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A field guide to (location) scouting.

What does it take to become a skilled location scout for photo and video shoots?  As Metro Studios’ resident eagle location scout (and senior producer), I’ll be your guide as we explore the badges you can earn on the trek known as “Location Scouting”.

Wilderness Badge. Forget starting a fire with nothing but sticks – to earn a wilderness badge you’ll need a:

  • Full tank of gas
  • Camera
  • Notepad
  • Creativity

Recently, Metro set out to find three different backyard settings – an upscale backyard, a suburban backyard, and a yard overflowing with flowers (in May!). Sounds easy, right? Wrong! I spent hours looking for ideal locations.

Once I found an area that seemed it might work, I took photos from every possible angle, while taking notes of the environment.  From a small hosta farm to a distant relative’s backyard, we scouted it all!

To earn your wilderness badge, you need to determine answers to questions such as:

  • When does the sun light up the area? This is very important, as it dictates the time of day shooting needs to occur.
  • What size is the area? Camera equipment takes up a lot of space, so larger spaces than normal are required.
  • Will the location owner/manager be willing to let us use their property for the shoot? Will they be available at that time and date?
  • What are the environmental factors? Is there a dog nearby who loves to bark? A busy street around the corner?

Preparation Badge. As every good scout knows, you’ve got to “Be prepared.”

No location is ever 100% perfect, which is where the Preparation Badge comes into play.  A good scout can provide everything needed to “dress the set” completely. We’ve brought everything from our own grill, patio furniture, and plants to Christmas decorations in the middle of July!

If you’re headed into dangerous territory – find out if there’s any specific equipment required – like hard hats, hairnets, steel-toed boots, or life jackets.  Sometimes, there are things you’ll need to leave behind – like facial hair and nail polish!

Humor Badge. A good scout can smile and laugh along the trail. I’ve scouted a campground on a cloudy day without a compass; timidly confronted a neighbor who just wouldn’t stop using power tools during a shoot; and found a perfect location in a horse veterinarian’s barn, only to learn that sick horses don’t make for pleasant shooting conditions.

When you’re a location scout, you’ll earn your humor badge if you can throw your head back and have a good chuckle in the midst of a crazy adventure.

Congratulations! You’re well on your way to becoming a great location scout! And if earning badges doesn’t toast your marshmallows – give Metro Studios a call – we’d love to help you with your next project!

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