effort: Once you understand what they want, its where the collaborative effort begins. Ask questions, get suggestions, guide them and dig deeper into coming up with places to shoot. Together we talk and come up with places. Share your thoughts with them about what kind of location you like shooting in. Most often it works wonders. This family found a beautiful farm 2 mins away from their home.

Homes: I have shot at so many different homes, and honestly, it’s a wonderful backdrop to family photos (If they have good light that is!!) It’s a matter of comfort and familiarity that makes it fantastic. Finding the right places within the house to capture images in, is key. It’s the most underestimated place but sometimes the most powerful to get character into images.

It’s Your shoot: When you do a shoot, they want your style in the images. So, hand hold the location selection process that will get you excited to shoot in! We all know that a location can totally define how the shoot will be. So maybe investing some time in helping find the right place will be the game changer.

When I recently did a shoot for Edita. She told me she didn’t want greenery and was more inspired by light and shadows. So, we worked with that. One day, I was driving by and saw a sort of run-down construction site. I’ve passed that road numerous times and never noticed it. But on this occasion, I was looking out for something. The watchman said we needed permissions from higher authorities. I spoke to him multiple times to convince him for us to do the shoot but in vain. Last call on shoot day at 11am, he finally agreed. The only reason he agreed, I think, is because of perseverance. The only reason I did it is because that place was perfect for what we wanted to do. Because that’s the vision I had for that shoot.

Being aware: We travel across the city for our chores, jobs, or shoots. When I’m driving in a certain part of town, I’m always scouting for places that fit the brief for the upcoming shoots. Look out, you never know when something will present itself to you.

Create one: Creating a setup in a given location is very exciting. Use all the available information about the place to do this. Let me give you an example of how to work this one.

I shot at a couple’s home recently with a skylight (a place where I could shoot from the top). Now, if you have a drone, then your sorted, but since I don’t, I need the architecture to do it. I decided I wanted to do something here. I walked around their house looking for things that might work for a top shot. Found a carpet, then the plants, cushions, candles, throws, trays, flowers, etc. I ran around frantically collecting things and put it all together the way I wanted it.

The eye for it: When you do find a place its about finding the right spots in that place to capture what you want. To make it look spectacular not just another shot you have seen before. Sometimes just the road in front of your house makes for that perfect composition if you can see the shot in your mind’s eye first. Its how ‘you’ see it.

Improvise: We shot till the light was almost out inside. Then we went to the terrace. Not planned and nothing fancy but we got that perfect podcast cover image they wanted.

The location is the premise to make the main person/subject the hero of our shoot.

Explore, experiment, enjoy, understand light, understand spaces and work with it all!

Shruti Moghe