Advertising photography: How to find the perfect spot for your ad 

 July 2, 2015

By  Pascal Depuhl

Scouting for the perfect beach for an advertising photo shoot

OK, so you see there’s a lot of details that need to be addressed and for an inspirational advertisement, the location is paramount. So how do you find that perfect location? You scout (or you hire a location scout). I prefer to find my locations myself. Remember, you need to think about more details than just the mere beauty of a place: When is the sun going to rise? Where is it going to rise? When is high tide? How far is the actual shooting location from the place you’re staging food, drink, products, outfits, ect? Will your crew be able to find you at 4:30 am in pitch black darkness? Got all those questions answered? Perfect!

Running on the perfect beach: Advertising Photography

It’s invaluable to actually be on the location personally to answer these questions and get a feel for all these variables. You can join me on the scout via the live periscope video that I recorded while I scouted this perfect beach (please excuse the audio quality on these mobile videos – it’s less than perfect, I’m working on making that part of my mobile video’s better).[nextpage title=”Join me on this scout via periscope video …”]

Location apps that help you find the perfect place

[ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_2third_end]Click on the video, to get a glimpse of what a scout looks like. The apps I mention are Sunseeker and Cadrage. They help me get the sun position and times as well as an idea for the lens I need to use. The panorama on top is photographed with the panorama setting in the iPhone’s camera. The client will get these photos in my production book, along with contact info, permits, insurance certificates, directions, shot lists – the whole enchilada.
The more you plan before the shoot, the smother the production will go. Build a production book – that way everything is in one place. I have this on the outside pocket of my camera bag when I shoot.

Getting nitty gritty now, makes the photo production go smooth (if not perfect) later

Once you’ve found your perfect location, now it’s time to figure out who you need to get permission from to photograph your advertising production on this location. Sometimes it’s a city or county, the state or the national park service. It could a private owner or a combination of these. In this case it’s the city and a private trust, that runs the beach. They require an application including a description of what I’ll be photographing, before they allow me to shoot here. Your local film office can be of great help here. Make sure you also find out if there any requirements in addition to insurance? When do they open? How much more does it cost to open the location before sunrise? Is there another entity for the location, that needs to sign off on your proposed concepts?

Production book that makes your shoot run smooth, if not perfect!
Here’s the section of my production book that applies to this location.



Once the locations are picked, permits need to be pulled, insurance certificates secured, deposits paid and models, crew and equipment scheduled and weather starts getting watched. Read more about how this shoot got estimates on last weeks post: “How to estimate an advertising photo shoot” and click on the subscribe button on the top of this page to follow this blog, so you don’t miss how to scout the perfect location for an advertising photo shoot in next weeks post.

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Pascal Depuhl

Miami product photographer, video producer, cinematographer and chief mindchanger at Photography by Depuhl I love to share the knowledge I've gained over the past two decades. Catching light in motion.