Virtually Scout Your Shoot Locations to Save Time and Money

Virtually Scout Your Shoot Locations to Save Time and Money

Location scouting is just one more facet of the photographic process that takes time and money to carry out. It can get especially difficult if you are planning an out-of-town shoot. A lot of times this would mean arriving at the shoot location a day early. But there isn't always the time or budget to allow for that, as was the case for my shoot with Japanese metal band Boris last week. Lucky for me, Google came to my rescue.

I was recently given the opportunity to take a portrait of Boris, before their Cleveland show at The Grog Shop. The band normally don't take portraits, so I knew that for their shoot, more so than with other shoots, I needed to be quick and efficient. Cleveland is a 2.5 hour drive for me and I hadn't been to the venue in a very long time, so I needed to get a view of the location ahead of time, in order to create a plan of action and bring the right gear.

nick fancher band photographer boris

When I looked up the venue on Google, I saw the option to "see inside". I knew that while this wasn't a new feature, it had never occurred to me to use it for photo shoot scouting. I knew my time with the band would be brief. I also knew, by looking at the satellite view of the venue's surroundings, that there were not any good spots within a ten minute drive of the space, so we would likely have to shoot at the venue. I quickly navigated through the space to find a nice little corner to do the photo shoot. There was a nice red curtain, which would make a good backdrop, and it was out of the way out the stage, which was good since the other bands would be sound-checking.

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The day of the shoot came and we headed up to Cleveland. We arrived at the venue 10 minutes before our shoot time (not recommended). Even though I would normally prefer to have a good hour to prep for a portrait, we were prepared. We walked in the side door, straight to the spot we had picked out ahead of time. It looked exactly like it did online, save for some extra benches that needed to be moved. Within 10 minutes, our spot was cleared, lit and ready to go. We had Boris for a total of 11 minutes, which proved to be more than sufficient.

nick fancher band photographer boris

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Jerrit Pruyn's picture

Another thing I do when I travel I search the areas name on instagram with the hashtags. This gives me some good locations to check out if I am new to the area. It can be hit or miss. In banff canada it worked great.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Thats great man! Really refreshing to see you are using simple tools that everyone uses for other things to get the job done. Jerrit has a great option with searching the places through hashtags on IG. I actually use a less popular app that seems to be gaining ground is the Scout app. The idea to to share quick snapshots of your locations and then uploading them to the page with location and notes to each place. Really nice and it came in handy when I had a recent scouting trip to Phoenix in December and then when I got out in April for the shoot I was ready to go. Can't seem to find a link for it at the moment but will post up when I find it.

Its really upsettingas the app is REALLY helpful but for some reason hasnt picked up ground in the community like I hoped.

Great that you put this out here - I do the same thing. I was shooting a concert in Cambridge, MA a few weeks ago and couldn't make it down to scout out. Went onto Google in the same way you did and got to peak around and see the setup. Then went onto Flickr and other image sites to see what kinds of images others have posted from inside so I'd have a good idea on the available light and potential spots to shoot from (risers, steps, openings in walls). Was able to plan the whole thing out well - other than the guy that almost puked on my $10,000 rig...

steve bryson's picture

Last year a concept artist friend asked me to go with him to a small Spanish village to get local reference shots for a certain big game franchise. It was a three day trip, a free favour even though I was really broke at the time. I had to renew my passport so I rushed to get that sorted and paid money for that I didn't really have then I said to him, "Can't you get what you need from Google Street View?"

Trip cancelled.

It works superbly for virtual location scouting. Any UK based locations wanting it done can give us a shout here and we'll get you online asap...