Making ordinary locations Extraordinary

Photographers everywhere scout for gorgeous locations and are always on the hunt for the perfect spot for photoshoots.  But, the one perfect spot often doesn’t exist.  Or, if it does it may be overrun with other photographers, require expensive permits, or simply may not be feasible for you or your clients.


One secret of experienced and successful photographers is that any location can be used to make incredible photos if you know what to look for.  Here, xxx photographers tell you how they take ordinary locations and make them extraordinary.  For more of their tips, including pullbacks and videos check out Behind the Scenes 2:  Ordinary To Extraordinary 


Kyla Ewert:

There is a misconception that as photographers we always have magical locations.  Kyla has come to recognize that most of locations are really ordinary and some are downright terrible.   Light is the biggest component that changes your images, so always look for good light first and foremost. Then look for other ways to make your images interesting.

Play with framing your subjects, leading lines, textures, and moments between people. Ultimately, look to combine all these elements as you look for the light.   Always search for ways to change how a location can be used, whether that be an unexpected angle, multiple exposures, or the way your subjects are framed.  Practice a lot!  Kyla takes pictures of her kids nearly every day, and therefore has had to learn how to turn ordinary locations into something more than they are. Photography is a never ending learning process and the search for making something out of nothing can be fun.

Try new things, break the rules, and do your own thing.  For those who primarily shoot children, Kyla has more tips here


Elizabeth Blank:

The three most important factors in making an everyday location magical in photographs are light, composition and lens choice. Light is absolutely, without question, key. If you have the most ho-hum location and throw in a dash of gorgeous light, all of a sudden you have the most beautiful space just begging to be photographed. Light is everywhere; sometimes we just have to get creative and seek it out from unique places. In addition, composition and lens choice also play a huge factor in creating magical photographs. The photographer holds the power to create a unique, interesting image through composition.

The composition of an image can truly make or break the photograph.  Using composition in a creative way can really bolster otherwise boring locations. When considering the composition of a photograph, give a lot of consideration to lens choice. Do you want to create a beautiful portrait with creamy bokeh or a wide-angle image that shows the details of the entire scene? All of these components work together and can make ordinary locations truly extraordinary.

Meg Lokes:

When shooting in an ordinary location, light and composition are key to making a magical image but color theory plays another major role.  Try to arrange complimentary colors within images because they add an element of interest and atmosphere. Lastly, focus on details because they often are what transform an ordinary photograph into art. Details like reflections, subjects in the background, physical features like hair or freckles, and so forth are essential to making an extraordinary photograph in an ordinary location. The overall goal is to lead the viewer deeper into the frame by including little details.  For those interested in storytelling, Meg offers additional tips here.

Mae Burke

Light interacting with subject is key.

Does the light make the grass glitter? Is there a spotlight for your subject to dance in?  This leads to the question of how a location interacts with a subject? Does it add a sense of whimsy? Does it enhance how small children are? Does it make a subject’s personality seem larger than life?

Daily shooting while looking for these elements will requires you to ask these questions daily and allows this train of thought to become second nature during a session with a client. It is easier to see beautiful frames if you are looking for them daily and practice will help you develop an eye for getting in close, using only a snippet of a location to create a beautiful portrait. With practice, your eye will drawn to tiny corners and pockets of light in the most mundane of places.  For those who shoot families, May offers additional tips here 

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