A Rambling About Pre-Shoot Location Scouting

I recently took at trip to Las Vegas with my wife some friends for a little R&R and we all had a great time. But like every other “vacation” I couldn’t just relax and enjoy the moment and the not working. I am a photographer so I just had to look around and try to see the strip with different eyes. And as always, my vacation turned into a pre-shoot location scout.

We have all either been to Vegas or at least have seen pictures of the strip at night with the literally millions of bulbs, neon tube and diodes creating the iconic spectacle that runs for miles. As I drove and walked around the downtown area I could picture in my mind a photograph from that angle in just about every direction I looked. And it made me wonder…

As always, my vacation turned into a pre-shoot location scout.

Is it possible to photograph a cliche’ed subject – like the Las Vegas Strip – that has been shot quite possibly billions of times and still make it look new and interesting? Because that is what I believe, we as photographers are supposed to do. That is the art of photography. It’s finding that location or subject and then looking at it with different eyes – finding that angle or perspective or lighting that makes it fresh and new and then create an intriguing and captivating photograph. Photographing something the same old way, like it has always been done is just a copy or a duplicate and is just not very interesting. It’s what my corporate and advertising clients pay me to do and like everything else, it takes continued practice to stay at the top of your game.

Now to be clear, I am talking specifically about photography – the act of capturing an image with a camera and a lens – not photo illustration, or Photoshop manipulation, Instagram filters or any other means of creating an image. I am talking about old school, get it right, in-camera photography. That is how I started as a photographer over 30+ years ago and that’s how I like to shoot today. Which brings me back to my question – Can a photographer take a tired and worn out subject and create a truly unique photo that makes the viewer look at it as if for the first time?

I took some sample shots for reference and made notes of time of day, weather and so on as I went – and made plans to return in a few months to make it all happen. I’m not sure if I will capture the image I’m looking for, and to be quite honest, I’m not sure if it is even possible – given the number of photos already taken of the strip. But I am going back and will give it my best shot. The one thing I am sure of, is that because of the pre-shoot scouting I have already done I will return with a few shots I am proud of.

And that is really the point. Take the time to pre-scout your locations, look at the subject with a different set of eyes and plan your shots accordingly. By doing your homework, you are almost guaranteed to capture something special. I can’t wait to see what I bring home.

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