Previsualizing…a Behind-the-Scenes Look


At the last minute, JD and I decided to take a much needed vacation. We’re sneaking away for a few days before Christmas to relax, plan for 2013, and strategize for the first quarter. By a pool with a frosty beverage. Amen. I’m always excited to step away from the blog because I’m lucky to have amazing people like Katelyn James share insight into her business. I’ve blogged about Previsualization before, but I’m honored Katelyn is joining today with a behind-the-scenes look with how she goes about it.

Here’s more from Katelyn…

Ever heard the phrase “Making something outta’ Nothing”? Maybe the “outta” is the country coming out in me but you get the point. I feel like this phrase perfectly describes what I have to do when I’m searching for portrait locations before a wedding day. Some of the places I choose are weird, odd and downright ugly! But hey, if the LIGHT is good….. I’m going to shoot there and luckily, my clients trust me enough to let me do just that. One wedding I shot recently took place at a church in Downtown Hampton, VA. While Hampton is on the water and there are parts of town that used to be over-the-top gorgeous….it can be a little tricky to find GREAT portrait locations when you’re near the ghetto and are surrounded by heavily residential areas. There aren’t alleys or abandoned office buildings or fields filled with wheat…. and to be honest, I end up at these type of locations a lot!

The wedding in Hampton, VA was tricky to shoot, but I searched around the church and down the street for some locations before we started shooting. I wanted to be prepared and know exactly where to have the bridal party meet us after the first look! So here is what I look for when scouting locations:

1. Good light! If the couple is doing a First Look and it’s a super sunny day, I look for SHADED areas that are also well lit…. “Open Shade” if you will! 🙂

2. Areas that will match the THEME and overall FEEL of their wedding day! For this wedding, I knew the couple using birdhouses and pastels and so a yellow and white Victorian house seemed perfect! …. Luckily the owner was mowing his grass that morning and so I stopped and asked permission! After hearing the full history of his victorian treasure, we were finally granted permission to shoot there!

3. Accessibility. These locations need to be easy to access because before the ceremony, we’re normally on a time crunch. In Mandy and Josh’s case, we were racing the MASSIVE storm that was heading our way within the hour! So I knew that we needed to be able to get to these locations easily and quickly!

4. Private. The first look location always needs to be private. This is a big moment. I had originally picked and little path for Josh and Mandy so to share their First Look but when the time came, one of the neighbors was WEED WHACKING!!! I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to be yelling over the sound of a weed whacker when I saw my husband for the first time! Not romantic at ALL. Nothing kills the mood like the smell of gas and grass. So I made a fast decision to change locations.

So here are some iphone images that I took when I was scouting and they are all followed by the ACTUAL portraits that were shot that day! (iPhone images are underexposed…. don’t judge). I hear from photographers all the time who say they wish they had gorgeous locations to enhance their portraits. Hopefully this post will provide a bit of encouragement for those who feel like they are constantly lacking in the location department! Sometimes great locations can be found in the most unlikely places!! Enjoy!

It’s always an honor to have Katelyn guest post for me…ever since I photographed her wedding on 10.10.10, my heart is eternally soft for her kind soul.

Happy Tuesday!

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  1. Laura

    December 18th, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Love it!

  2. Jeremy Schmucker

    December 18th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Great post! Love the results!!!

  3. April K

    December 18th, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Love seeing the before (scouting) and after (actual wedding image), it really gives perspective on what you’re working with and what you can actually visualize and accomplish. I need to do this more in my work! Thanks for the inspira{shown} girls. xo

  4. Mark

    December 18th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    This post was amazing! Just the kick I needed this morning. I love the iPhone photos with the actual pictures! Thank you so much

  5. Lindsey McClennahan

    December 18th, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I love that you showed the before and after scouting shots! It’s so funny the comments you get sometimes, we are shooting WHERE?! ; ) Then I love when they trust you and head their little booties over there : )

  6. Nicole

    December 18th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Great post, your a wonderful photographer when you can make something out of "not much!"

  7. Linda B.

    December 18th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I am loving the before and after photos. It really is amazing what we as photographers can do with backgrounds that may look normal. These ‘after’ shots are just beautiful. I’m thinking that next time I go location scouting for a wedding I am going to look at actual houses too.

  8. ARI

    December 18th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Great advice.

  9. Michelle

    December 18th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    What an inspiration! Thank you Kaitlyn!

  10. Shanna

    December 18th, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Excellent!! I love the before and after- really illustrates how we can transforn a normal location into beautiful artwork.

  11. The New Diplomat's Wife

    December 18th, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Love this post and it was so helpful to see the iphone version on the pictures. I think sometimes we look around and first pass is so discouraging – it’s such a gift to see past "noise" and evaluate the location for what you can make of it based on your skills.

  12. Jakki

    December 18th, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    That last photo…LOVE…great useful information!

  13. Laura Pedrino

    December 18th, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    This is awesome! You have such a good eye 🙂

  14. Kristin

    December 18th, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Love this post, and the gorgeous images.

  15. Ashley Christine

    December 18th, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Excellent, helpful, & encouraging post! Thank you Katelyn!

  16. Darren

    December 18th, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Thank You. What an amazing post. Simple. To the Point. Hoenst. Eye Opening. Brilliant.

  17. Kate OBrien

    December 18th, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Great post! I love Katelyns work and its so awesome to see what she can do with different locations! Definitely inspiring

  18. Tristin Kroening

    December 18th, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Your blogs are always so well timed. I just had a dream last night about a location I wanted to photograph. The other person in the dream wouldn’t stop the car, so I stared at the location to memorize it in the dream. Now if I can just find this location for real.

  19. Kaley Gill

    December 18th, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Great post. You prove any location can be beautfiul with great light and of course your talent for taking pictures. Love your shots and your post.

  20. Monica Justesen Photography

    December 19th, 2012 at 3:58 am

    What an awesome post! Enjoy your vacation and see you in 2013!

  21. Abby Grace

    December 19th, 2012 at 5:56 am

    YAY! Josh & Mandy’s wedding will always be one of my favorites of yours- you absolutely nailed those portraits, girlfriend! So proud of you, Katelyn!

  22. jamie

    December 19th, 2012 at 7:47 am

    this shoot is so awesome Katelyn! I love how you can create such magic from your locations. thank you for sharing!

  23. Susan Evans

    December 19th, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    That’s impressive, Katelyn! You really did make something beautiful out of not so much. Jasmine, have a great vacation!

  24. Amanda

    December 19th, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Love this! Very encouraging to see you use a not so beautiful green building and turn it into a great backdrop!

  25. Nilka Gissell

    December 22nd, 2012 at 1:31 am

    You blew me away with the last shot! I loved that you showed the locations before the final execution. 🙂

  26. Maxine

    December 22nd, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    LOVED the before and after images!! Thank you for sharing Jasmine!

  27. Kimberly

    December 30th, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Gorgeous! The picture infront of the teal wall is breathtaking. I scout locations with my iPhone as well. It’s always fun to see the finished result 🙂