Chris Adval's picture

Tips on gaining and finding access to awesome locations?

I know there are services or even freelance scouters, sadly I do not have the cash to throw around for that, especially for personal projects.

I've read some articles on fstoppers such as from Kendra where a friend simply knocks a door of a mansion and they somehow get the access. Not sure if I can get 100% success rate while I go to door to door in a mansion city to get access to killer enviornments like that. Tips anyone have?

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7 Comments

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Just ask and explain what the project is about. If needed sign a small contract for permission to photograph your project on that location saying explicitly that the project is just for your portfolio (digital and in print) and photos are not for sale.

There are lots of people who don't mind allowing you to photograph at their place at all.

The other option is to photograph backgrounds separately. Again you can simply ask for a permission and tell them you just like to photograph background plates for a non commercial project of yours. You can use a contract too.

BTW the contract should not sound like the standard property release contracts. It should be a few sentences stating that you (your names) and the owner (their names) agree that you (the photographer) is allowed to take photos at their location on <date/time> and these photos will be used for photographer's portfolio and not for sale.

You can also offer them a free photo of their property if they need it.

Chris Adval's picture

So interaction introduction part of that, would you recommend door to door style in person, or if the location is a bit too far to just ask permission in person, simply use snail mail as a communication to introducing your idea?

I was thinking as well making a relationship with a real estate person or firm and offer them photos for access maybe? Not sure if anyone else thought of doing that and having any success/failure?

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

I usually ask the owners personally either face to face or over the phone or via email. People like to work and communicate with people, not with middle men or corporate identities.

That's why boutique craftsmen and their work are more valued than company brands and manufacture commodities.

Chris Adval's picture

just getting that phone number or email is the hard part unless its a referral from a friend/family or co-worker then yea I could do that as well but I think only option for me is face to face or if its far away snail mail right?

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

It's just communication. You can access them by a referring friend too. Nothing wrong or uncommon. It's just people relationships.

I've had times when big store owners allowed me to photograph on their locations free of charge. There were cases when small shop owners asked for a ridiculous amount of money. Nothing wrong with asking for payment (especially on a commercial shoot) but it has to be a fair price.

A strong portfolio also helps to gain permission (as they see a serious photographer) or they may ask for more money :) (as they see a serious photographer).

There's nothing magical about that. It's what free market is made from — people relationships.

Antonio Carrasco's picture

Sometimes camera angle and creative lighting can turn a boring location into something interesting and magical.

If you're just working with one or two people in the shoot sometimes it's best to just quietly shoot photos and usually people just assume you belong.

Antonio Carrasco's picture

This shot was on a rooftop parking lot at the Ralph's Grocery in Hollywood. I know it's not perfect but i shot it at noon under the broiling hot sun. I like the way it came out considering the situation