Tuesday, October 20, 2015


We’ve been doing portraits at this park for over 6 years now and never used this spot.  Why?  We were comfortable with “our location” (our usual spots), within the park, until one day we drove in for a scheduled session, to find the parking lot full; there was a soccer game going on for little tots. So, we had to park at the business complex across the street and walking into the park from a different end….As I was headed to our normal starting spot and my wife yelled “Jerry turn around!”…and this is what I discovered on the perimeter—outside the park. Damn!

f5.0 @1/250 sec., ISO 800, lens @ 120mm
This spot full-fills ALL my location criteria:
  1. Directional light from ONE side
  2. Gobo effect (subtracting light) by trees on left
  3. Great backlight from setting sun, also giving the kids some hair light.
  4. The cool split rail fence tying the scene together.

Goes to show ‘ya (me, that is!) that even a 25+year portrait veteran with a bunch of degrees and many awards can get too comfortable “doing the job”.

It’s easy for us to fall into this state since, as full time professional portrait photographers we must deliver stunning portraits of our clients on every session—failure is not an option!  Because of this we tend to use and reuse our favorite spots within each location.  (We have eight different locations on our list within, at most, a half-hour’s drive). So, after a few years, we run the risk of getting stale, of going into safe routine, and finally creating a portfolio where many of the portraits look the same.

Part of this is due to regional geography—especially here in Idaho, where we have less scenic diversity being land-locked. I really miss those beach sessions we did a couple times a week when we were in California….along with our kids, of course.  

I’m reminded about one of my teachers, a well known PPA Master, Craftsman, who told us he had been posing high school seniors inside the “V” shaped branches of a particular tree for over 20 years!  The portraits were great, but I made a note-to-self…avoid that rut and continue to scout for new locations!  And I do look for new locations…I just forgot to look for new spots within my usual locations! Lesson learned.

Here is another image at our newly discovered location.

 f4.5 @ 1/160 sec., ISO 400, Lens @ 200mm
For this high school senior portrait we pushed her down to the end of that same split rail fence.  In addition you can see behind her that there’s plenty of grass where we can do family portraits as well.

I’m going to have to go back out now and re-scout my old locations for different spots on the edges of those locations.

Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or ask a question…’Til next week…

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Certified, Master, Craftsman
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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