I’m pretty sure we have all been in this situation, at least once: you’re hired for a shoot, and the location is far from aesthetically pleasing. Whether you’re shooting portraits, commercial work, or environmental photos, there are plenty of ways you can work around the fact that you’re in a not-so-interesting location.
1. Shoot From Interesting Angles
Take a moment to look at the scene, visualizing angles that will make your composition more interesting. Sometimes, shooting from a higher, or lower, angle than you would normally shoot will make all the difference in the world, and will also help take attention away from the aspects of the location that are not as interesting as others.
2. Focus Experiment with focus
If you are photographing people, try shooting with a wide aperture in order to blur out the location, and bring focus to your subject. If you are not photographing people, look for interesting details in the location, and focus in on the details, rather than the scope of the scene.
If you have a flash, or any type of studio light, a little bit of light can go a long way in upping the interest factor in your photos. Experiment with low and high key light, and also, similar to focus, look for interesting details in the location to accentuate with lighting.
4. Time of Day
A location may be uninteresting at one time of day, but at a different time of day, it may look completely different. Try shooting in the golden hour – either early in the morning, or late in the evening, to achieve golden, hazy light. Or, think about how the scene would look photographed at night, shot with a long exposure.
When in doubt, consult Lightroom and Photoshop! The danger in post-processing photos from an uninteresting location, however, is the tendency some people have to over-edit. This is a situation where you really, really need not over-edit, as it will appear as though you are over-compensating, thus drawing attention to the uninteresting location. Keep it simple – see how the image looks in black and white, or try your hand at (extremely minimal) HDR, in order to bring out more highlights and shadows.
These are just a few of the many possibilities for making a location appear more interesting. Do you have any tips or tricks you would like to share?