Location, Location, Location
Location, Location, Location.
We deal, on a daily basis, with queries regarding suitable locations for photo and video shoots. A great location can widen the options for your photography briefs. It can enhance the subject; raise the mundane to the spectacular and cover a multitude of sins.
On the other end of the scale, an ill-thought out location can ruin any message you are trying to project in your photo shoot. It also decreases your photography options, could be potentially hazardous and could even get you in trouble with the law!
Many of our activities involve London as a location. We often recommend this, as it being the nation’s capital, can editorially keep the story in the national interest. Other cities in the UK could be less defined and have less recognisable landmarks. An overused, but very good, location in London for example would be Potters Fields Park. This place offers spectacular vistas of Tower Bridge in the background and is a perennial favourite amongst our clients.
Using an outsourced location company can take care of many of the issues faced with finding a location and give you peace of mind with insurances and safety issues, but will invariably dent your tight budgets. So don your location scout hat and weather proof jacket, charge up the camera and read on for tips in helping you choose that perfect location!
What’s the Story?
Choose a location that lends itself to the story you want to produce, this is the first rule of location scouting. When evaluating locations there are many options for example you could think about for example; natural areas, historic sites, distinctive buildings, urban landscapes and waterside settings. You should never be bound by your locations; they are simply part of the raw materials. However, some PR stunts do purposefully have a juxtaposing location with their subject material – it’s just worth considering it very carefully.
RA’s have become an administrative norm in recent years, they are used in addition to a public liability insurance document, which a venue should supply you with and your company must have in place to cover your staff. This should be a detailed breakdown of all the potential risks involved in your video or photographic activity and by making sure you are entirely familiar with the location, taking all the precautions you can away from harm when operating within the space. The key with these is to consider all of the risks and come up with a solution in the event of that happening. Common examples of things on photography Risk Assessments include; trip hazards like cables, what happens if a fire breaks out or if equipment or a photographer falls from an elevated position like a crane or ladder.
Time of Day
Morning, noon, night, dusk and sunset – be aware that during a 24 hour period locations can change. It’s wise to check your spot on the day of the week and the time of day that you’ll be photographing, so you can take such factors as public interference, light, traffic etc. into account.
Factories, office blocks, churches, ballrooms, restaurants, auditoriums and homes generally feature low amounts of available lighting. Check light levels by shooting a few frames, if you have a camera. In some cases you may wish to bring in portable lights and consider the effects of natural light interference. Large spaces need plenty of light if they are to be elevated to their fullest potential. You will also need to pay attention to whether a given spot is in full sun, partial sun or full shade. Bright sun can be harsh on people’s faces, and light-coloured surfaces can blow out and become less defined in full sunlight. Partial sun can be tricky as it can casts shadow. In reality, slightly dull days are more consistent with the light they offer and images can be brightened marginally in Photoshop later.
I Got The Power
Many outdoor locations are far away from power sources, so ask photographers to bring spare power packs if possible and if they are bringing additional lighting. If shooting interior locations please make sure you are aware of power points and that you have included this in your Risk Assessment.
Make sure that there’s adequate space for you to set up all of your gear. Small and cosy locations don’t allow for much headroom or natural light, so can come across as pokey, where as large vacuous spaces can feel emotionally cold. When you scout your locations, verify that you can physically get to the spots you intend to shoot from.
Be aware that you’ll need to secure permits and other legal permissions to shoot at certain locations. As you’re looking at a location, do a legal reality check. Every borough council will have a filming and videography department, which can easily be found on government websites. It’s better to get permission in advance than to have a shoot interrupted by the authorities. ALWAYS allow plenty of time to get your permissions in and most importantly if you are hiring a venue, ensure they offer public liability and a Risk Assessment. Public relations experts often love guerrilla stunts, but these quite often have to be planned and executed in an organised fashion and if they are not, it can become a logistical nightmare.
Evaluate The Area.
Check your Wi-Fi works, are there local shops for food and supplies, is there adequate parking, where should we rally in the event of fire, what are the local transport links, a runner in your team should have notes on all of this.
And finally…..take notes.
When doing a recce it is always important to take notes and some pictures. Even rudimentary camera phone pictures can embellish a photography brief and save time on a shoot day. You may have more questions, so write those down when they come to mind and ask either the photographers or various planning offices.
If in doubt someone from the TNR Photography or Video Team can give you some solid advice on location ideas…
Craig Gunn, Photography Manager, TNR