Helpful Photography Location Scouting Tips

Let's go on a location scout for my music video. The needs for photographers and directors can be similar, and how you approach the location scouting can really help you have a smooth production.

Are All Locations the Same?

The short answer is no. It should also be said that very few locations will check off every box on your list. It's your job to speak with the people closest to you on the job and find a solution that will best serve your production. There is a fix to nearly every solution, and the puzzle is different each time. 

While many locations can look similar, a few differences can make all the difference in the world. Here are eight things you should inquire about for every rental. In the video, I go into greater detail about location scouting. I hope it helps in your career.

  1. Is your date available? Seems common sense enough, but many people will ask all of the other questions first and then ask about the availability. If they don't have your date, politely move on.
  2. Bathrooms are important but not always accessible. If you're renting an old warehouse, make sure the bathrooms are updated and fully functioning. I've been on many sets where they had to bring portable bathrooms because the house units were unusable. 
  3. See if they offer parking and how many spots are designated for you. You may have to rent a parking lot from a local church or restaurant. If the neighborhood is unsafe, you could leave multiple cars at risk for break-ins. 
  4. Noise is a big deal if you're recording audio. If you need audio, ask for a studio that can handle that type of production. 
  5. Access to equipment is important. Sometimes, they'll provide a few items for grip (C-stands), and other times, they'll have a full rental list. Studios that provide you rental options can be money-savers because they can be one-stop shops.
  6. Insurance is a requirement for many studios/locations. See if they require one from you. You'll need to provide an individual certificate insuring them for the days you plan on filming/photographing there. It's more common for filming, but sometimes, photography studios require insurance too.
  7. You'd be surprised how often you'll need to rig some lights to the beams on the ceiling. Ask if they provide a scissor-lift as the most ideal option. If not, ask if they have stable ladders you can use.
  8. Glam rooms are common, but not all of them are the same. See if the glam room is on its own circuit because the blow-dryer should not be on the same circuit as the lights on set. Your glam studio should have daylight-balanced bulbs to mimic daylight.

It's important to bring your key people with you on the scout. For example, a producer will look for components that may not cross the photographer's mind. Your lighting assistant or DP will ask questions you may forget to ask. Location scouts are often with 3-4 people, and they last about 30 minutes total. 

Walid Azami's picture

Walid Azami is a Photographer/Director and creative consultant from Los Angeles. He got his start working with Madonna + Co by contributing to her many projects. It was then he realized his place in the creative world & began teaching himself photography. He has since shot Kanye, Mariah Carey, Usher, Bernie Sanders, JLO, amongst others

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