Magic Monday: Location Authenticity

My personal evolution of location for photography has somewhat come full circle…

1.  I started out in photography just shooting things, people, and places that meant something to me.

2.  Somewhere along the road I jumped on the ‘Pro’ route and suddenly trendy locations became paramount. As did style. I felt absolutely compelled to fit in with the “cool photographers” and that meant that I shot countless families and seniors on the same downtown brick wall.  Not surprising that my images all looked the same with  only a change of face.

3.  With a courageous declaration, I took upon myself the challenge to never shoot in the same spot more than once!

That was a really incredible turning point for me in my photography.  I began to actually seek out something different every time I  photographed.  I saw value in places that were not “mecca’s” for photographers.  I learned to see color, pattern, textures, framing, and opportunities for light, because I was always searching.  My body of work had variety, and my experience was growing by shooting consistently in new places.

4.  I decided to turn back to how I started.  Authenticity.

Although fun locations can be “fun”, I realized that surface level aesthetics only carry an image–and a subjects connection to the image–so far.  The majority of my work now delights in the opportunity to use locations that have particular meaning to my subjects.  Not just some random cool place I find as a photographer, but an actual location that has memories, meaning, or significance to the subjects.

Something fantastic happens when we merge sentimentality into our work:

1.  The image is more authentic and true. 2.  The subject is more fully connected emotionally to the images.

Its the very reason why I love to photograph people in their homes, in places they interact, or have them choose their own location according to what is meaningful to them.

DISCLAIMER:  I still like fun random locations that are not connected to my subjects–and still “occasionally” shoot that way.  But when all is said and done– in ten years looking back, subjects will connect more with an environment that means more than a trend or pretty pattern.

I have been dying to photograph inside this amazing barn ever since my brother bought the old house on the lot to fix up.  Luckily, the perfect moment came when he found a cute girl, asked her to marry him, and they needed some engagement pictures 🙂  This location is the site of their new home and life together.  It means something.

On the porch of their future home before all the renovations…

In the orchard at our parents house where lots of time is spend on their farm.

I love shooting this way.

1.  It automatically creates awesome variety in my images and portfolio.

2.  It automatically means something to my subjects

3.  Its an environment they already feel comfortable in.

4.  It saves me time from having to come up with a location myself (which becomes consistently challenging when you have the goal to go somewhere different every single time.)

5.  Its timeless.  Sentimentality will always be timeless.

How do you choose your locations?

Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah.  Her personal favorite locations to spend time in, include her parents farm, her own back yard, biking through the dry farms of Cache Valley, and Grand Teton National Park.  Oh yes, and if she could visit any place in the entire world further from home with a sentimental heart?  Cavendish Beach on Prince Edward Island.  Take a picture of her at any of those locations and she will love it.  It means something.

Brooke teaches private photography lessons , online photography classes, as well as seasonal photography classes in Logan, Utah.

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8 Responses

  1. I’ve been wanting to take this challenge for a while since you first told me about it, but scaredy me hasn’t done it yet 🙂 GREAT shots of your bro & SIL. Are you gonna do their wedding even though you don’t do weddings??

  2. Very well said Brooke, as always. 🙂 Thanks for reminding me of why I liked this profession in the first place.

  3. I was sneaky and actually looked at all these already which is why I called you last night. I LOVE THEM! (Kinda cause I love the people in the picture, but kinda cause they are just great pictures). Ohhh. Especially one not seen here that may or not have involved some chicken bribery. Well done Brooke!

  4. Rhonda! My wedding gift is shooting everything (engagements, bridals, wedding)… coming out of retirement for one day to do something I typically hate–shooting weddings–Now that is LOVE! I’m expecting this to be different though where its my own family. Seriously doubt I could sit by and let someone else do it anyway! I’m actually really excited about it!

  5. From the start, I have tried to do this with my clients! I love capturing them in places that mean something to THEM!! So far they have all loved it also. Once I shot an extended family at their home and found an old wood shed with an exterior wood burning stove that was used to heat their home. When I first mentioned using the shed, they thought I was off my rocker! But as I explained that it was part of what kept them warm and cozy inside their home as they spent time together, they loved the idea!

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