Why Sharing Locations is Okay

We've all done it. And after we've been rebuffed for the first time and we try it again, we do so with our teeth clenched and hope for the best, a little scared to open up a reply email.  

I'm talking about approaching another photographer and asking where a shoot took place. 

Location, location, location doesn't just apply to real estate. In the photography world, a location not only serves as a backdrop for your session but can set the whole tone of the resulting photographs. When I begin consulting with my clients, I always ask what look they want - industrial, urban, more earthy and nature-y (is there a better term than my made up one??) or even a beach theme.

These were taken by different photographers in the same area of Old Town Alexandria.


From time to time, photographers see another artist's work and may fall in love with the location. Maybe it has great textures. Don't get a photographer started on a brick wall painted in some amazing, bright color. It can be creatively stimulating to shoot somewhere new so you'd think we could just reach out to the photographer and find out the location, right?

You'd think.

You may be surprised to learn that many photographers will ignore these kind of questions. If they don't ignore them altogether, they try to be all clever - and vague. "Oh, it's this spot in Richmond." Well, that certainly narrows it down, doesn't it?

These photos were taken by three different photographers, in the same areas of Old Town Alexandria.

Photographers can be very territorial over their locations. I can understand the risk of a location becoming swarmed with photographers. On many weekends when I shoot at the Manassas Battlefields, I have passed by at least 6 photographers. While it's crowded, it's more than manageable. If they're in a spot I'd like to use, I wait my turn or shoot elsewhere until the spot is available. Other photographers are courteous to not be in my shot, and I return the favor. I have only ever had positive experiences with sharing a space with another photographer and their clients. 

My greatest argument for being willing to share the love when it comes to locations is that while two photographers may shoot at the same location, their results will never be the same

What I see and what another photographer sees may be completely different. We can use the exact same tree, the exact same bridge for example and find that we've composed the shots completely different. Our processing will be different. They'll think to shoot using some structural or natural detail in ways I never considered. When two people are handed a bag full of identical materials, very rarely (if ever) will the product they produce look exactly the same. There's no need to be threatened by another photographer. 

I try to live by one rule when it comes to working with other photographers and sharing my tips, tricks or the things I have learned. I don't stand to gain anything by keeping a location to myself, but I can gain so much more by building relationships with my peers and paying it forward.

Thank you to Vanessa Smith Photography, SASS Photography and Emily Alyssa for allowing me to share their photographs with you!