From the course: Portrait Photography: Sports Portraits on LinkedIn Learning

Finding the best location from Portrait Photography: Sports Portraits by Robert Vanelli

Course transcript

Now it’s extremely important to find the best location to shoot in—and you have to feel comfortable in that location. Personally, one of my favorite locations is a huge gymnasium. That’s where I can set my lights up in the background, I can have people moving around, and we have so much room in there, I’m not worried about them interfering with my shot. I don’t have to worry about the weather. I don’t have to worry about people walking in and out of my shots itself. That’s great. One time, I didn’t have access to that gymnasium, so what they asked me to do was to go outside under an awning.

Now I just got a brand new background system, and I loved it. I set it up all excited, and I forgot to put a sandbag on it—not thinking that the little tunnel was going to turn into a wind tunnel—when a huge gust of wind came in and that thing took off and flew down the alleyway and it broke. So, I had to use a little creativity there and said “Oh, you know what, I really like to tack this up along the wall” and, thank God, they helped me to do that. But that’s a perfect example of me not choosing the best location for that particular shoot.

Another location I was shooting in was actually a racquetball area, and I really liked that because the walls themselves were all white and so was the back wall—so instead of having to set up my backgrounds, I was able to use the walls themselves as my background, and that helped me not to have to set up extra equipment. Another location that they kind of put me in that I really wasn’t too fond of was a really, really small area and I had maybe two or three feet from the subject to shoot.

Those images looked terrible. I just couldn’t do it. I turned to the coach and said “Coach, let’s reschedule this shoot. The location is not what it should be.” That’s my fault: I should’ve gone to do a location scout, looked at it, and—the moment I saw the location was bad—I could’ve changed it and literally just moved into the next hallway, or into another spot of the school that I was at.

We’re shooting at a park today because it was convenient for the coaches and for the players—and I really like this location because there’s a pavilion in the background. What that’s going to do for us is, in case it rains, we’re able to be protected underneath that pavilion and I don’t have to worry about getting my gear wet, or ruining my gear, or trashing the shoot today because of the weather. Now the team is going be arriving soon, so let’s get going.

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