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Unusual Photo Locations

Author: Libby - Printique by Adorama

by Diana de Rosa
Do you ever feel like if you see one more picturesque gazebo, wildflower field, or shady woodland grove you might scream? If you do enough photo sessions in a year (and you’re anything like me), you are pretty sick of the normal stuff by this point. So, why not seek out some more unusual locations? It might be hard to come up with anything at first, but when you really think about it, basically anywhere that isn’t a park or a beach is an unusual photo location. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Amusement Parks
This doesn’t seem to come up as much for other photographers I know, but I’ve done quite a few. Amusement parks make terrific locations, particularly at twilight when the lights on the rides come on! My experience is that the management usually doesn’t mind, as long as you let them know your plans in advance. That goes for pretty much anywhere you might want to photograph. If you call in advance and speak to someone in charge, you can usually come to some kind of agreement about when and where you can shoot, and if you need to pay for it!
This should go without saying, but never assume you can use someone else’s property for a photo location. I wouldn’t even mention it, but I’m always hearing about photographers showing up unannounced and just assuming they can take photos anywhere they like. How would you feel if someone wandered into your backyard and started taking pictures? Sure, maybe they aren’t hurting anything (although that is a risk), but it’s incredibly disrespectful. The proprietors of businesses and attractions feel the same way. Remember that when you’re scouting photo locations always, always, always ask first!
2. A Bowling Alley
Some bowling allies have party rooms with kinetic lighting system. I’ve had a few clients choose this and only one or two were actually bowlers. It’s not so much about what the place is as how it photographs. Aside from the interesting lighting, party rooms like this have the advantages of being private and fairly inexpensive. If you’re using it an off time and not utilizing any of their catering or other services, it doesn’t cost much. You could get the same look at a dance club during the day, but it might not be as cost effective. Still, anytime you see interesting lighting, it’s worth asking. The worst thing they can say is “no” or give you a price that’s just too high. So, go ahead and make the call.
3. Abandoned Sites
Sites that have been abandoned, such as hospitals, prisons, etcetera, can be amazing for lighting and texture. Juxtaposing gritty, grimy, crumbling architecture with fresh faced, beautifully dressed people is always striking. Once again, make sure you won’t get in trouble for trespassing. Also, be conscious of everyone’s safety. Decay can be beautiful, but is inherently dangerous. Don’t put anyone at risk by going somewhere you shouldn’t. There are plenty of places to achieve this kind of look without venturing into buildings that are in danger of collapsing. There are many places like this that are operated as historic sites, so you know they’re fairly safe. Some actually offer photo permits.
4. Small Museums
I’ve had some terrific experiences shooting at tiny, lesser known museums. I’ve used a couple of small art museums, lighthouses, a train museum, an old firehouse, a WWII era airplane museum, and even a museum of 19th century whaling as locations. The great thing about these types of places is that they don’t get photo requests every day, so I’ve found that they’re often more than happy to host a photo session, sometimes even at no charge!
Basically anywhere you find visually interesting can make a great photo location. Just always call and get permission in advance, be respectful, and put safety first. Other than that, go out there and get weird with it!
For more photography advice and tips, click HERE.