How to Keep It Simple When Shooting On Location


Shooting on location requires a lot of logistical planning in order to make the shoot go as smooth as possible. A lot of Shutterstock Custom assignments will require you to go on location in order to complete a shoot. When you are shooting on location, being organized and minimal is key to having a successful shoot and staying on top of all the details. By streamlining the gear you bring, and minimizing any complex layers to on-location shooting, you’ll be able to be a lot more efficient and complete assignments with ease.

Here are our top tips on keeping it simple on location, so you can focus on doing what you love- shooting visual content.

1. Plan shots in advance

Start creating shot lists or mood boards before you get to the location. Scout the location online using a software like Google Maps to see what the area looks like, and where you can potentially shoot at that location. If you are shooting with models, have a go-to list of shots that flatter most and use those as a starting point when you’re on location to help the shoot flow smoothly.

2. Bring minimal gear

Less is definitely more when it comes to shooting on location, so have an “on-location kit” ready to go! On location shoots generally equal a lot of movement to get the variety you need, so our suggestion is to bring a small camera bag with one body and either one all-around high-quality zoom lens, or a kit with a few prime lenses that include both a wide angle and portrait lens. Some shoots require more, but understanding your expectations and what you need in advance will help you minimize the amount of excess you need to bring. 

Check out this blog post for some tips on the type of lenses you should use depending on what you are shooting. 

3. For Shutterstock Custom shoots, download the Brief Guidelines onto your phone

Or alternatively, print the guidelines. Having these as reference materials is a great starting point for your shoots. Make sure you have your brief guidelines and shot list handy, and use it as a checklist to ensure you capture everything you are required to obtain when on location so you don’t have to go back, or worse, re-shoot. 

4. Shoot in the right light

Know what time of day works best for both the location you are shooting at and the type of photographs you need to be submitting. Some of our favorite shoots have come from “golden hour” - one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset, but that doesn’t necessarily work for every location. Check out your location beforehand, or better yet- look at Instagram tags from that location for some inspiration! There’s nothing worse than coming on location ready to go, and the light is completely wrong for what you’re trying to achieve. 

5. Have fun with it

We are huge believers that if you make your shoot fun and enjoyable for not just your models, but also for yourself as the photographer or videographer- your photographs will naturally show that enjoyment. Bring some snacks, make an event out of it- and keep it light. 

Planning your shoot in advance and keeping the logistics simple allows you to focus on creating the images, with everything else falling into place as you shoot. Keeping it fun, focused, and organized will allow you to create stunning photographs for every Shutterstock Custom assignment and other client work that you create.

We’re constantly on the lookout for new contributors to join the
Shutterstock Custom Contributor Community!
Are you a photographer or videographer interested in working with us?
Apply to start creating stunning visuals for the world's top brands!

Stay creative!
- The Shutterstock Custom Contributor Community Team