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Scouting Location Pros and Cons

Lesson 12 from: Fine Art Conceptual Photography from Shoot through Post-Processing

Bella Kotak, Pratik Naik

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Lesson Info

12. Scouting Location Pros and Cons


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Artistic Vision and Inspiration


Personal Projects


Creative Motivation and Defining Your Story


Organizing Your Inspiration


Building A Character


Creating Wardrobe and Props


Location Scouting


Lesson Info

Scouting Location Pros and Cons

I hear this is gonna be exciting cause a lot of people are waiting for this. We started with on shoot location and lets start it up. Lets tell them what's coming up next. Yeah, so the first thing we did was location scout. And that's the video that you're gonna see right now. It has to be said that I don't often, like I said before, I don't often have opportunities to shoot in a location as opulent and as beautiful as this one was. We had loads of flowers, lots of abundance of natural life, that we could just kinda like, shoot in. So loads of different types of foliage, trees, options. I don't often have that in my daily life, as you know, I just use whatever I have around me. Make that work. So, when we were doing this, I had to be really specific about what I was after. And I had in mind two dresses. And we were just gonna look for locations depending on the dresses. And you'll see what happened. Hey guys, so we're here at Washington Park on Rue where we are gonna be shooting later...

today. I am so, so excited. So the first thing I like to do is location scout. Now, I'm really lucky to be shooting in a park like this. It's not often that I shoot in somewhere so beautiful and so opulent. So the choices that I have are abundant. So we're gonna have a look at this location cause when I was walking I saw it and I thought it was really, really pretty. So, this tree is so beautiful. It's blooming, the colors are white and neutral toned. It could potentially work. So the dress I had in mind is a red dress and that's pretty much the concept that I'm gonna use to, that's basically what I'm gonna use to build up the rest of the photo. So, it's beautiful because the color is white and it's neutral toned. I'm not sure if it's going to work with the concept. Lets have a look. At the moment, this is the kind of framing that I really like because, I like to shoot, I like to give myself options, but I like to shoot something where we've got the mono shot framed from the waist to the head and basically this could work, but there's too much of a gap here. So I could potentially bring this bit over using a bit of string. But I don't know if it would work because we are shooting it in a park after all and I have to be a bit respectful of the nature that I'm working within, so I think the gap here might be a little bit too much. Another thing as well that I'm trying to take into account if the fact that the lighting conditions as well. Right now I know that it's a little bit cloudy, but when the sun comes out, the sun is going to be over here and that's not gonna work with where the models going to be standing. So yeah, that's pretty much it. Those are my concerns. The color might now work well with the vibrant red that I have in mind, the gap is a problem and the lighting is something that I'm trying to really be conscious of because lighting really makes the picture. So yeah, that's one of the options. And I'm gonna show you guys another option as well that can work for a location as well. Lets go. So this is another location. It's beautiful, I absolutely love it. There's a few things about this place that I think would work really well when it comes to story telling image. It's not quite what I'm looking for when it comes to the photo that I have in mind. But what I will do is show you guys a few of the things that I really like about it. So the first thing is this path over here. Isn't it lovely? Like can we take a moment to appreciate this scene? It's so beautiful. But yeah, I love, love, love having paths in photographs and that's because they are really story telling to me. Cause you can have a girl in there, or a guy, and they can be off on a journey. Or they're coming back from a journey. Or where are they going? It's all very mysterious. And I think that's something that really draws me when it comes to photo. Another thing is is to consider the framing of it because a path can also, you can use it in a, you can use it in a photo to really frame the final photo and you can just lead the viewer into the picture as well, depending on where you're standing and how you're shooting it. Another thing, the trees. So I love texture in my photographs and these trees have so much beautiful texture and they just seem so romantic as well. I can imagine this scene shot first thing in the morning the lights coming out, or maybe sunset hour, that magic hour and all the lights are flooding into the scene. But yeah, even at this time of day it's really pretty. But not quite what I'm looking for. What else? Yes, the light, totally forgot to mention. So, I'm always, always, always looking at light and how it works in a photo. Especially when it comes to location scouting. This is the time when you really should be paying attention to where the light is coming from. In this case it's coming from over there so if I had the model in a scene she'll be standing in the middle and the light would just be hitting her from the side. So most likely I'd have her turned away facing that way so that the light hits beautifully across her face. But, it's beautiful, but not quite what I'm looking for. So I'm gonna go a little bit further and hopefully we'll find something that works. So I actually spotted this when I was over there and I love it. The colors are so pretty. This works with the kinda of picture I have in mind anyway so basically I have a red dress I really have been trying to pull the rest of the picture around. So I saw this when I was standing there and I thought it looked really pretty. So I'm gonna see how well it works. So the first thing I'm gonna notice is the fact that it's quite full, the flowers are really thick, and that's right up my street cause it means less Photoshopping. Secondly, I think there should be a gap here. Yeah, okay. So there's actually two plants coming out. There's one over there and one over there and this wraps around