How to shoot in tricky locations

Oh my gosh, it smells like pee here!

Yip that literally came out of one of my bride’s mouths as I directed her into a vacant plot festooned with litter!

Why in gods name would I ask her to pose there?

Well it was day two of a very busy Hindu wedding and she was getting ready in her family home which was teeming with people. The house was chockas with family who were all directing her this way and that way, demanding her attention and taking pics over my shoulder with their cell phones. They all meant well, but I had to get her outside and away from all the humans for some portraits. There wasn’t time to drive to a fancy hotel or a pretty beach and most of the garden had been tented for a function. I had to make do with what was around and so I had to think a bit differently!

As wedding photographers we are often challenged with tricky shooting situations and not so pretty locations.
If you are a good problem solver and have a creative mind plus a good dollop of technical ability, chances are you will be able to turn these situations into creative possibilities.

It’s so easy to panic and get stuck in a thought process that says, “I can’t possibly make anything interesting here. It’s all a mess. I just can’t do this” The mind loves to amplify fear and when things look difficult and this fear mode might kick in which can spiral into panic. When you’re in a flap you’re so busy thinking about all the reason why you can’t that there isn’t much space for all the reason HOW you can.

If you battle with this the first step is to BREATHE!

  • And then stand back and really look at the situation.
  • Don’t look at all the problems. Look at the possibilities.
  • Look at the light. Look for compositions. Look for interesting shapes.
  • Look for things that can help you block the ugly bits out.
  • Look for blocks of colour.
  • What will happen if you change your point of view?
  • What will happen if you introduce flash?
  • What about using a different lens?
  • What about opening up your aperture?
  • What if you hold something up to the lens?
  • What about using lens compression?
  • What about exposing for the highlights?


Here’s another example of me being challenged by the surroundings!

If you would like to learn more about how to problem solve in tricky shooting circumstances. This is one of the many things that will be covered in my upcoming Unstuck Yourself Creative Photography workshops, which are happening in:

Jozi on the 5 + 6th June 2019 – Bookings close 30th May – Only 5 spots left!

Durban 26 + 27th June 2019 – Bookings close  25th May – Only 4 Spots left!

Click here for more information about my Unstuck Yourself Workshop.

I’m currently offering a “Friends Special” – where 2 friends booking will pay R8000 each for the two-day workshop as opposed to the R11.5K price.

Click here for  a bit more info about that.

1 Comment

  1. Kelly Harmsen on May 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    This is truly inspiring Jackie! Thanks for sharing.
    I hope I can join your next workshop. I can’t make this one unfortunately.

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