25+ Ideas for portrait shoot locations: Get creative indoors and outdoors

Ideas for Portrait shoot locations

Let’s review my list of ideas for portrait shoot locations and see if we can’t get you inspired to go out and shoot. I live in the beautiful state of Texas where the weather is either hot or there is ice on the streets. Rarely do we have in-between, and when we do I take full advantage of it the beautiful weather.

When shooting portrait photography, I started a running list of locations so that I could be prepared for future shoots. This is an ongoing list so make sure to check back for more ideas.

Downtown Dallas Portrait Shoot location ideas

25+ ideas for portrait shoot locations (and counting)

When you’re just starting out, finding places to shoot can seem overwhelming. With that in mind, I created a quick list of places to keep in mind to keep it easy. Portraits tend to be close up so you don’t need elaborate locations unless you are shooting with wider angles or want to incorporate more of the scene.

Check out some ideas from below to help get you started. I keep this list on my phone and can always update it when I’m on the go.

  1. Start with your home or apartment
  2. Your own backyard
  3. Local park, lake or nature trail
  4. Botanical gardens (may not be free)
  5. Downtown streets in your city
  6. Local coffee shops
  7. Skating rinks
  8. Arcades and game rooms
  9. Local cafes or coffee shops
  10. Tennis courts or basketball courts
  11. Beach or sandy lakes (If you live near the beach)
  12. Local ice cream shops
  13. Local attractions such as a zoo
  14. College or universities
  15. Fair, carnivals or local festivals
  16. Travel outside the town or city to open fields
  17. Industrial or abandoned buildings (please be safe)
  18. Local attractions (Dallas have a butterfly center)
  19. Look for graffiti and murals
  20. Rooftops if you can find access
  21. Parking lots (especially multi-level structures)
  22. Rent a local photography studio
  23. AirBNB homes or apartments (featured image for this article is a local cottage rental. 
  24. Ask friends and family for home pools or cool homes
  25. Check social media and locations from your favorite photographers
  26. Ask local photographers for recommendations
  27. Take a day trip outside the city to explore
Consider building a home studio for ideas portrait shoot locations
My spare bedroom home portrait studio

Consider building a home studio

If the weather is a constant factor, you may want to consider starting or building a portable home studio. Pick a small corner or unused room in your home.

Lighting can always be setup and broken down when not in use. This way you always have a backup if the weather goes crazy and you can’t make it work outdoors. If you’re not ready for a full-time studio this is always a great flexible option.

It’s best to keep a running list of photoshoot locations

No matter what the weather is like, I always keep a running list of photoshoot locations that I can reference and locate quickly for my shoots. I use my phone to take quick pics of the locations and tag them on my iPhone.

Take pics of places with your phone and tag the location
Photo: from Pexels.com

This helps you get ideas and some of the best shoots I have are when I return to places I am very familiar with. I already know the lighting and best little spots to grab great shots.

Scouting locations

I will be writing more about this section, but overall I look for unique things in an area. Maybe large natural trees, or very prominent colors.

When I’m in downtown I look for creative architecture or sharp lines. The location can help bring more details and attention to your shots, so keep those eyes open.

Portrait photography studio lifestyle portraits
The Painted Lens Photography Studio in Dallas, TX

Consider local photography studios

A great place to consider as well is local photography studios. Many photographers will rent out studios by the hour or full-days to other photographers to help cover costs. Many studios will have equipment or areas setup for beautiful portrait shoots.

Ideas for Portrait shoot locations
Small AirBNB cottage in McKinney, TX

AirBNB Locations

A great option is also looking into AirBNB locations in your area. I have done this a few times, but I also messaged the host ahead of time and asked for permission. Many area very gracious and allowed me to shoot in the homes, but I did have some that said no up front. It’s better to ask up front and get permission as you don’t want to upset the host of any location.

Save locations on google maps

One of the best places to keep track of locations is google maps on your phone. Just drop a pin at a certain location and save it for later. This way you can always return when you have time to scout the location in more detail.

You can also take a quick picture while at the location and iPhones automatically geo tag the location of the photos.

Things to keep in mind

Many places like parks and lakes are public property, but some areas are private property. This is why it’s great to do your research ahead of time. You don’t want to get in trouble for being places you are not allowed.

Visit downtown for ideas portrait shoot locations
Visit downtown locations

Parking & fees

I live in the Dallas area and I know that parking is rarely free. It’s good to keep some spare change or a few bucks in your car to cover parking fees. This is also another reason to scout locations before hand and find the best places to park and walk.

Also, places like the botanical gardens require an entrance fee and have other rules you have to follow. Always do your research before showing up on site.

Carpool to locations

There are times it can be cheaper and easier to carpool or share rides to locations. If you and your model are close, it may be easier to share a ride to the shoot. I have done this will models that I work with on a regular basis. Saves time and money for everyone.

Just go out and shoot

The best advice I was ever given, was just to get out there and shoot. If it takes 10,000 hours to become a professional at the thing you’re learning, then it’s better to get started now versus later.

Conclusion

These ideas for portrait shoot locations are just the start. Every city is unique so go out and explore and scout locations that you normally would never go see. These can make for some amazing portraits and can help set your photos apart from the competition.

Author - Jason The Creative
My goal is not to be best portrait photographer. It’s to enjoy the journey and have some fun learning. Welcome to my photography blog on portraits, Sony gear and more.

If your interested, check out my portfolio at dallasportraits.com. I hope you learn something and leave being inspired to grab your camera and go out and shoot. Instagram.com/jasonthecreative


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