Top 8 Tips for Shooting on Location

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Shooting on location can be thrilling — getting up early, catching sunrise in some exotic place to make something amazing. If you work in a creative field, it’s what you live for. However, heaven can quickly turn to hell if you’re not prepared for the unpredictability of working in the wild. Here are my top 8 tips for shooting on location.

8) Pre-Production: Every location is different. If you have an opportunity, I always try to check out the scene ahead of time. Are you shooting inside? Where are the power outlets? What kind of lighting is there? Shooting outside? What time of day will you be shooting? Check out the natural light. Will you need permits? If you don’t have the chance to go in person, do some research on the area. I like to look up a location on Instagram and check out the shots from visitors and locals. This step is crucial for having the right gear.

7) Extra, extra: Once you make a list of all the equipment you’ll need and check it twice as you pack. Additionally, always have extra batteries, memory cards, camera body and lenses, locations in mind and even a complete backup plan just in case what you’ve planned falls through. Also, don’t forget to bring some snacks and water for yourself.

Sparkloft Pro Tip: Once you have a list of your gear, lay it all out on the floor and take a photo of everything. This way you have a visual list of what’s in your bag. It’s also good to have for insurance purposes.

6) Duct Tape: You never know when you're going to need it. And you know what they say, if you can’t duck it...

5) Lighting: Have a light plan. Whether that's having extra lights on-hand or utilizing the natural light, when you’re on location, you have to make sure you have a lighting plan.

4) Wardrobe. Have some different wardrobe options. Think about the natural color palette of your setting, what the story is about and whether or not you want to draw attention to your subject. If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend purchasing clothing from a thrift shop or asking colleagues to lend clothes from their closet. Don’t forget to bring clips to help with fit.

3) Make sure talent and crew are happy. Bring the proper tools to keep them fed, warm, dry, etc. There’s nothing worse than working with a grumpy team.

2) Shoot more than you need. Think you have the shot? Take one more. It's better to be safe than sorry.

1) Be open minded. If an opportunity presents itself for a better shot or idea, take it. Jump up on that car for a better view. Get down on the ground for an alternate perspective. And, if you have downtime, make sure to have a little fun.