On Location Photography: Alley Shoot


Shooting on location is just that: working outside the studio in a variety of environments. My studio can be a raging river, office cubicle, or urban street. I love working on location; I like the dynamic element that comes with being outside the studio. You can encounter howling winds, incessant rain, and (my favorite!) angry security guards. Granted, the guards are just doing their job and if you have a permit, you should be good to go.

Sometimes I consider my subject and decide what location would be best for her portrait. Other times, I see a great location and devise a shoot around it. Recently, I discovered a narrow brick alley in my town, and knew I’d found a sweet spot for photo shoots.


Step One

Fort Collins, CO.  woman in alley.Photographers are like rock climbers: once they’ve experienced their medium, they can never look at the world the same way. A rock climber doesn’t see a rock; instead, he sees edges, cracks, and features to use climbing the rock. A pho-tographer doesn’t see an alley; he sees leading lines, textures, colors, and backgrounds.

This alley was a fantastic location: It was narrow enough that a model could stretch across it; no outside sunlight could creep in and cause contrast problems on a sunny day; and the brick walls were perfect for adding texture and leading lines in the image. All I needed was an interesting subject to photograph. For that, I found Victoria, a local model with a great urban look. We decided on an outfit with bright red to offset the gritty dark tones of the alley. (Think woman in despair in the city.) 

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