Picking a Photography Location for your session

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I'm a Bay Area based Personal Branding and Family Photographer.
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Notice that I didn’t write, “the best” or “the right” location. There’s no one universal “right” location for picking a photography location for you photo session. Let’s start basic and talk about the Pros and Cons about indoor shoots versus outdoor shoots.

The Benefits of Picking an Indoor Photography location:

Indoor locations means that you’re not subject to nature’s change of plans for you. You can shoot in the rain and windy days without worry. A lot of people associate Indoor locations with photography studios. They can range from ones in the malls that produced glamorshots of yesteryear.

Or could be a blank canvas where a photographer and team of other professionals like stylists, designers, florists, and other creatives can build EXACTLY the kind of look and feel that they want for a client or themselves!

A lot of commercial photography is done this way because you are offered the most control over the environment and it’s a private and closed environment. The lighting can be as complex and as crazy or as simple as you want.

Most Branding Clients go this route. As they primarily work indoors, so this makes the most sense for them while talking about the type of work that they do.

The Downside of Picking an Indoor location:

There’s not quite as many scene changes you can readily make. You can’t walk down a street or road and have a scene change. They take a lot longer to set up and switch up.

Booking fees for locations can also vary depending on the location. More bells and whistles usually call for a higher fee. For example: a larger location, more equipment to use on site, etc.

Type of Indoor Locations

Photography Studios in the San Francisco Bay Area:

Here’s links to the shoots I’ve done at the Creative Space Studio!

Branding Session for Karlie Gurthie, MFT

Peerspace Rentals

Think of Peerspace Rentals as an Airbnb for photoshoot and other gatherings!

They have a list of other studio spaces, not seem above. In additional to a broader range of studio rentals, you are also able to rent a beautiful furnished homes, lounges, galleries, etc. for your own photoshoot, party, meeting, performance, pop-up event, and more!

These locations have a hourly rate rental, usually come designed and decorated so it’s ready to go for your photoshoot!

Creative solutions using your own network to find a location

While rentals are a great resource, I’ve had clients get creative in finding alternatives shooting locations!

These locations include:

  • their own home, office, or other workspace
  • homes of friends or family
  • homes that were listed on the market because they have a realtor friend

As business owners and women, we have such creative problem solving techniques when looking for solutions! I come with business insurance and would be happy to share it with anyone looking for some reassurances that their locations will be safe and secure!

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The Benefits of Picking an Outdoor Photography location:

Outdoor locations can have sweeping stunning views available. These are in many photos you’ve seen on other people’s walls, billboards, ads, etc over the years. It’s hard to top mother nature when she’s in her full force of beauty.

One of the most notable pros of an outdoor shooting location is that you typically don’t need any additional lighting equipment. The good ol’ sun provides natural lighting for everyone. I love the outdoors for family sessions because there’s a good deal of space for kids to run around, explore, play, and I find that these make for amazing family photos! By just letting the kids be kids outdoors and enjoying the sunshine, discovering the world.

If you stay in public locations, there’s no charge in “getting in” the space.

The Downsides of Picking an Outdoor Photography location:

The Instagram effect of locations can be that photographers seek them out, they get popular, so they can get crowded quickly. Especially when the light is lower in the sky and more dramatic. Photographers (like me) love that kind of stuff!

The other downside of crowds is that your session isn’t as private. Depending on the location and level of foot traffic, you could have an audience or just some people in the background.

Types of Outdoor Locations:

  • Parks
  • Gardens
  • Beaches
  • Grounds of Picturesque Public Buildings – think: Legion of Honor or the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco
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A side note about locations:

Sometimes, you’ll go a location and not find that it’s most picturesque.

I’ve had clients go to locations on the waterfront with huge buildings, parking lots, and not a whole lot of greenery going on. Please remember that your photographer picks locations because they see things that you might not see. Those large buildings could be providing shade, or shielding you from direct Bay breezes that can be quite strong. Photographers have developed a sense of how cameras sees things and what makes great photos. A lot of the time locations are simply background for the subject, which your own joy, happiness, fun, which makes up way more of the picture than the background.

It’s great to have ideal conditions where everything looks stunning, but we can make it work even if things aren’t 100% perfect!


The “Best” locations (to me) are places that make sense for what you’re doing, and add to the scene with visual interest. They compliment the subject, usually YOU, and isn’t taking away or distracting from it. You don’t have to overthink or over complicate picking a photography location(s). Just think about your goals and needs and it’s easier to narrow down from there! Let me know if you found this to be helpful and if you have any other questions for me!

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If you're looking for someone who will get you photos that you'll reach for again and again, you're in the right place. 

As your photographer, I'm working for you by understanding your brand, your style and approach to business, directing your body language, reading the light situation in the room, helping you pick a location, and editing your photos so you can look and feel your best! 

We work together telling your visual brand story with compelling photos for your website and other digital marketing. You'll get a variety of photos to kick start all your visuals as you grow and expand your business.

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