Picture of the sea from a high vantage point

Styling 101: Finding a location for a Photoshoot

Welcome back to the Styling 101 series! In the first article we discussed developing a this is the second step and guide on how to location scout for a photoshoot. Step 1 was coming up with a clear concept for your shoot, finding a photographer, hair & makeup, models, making moodboards and finding outfits (if you haven’t read it yet, here’s the link). Today we’ll go over how to location scout for a photoshoot. The next and final step of the series will be what to do the day of the shoot.

Reflection of old bridge on a river

Step two is finding a location where you would like to shoot your concept. Looking for a location to shoot, whether for a styling or photography project, can be really tricky and time consuming. There is a lot of research that needs to be done before you can actually visit the location. To brainstorm locations it can be helpful to ask what is the story you are trying to get across? What kind of garments are you planning on shooting? What kind of character are you trying to convey? Then you need to think about in what kind of location your character would be.


In general, it’s good to have three locations in mind. For my shoot, I thought about Santa Cruz and two other beach locations in San Francisco. Before you go visit the locations, make sure that it’s actually possible to shoot there. You need to get in contact with the location’s manager and ask about which permits are required. Some permits can be quite pricey, so make sure you manage your budget.

Peninsula in the sea with blue sky and clouds

Once you know you can get a permit or permission for your chosen possible locations, you can visit the them. While there, be sure to take as many pictures as you can, preferably with a quality camera rather than with your mobile phone. Try to think like the photographer when you are location scouting. Take into consideration the lighting and where the model would stand, just like photographer would do. Since you’ve already found your photographer, take them with to your location, because they may see things you don’t.


Once you have decided on the location go there again and take some more detailed pictures. For my shoot I decided on Santa Cruz, which seemed like a good fit for the shoot I would be producing for 180 magazine. Go at the same time of day you actually want to have your shoot, because lighting makes a huge difference when it comes to mood. Think about exactly where you want to shoot. If it’s a brick wall, then take 10 pictures of that brick wall from all angles. Then when you get home, print out all the images of your location with all the different angles and start narrowing it down.

Alley with brightly colored pastel homes

Once you’ve limited your choices, start pairing your outfits with your pictures of the location. I went over how to find outfits in the first article of this series. Show these to your photographer, so that they can see what mood you are trying to convey and what equipment they will need. Shooting indoors or outdoors is completely different. When shooting indoors, you don’t have to worry about bathroom facilities, parking locations or if you can bring a clothing rack, because they will most likely have what you need. When you are shooting on a public or private street or at a beach, it’s very important that you go there prior to the day and find a bathroom for your crew and a place for snacks. You do not want hungry or fainting models.

Wooden staircase ascending steep cliff on the beach

Now that you’re almost finished location scouting, meet up with your photographer again and discuss the lighting you want. Another very important thing to do before the shoot is to check the weather. If it’s raining, be sure there’s somewhere covered you and your crew can stand and take cover. Lastly, make sure that you have your permit printed out and with you on the day of the shoot.


Be sure to come back next week to read about the step three of producing a photoshoot, which will be what to do on the day of your shoot.


By Isabelle Eder  , BFA Fashion Styling