Given the opportunity I will always scout a location prior to a job. There is so much information to be had by checking out the location. By checking out the location of a shoot it allows me to take my time and think about the shoot. Who am I shooting? What is it for? Where and how will the photos will be used? Do I have a lot of space to work with? Is there good light? Is there interesting backgrounds or furnishings? What equipmnet will I need to bring to make the shoot work? Will I need lights? A ladder? A tripod? As I walk through and around the location I start to develop ideas and pre-plan my shots.
Last night I scouted for an upcoming wedding. It started with a meeting at Loft Seven Penthouse in downtown LA where the ceremony and reception will take place. Haley and Joaquin have a place in their heart for downtown LA and being in the middle of downtown LA will allow for unique wedding portraits. After we walked though the location we took a walk around the block to see what we could find and what would be interesting for portraits. There’s plenty of cool opportunities within the couple blocks of Loft Seven but I also have to keep in mind other factors.
As great as it is to have amazing and unique wedding portraits there’s a bit of a trade off. That trade off is usually time. As much as I’d like to spend hours creating interesting, fun and memorable portraits, this isn’t about me. There are so many factors to consider. In the case of Haley and Joaquin they will be seeing each other before the ceremony which allows me to shoot couple’s and bridal party portraits before the ceremony. This will allow them to get back to their reception as soon as possible. When we are talking about photographing a group of 14 people, each person has their own schedules and willingness to participate. Comfort and stress are huge considerations. Wedding days can be stressful enough and my job is to alleviate stressful situations. I can’t think of one wedding I have participated in that everything happened on time. Sh!t happens, people are late, there’s traffic, shoes break, people forget things, babysitters don’t show up etc…. My job is to go with the flow and make do with the time I get. As much as I’d like to walk two blocks to this great location I have to ask myself; If I was wearing a suit on a summer afternoon would I want to walk four blocks to get the shot? If I were wearing high heels or a brand new white wedding dress would I be willing to walk that far? How much can I ask of my wedding party?
Haley and Joaquin will be staying at the Biltmore Hotel a few blocks away. After I left the loft I drove to the hotel to look for more possible locations. Typically I will shoot bridal and groom’s portraits at the location they are getting ready at. Sometimes it’s mom’s front yard other times it’s a grand, historic hotel. I walked around the hotel and was excited at the history and grandeur. A perfect place for photos.
I could picture the group shot along this double staircase at the hotel…..but then there’s reality. I’ve shot in some high end hotels before. And even though I have been there to shoot the wedding, many upscale hotels in Los Angeles have their client’s privacy to think about and ask me to shoot with discretion and not disturb other guests. I decided I’d ask security about setting up a large group shot on these stairs. They basically said no and implied that the difference between being able to shoot on the stairs and not is about $50,000. Since the wedding and reception aren’t being held at the hotel I just happen to be shooting some of their guests and don’t have the same privileges of someone shooting a wedding that’s being held at the hotel. Sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission. We just might stop here as we walk out of the hotel. I came across these locations as well. Stairs are a photographer’s friend when shooting a group of 14.
Like I mentioned above, I get what I get. These are just ideas and locations that I can go to if the opportunity arises. Having this information is better than showing up day-of and trying to find interesting locations on the fly.
©Chuck Espinoza 310-571-5094