How to choose your photo shoot location - Amanda Kraft Photography

Choosing a location for your photo shoot can often be more complicated than selecting your wardrobe, but leaving your location to chance isn’t something you should do. As a photographer, locations can dramatically impact the overall look and feel of the photos and if not chosen correctly - the photos might not make sense.

What do I mean?

It’s so easy to scroll through Instagram or Pinterest to fall in love with a photo because of the location (or styling), even if it’s not your style. Choosing an urban location when you’d much rather be in a park or open field doesn’t make much sense. Nor does wearing a ton of florals, flower crowns, and walking barefoot in an urban location.

Years ago, a bride share her vision board filled with beautiful photographs from beach weddings, the only problem… she was getting married at a Victorian Mansion.

This doesn’t mean you can’t mix locations - especially if you are a high school senior - I recommend mixing locations because your style is often a bit more eclectic. But, if you are selecting a location for your brand or business portraits - think about where you spend the most amount of time; are you a digital nomad who hangs out at coffee shops or do you work from a co-op space or studio?

Timing is everything!

Timing is one of the most crucial parts of location planning and selection. Popular locations are prone to bigger crowds on weekends or require permits that might determine when portraits can or can’t be taken. Many of my personal favorite locations are off the beaten path that you might drive by often but never take notice to.

Also, don’t forget to run through your rolodex because you might be shocked at the incredible private or limited access locations you can use if you simply ask your friends & family.

  • Park Locations: Typically are best during the golden hour of the day (close to sunset) for high school senior portraits, family portraits, or maternity portraits.

  • Urban Locations: Might have to work around popular high traffic times. Specifically in Lancaster, you’ll want to avoid the Central Market area during market days - Tue, Fri, Sat

  • Natural Light Studios: Are often perfect for a clean, crisp headshot, boudoir, glamour, maternity or boudoir portraits.

  • Personal Space or Studio: Look around your space to notice what time the sun light floods your space and plan your photo shoot around that time.

Two different maternity portrait photo shoots - one on-location vs. in-studio

Photos from Val and Mak’s Maternity Photo Shoot: I’ve known Val for years and knew soft whimsical styling and floral locations would suit her style and personality best. We chose to use the Hershey Gardens for her maternity portraits - sadly, we were a week to soon as most of the trees and flowers had not bloomed. We found one in-bloom magnolia tree and worked with what we had paired with a bit backlighting.


In contrast to Val and Mak’s Maternity Portraits - I used the studio for Jackie and Jackson’s maternity portraits. The studio provided a blank canvas with no need to worry about backgrounds or styling due to a specific location. I loved using the crisp white walls and beautifully lighting that flooded in the space with Jackie’s white dress and Jackson opting for bare skin.


Using urban locations for high school senior portraits:

This location was selected simply based off the dress that Catherine wore. I wanted to create a more monochromatic look that would bring your attention to her eyes and expression rather than be lost or distracted by the location or background. This particular background is on the backside of a popular cafe in Downtown Lancaster.


A prime example of using your Roledex to find the perfect location.

Initially we planned to photograph this retro themed photo shoot on the beach, but the weather was too questionable and at 6am I sprung up out of bed as I remembered that my model’s grandparents had a pool. The pool was perfect for the photo shoot, kept us from making a two-hour drive to a nearby beach, and we even beat a thunderstorm that rolled in just as we finished the shoot.


In closing, my best advice is to make sure that your location makes sense to you, your personality, and your style. If you are struggling with how to pair your wardrobe with your location or which props to consider including, I’ve created a pdf guide that eliminates the overwhelm and you can access the guide HERE.