beautifully. So I should think this might work really well cause I can put the model in here. Like she can just step into the scene. I can wrap this around her and make it work. The light, as I mentioned, is over here. So I think that would still work really well especially if we had a reflector on this side to bounce some of it back as well. I love the fact that it goes further back. So that gives you depth in the photograph, like, if I have her stand here, then there's more things happening behind her filling the frame not all locations are perfect so you really have to work with what you've got. And honestly I've been quite spoiled over here. Because, because of this. In my final picture most likely what I would do is take some of this area and bring it here. It post processing and Photoshop. Just to fill it out a bit more because I notice there's a gap over here. But essentially, essentially I think this works. I think this works really well. And I like some of the greenery down here as well if I decided to go for a full shot. But I love it, I think it works really well and actually with the red dress and the red flowers, I already have an idea churning for a really striking picture. So, very, very excited and I think this is the location that we're gonna go for. Okay, what did you think? I thought it was great. Oh brilliant. I'm not biased or anything. (laughing) What did you think about that? Yeah, that was really interesting. I wanna ask you guys though, do you have any questions? So I noticed Bella that you were looking at multiple locations. Would you ever consider shooting in two or three locations for the one dress? Yeah, yeah I would. If I had the time, definitely. If I had the time there was another spot as well which had a blossom tree. And the flowers were white. So maybe the white against the red would have been another picture and another striking picture as well. I felt that the red bush with the red dress was a stronger photo, and that's why we went with that. But yeah, sometimes, if I had the time and if I love a piece so much, I will shoot in multiple locations with it. Because why not? But often I don't have the time and yeah, some day's I just fell like I got as much out of it from this dress as I could, and then we move on. So, yeah. You were talking about the secret. You know how you were saying you wish things that would come and you felt like the dress matched perfectly with the scene. That was actually accidental. It wasn't that we purposely were looking for a red bush. We found it just because you were wishing for it, right? Yeah, and I honestly think it's important. It's so important to ask the universe for what you want. I feel this happens to me all the time, at photo shoots. I will go out there not really knowing what I'm gonna find and I'll have an idea of what I wanna create. And often I'll exceed my own expectations. And that's because everything lined up perfectly. For example, for this pre shoot, it was supposed to be a sunny day. Like a partly sunny day, and the sunshine was supposed to happen, but actually I really wanted a cloudy day, so I was like please, please let it be a cloudy day. But no rain, but a cloudy day. And we got it, yeah we got a cloudy day initially and then we got some sunshine later. But then luckily the spot I picked the sunlight, it was in the shade, and the sunlight was actually at the back. So it didn't matter anyway. Would you have considered the other location if for any other reason? Probably lighting. If the lighting didn't work here, then I had a back up location. So if the lighting didn't work here on the actual day, then I would have been like guys, it's not working. And I would have said that. I love this location, but it's not working. We're gonna have to find another spot. And that's probably what we would have done. What is your optimal lighting, cause you've mentioned lighting a couple of times, and I'd just like to know what you prefer most for your lighting set up, natural light. Great, I'm so glad you said that. Clouds, yeah. (laughing) And it's really funny cause I hated cloudy days, with a passion, especially when you live in England. You get gray cloudy days all the time. But I feel like, shooting outside a lot has definitely woken up a new found appreciation for the beauty of diffused light. So on cloudy days, what happens is the sun is still shining above them, and so all the light it spills out on to us, is very soft and diffused and even toned. So, really, it's sometimes it's difficult especially when the clouds are low, heavy, and gray to shoot in those conditions because when the model is looking at you straight on there's a lot of hooded shadows. But even then, if you just tilt the chin up the light spills really beautifully across the face. And a really even toned, naturalistic way. And that's ideal. And directionally, side light, always Yeah, you're gonna see that. So, ideally it doesn't really matter. It just depends on what you're looking for. So directionally, I guess it doesn't really matter. As long as you know where the main source of that light is coming from. And when we get to the shoot video you're gonna see all those details come to play as well. Yeah.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Practice PSD File - Sleeping Beauty
Pratik Naik Retouching Actions
The Royal Collection - Fine Art Actions
Practice PSD File - Location Shoot (~700mb)
Practice PSD File - In Studio Shoot (~1.3gb)

Ratings and Reviews


Great class and great instructors. Genuine and informative. Practical tips to create stunning images. Seeing them work through the process from shoot to finished image was great and I loved that they shared the thought processes behind the creative decisions. Definitely recommended!


Truly a remarkable duo. Bella is so down-to-earth and humble for a photographer with such a strong beautiful and ethereal voice. Her explanations of her process really inspired me--I was sketching concepts throughout the class. Pratik's process really opened my eyes to "smart" retouching--understanding what can be done in fewer brush strokes and slimmer PS files. All in all a really unique and inspiring class that makes me excited to realize my next conceptual shoot. They're also adorable together!

Mai Her

I've gained sooooo much from this I can't even contain my appreciation and excitement! So much inspiration and so much generous advice and tips to help me! Thank you so much Bella and Pratik and Creative Live!

Student Work