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Starting to shoot on location? This month 3Objectives Photography Director Paul Downes shares his insider top tips on successful location photography.

Although 3Objectives is primarily a studio based photographic company, we do from time to time receive requests to shoot on location. Here in my latest blog I share tips for a successful location shoot.  

My first tip is to ensure that wherever you are requested to shoot, ensure to complete a reconnaissance of the location. If it is an external shoot always check the long range weather forecast. Also check with your client and with the local authority whether a licence is required to shoot at the location. If no licence is purchased and local authorities check your credentials a heavy fine could be applied.

If you have been hired to shoot inside check where the power points are, and whether you are allowed to run cables for your lights. Inside or out, you should be fully insured for public liability i.e. 3Objectives have a liability up to £1,000,000.  

The recce should be charged on top of your agreed photographic fee. I would normally charge half of the photographic hourly rate plus travel. Once you have gathered information from your location visit, start thinking of your shoot day equipment and your mode of transport to the shoot.  

When I have decided on this my thoughts turn to hiring my assistant, who is a vital cog in any location shoot.  Lee who works with me is my eyes, ears and extra pair of hands, ensuring I can do what I do best – shooting for the client. The last thing you need to be worrying about is the general public tripping over wires.

Once you have your assistant booked it is time to start thinking about equipment – I personally write a check list, which I tick off on departing to and from the location.

A collapsible sturdy trolley is a must and remember your bungies to keep your bags in place!  Pack your camera, lenses, lights carefully (I wrap these in bubble wrap), and take a spare camera body if possible. Other good spares include bulbs, fuses, cables, batteries etc. Carrying cases should be padded and strong enough to endure your mode of transportation. 

Once at the location, and you have set up your equipment, if it is an inside shoot always gaffer tape any loose wires to the floor. Check to see if there are any hazardous warning signs that could be of use, this shows a professional attitude towards taking health and safety seriously.  

When we pack, all my cables are coiled and tied off with masking tape. This saves time and the dreaded entanglement of wires.  

Lastly, my final tip for an external shoot, would be to pack a pair of fingerless gloves and woolly hat as there is nothing worse than freezing fingers trying to squeeze the shutter release. 

Final chargeable tips:
Transport cost for driving: 0.40p per mile
Train/Tube fares
Sustenance £10.00 per person
Any overnight stays
Reconnaissance of the location 

Paul Downes - 3Objectives Photography Director