At FOTO, we are committed to helping our fellow creatives flourish. In our new Q&A style blog series, Coffee with Creatives, we are highlighting the unique expertise of some of our favorite professionals, sharing tips and information on relevant topics to bring you some practical insight and inspiration for the important work you do.
Today, we are uncovering tips on location scouting with professional PNW wedding and portrait photographer, Jenny Storment.
First things first, how do you take your coffee? And if you are not a coffee drinker, what is your beverage of choice to energize you?
Jenny: Truthfully I actually don’t like black coffee so my first go-to coffee type drink is an iced caramel macchiato with coconut milk, or a nice cup of rooibos tea (which is a red herbal tea from South Africa) is my favorite energizing drink!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your photography business?
Jenny: I have lived in the great state of Washington my whole life and I’m here for life for sure! I live in Tacoma, WA which is about 30 minutes south of Seattle. I live with my husband of 7 years, my daughter and our dog. I am one of those rare people who actually went to college for photography but more commercial based photography. After college I went 3 months living in Cape Town, South Africa working with commercial photographers, which was such a great learning experience! After coming back to WA I tried a few places to get my foot in the door with commercial work but it wasn’t meant to be. After helping a few former classmates with a few weddings and going through my own wedding I was hooked and ready to move away from commercial photography and strictly to weddings and portraiture. So in June of 2014 after having my daughter I went full-time as a photographer which was one of my goals after graduating from college. On average I do between 20-25 weddings a year.
You live in the Pacific Northwest where there are an abundant amount of breathtaking backdrops for shoots. How do you choose your locations?
Jenny: When choosing a location, it first comes down to whether or not my clients had a specific want on their backdrop. Then it depends on the light and what time of day the session is going to be. Sometimes a backdrop isn’t the best for golden hour or vice versa - it’s amazing at golden hour but its super popular. I always try to think outside the box with popular locations while not breaking the rules. For example, people love Mount Rainier during wildflower season, but the rule of the park is you can’t walk on the meadows (don’t be a meadow stomper). So, trying to find locations and places with your clients looking like they are in flowers can be tricky. This is where scouting can help and explaining to your clients that you may need to hike a bit to get to unmaintained areas to get the look they are wanting. And really communicating with my clients on the best light for a specific location.
How often do you scout new locations and what do you look for?
Jenny: I try to scout when I can, but sometimes it’s hard to scout new locations especially in the mountains because half the year an area is covered in snow. When I do scout, the first thing I look at is lighting and what time of day will be best for this location. Secondly, popularity: if it’s a popular place I try to see when it’s not as popular and finally, are there other options within a location? Sometimes a client wants a waterfall, but you can’t spend your entire time in front of a waterfall due to the traffic so if there are other locations nearby or other views then that is a plus.
What's the most surprising setting you've worked in?
Jenny: The most surprising is Wahclella Falls in the Columbia River Gorge area in Oregon State. I did a styled shoot there in 2016 and since then I have booked several jobs there. Unfortunately, due to a wildfire in August 2017, the area has been closed.
How does nature inspire your work?
Jenny: To capture the beauty of the PNW. We live in such a unique place in the world where the mountains meet the sea. I find that I don’t want to lose the green greens and the blue blues here in the PNW. It’s our natural pallet so keeping it true to the area around us is very important to me and inspires me.
Any other advice for fellow photographers who don't live in the PNW? What quick tips can you offer to help them find incredible backdrops, too?
Jenny: Do research on Instagram or Google searches. Also, ask around. Many photographers don’t share, but some do. I think scouting is important because one location can be viewed many different ways so going ahead of time can help you find the spots you want to shoot. And going at the same time as your session can be key so you know how your lighting will be. Also I find that if I can’t get to a location beforehand using an app like Sol or Sun Seeker can help me know when golden hour will be for a specific location.
And lastly, what Fotostrap(s) do you wear?
Looking for more inspiration from industry creatives? Check out these other Q&A's:
Coffee with Creatives: Tiffany Farley's Tips on Staying True to Your Craaft
Coffee with Creatives: Misty Rodda's Tips on Keeping a Fresh Perspective
Coffee with Creatives: Katie Lamb's Tips on Finding that "Mompreneur" Work/Life Balance
Coffee with Creatives: Caroline Jurgensen's Tips on Running a Business with her Spouse