The Power of Place in Photography


Place in photography is everything to the photographer, as it helps him capture and investigate various concepts such as culture and identity, traditions, and environmental challenges. But also, place plays a more significant role in the photograph’s appearance and can give you a bad day at the office if not controlled.

Although place can add to the uniqueness and aesthetics of the photo when all the elements are appropriately managed and controlled to give you a stunning effect, there will be times when the place conditions are not just favorable. This is why it is essential that you also understand the techniques needed to take stunning photographs in harsh conditions of the place, such as a very sunny day with intense sunlight and strong winds.

In this article, we discover the place, impact, and role of place in photography. Join us.

How Place Impacts Photography

An essential aspect of photography is the ability of the photographer to make the viewers interact with the surroundings as though they were in it and feel the mood of the photo. Their senses should tingle when they see the picture, and this can be achieved mainly with the help of a good location in taking a photograph.

Usually, the things that make our senses tingle are the things that can give a sense of atmosphere to a photograph and immensely affect the mood of the viewers. Examples include the rich earthy scent of an old-growth forest, the vibrant colors reflecting on a wet street after the rain, or even how the light illuminates the smoke rising from the nearby vendor stall. All these can impact the mood and atmosphere of a photograph.

The ability of a photo to evoke emotion in its viewers depends mainly on the photographer’s power to communicate ideas and feelings through the image, utilizing the location and other elements of photography. A great photographer should be able to tell a story through his work to move his audience so that they are left with the feeling or emotion portrayed in the photo. Various landscapes and locations tell different stories and evoke other emotions in their viewers.

An example of a good use of location is Stanley Forman’s photo of a woman and her child falling from a fire escape. Although the image raised ethical concerns about him filming a disturbing moment, it won him a Pulitzer Prize for his excellent use of place in evoking emotions in its viewers.

Finding the Perfect Location

The location of a photo shoot determines a lot of other things, including the lighting and props to take, the clothes to use, and the most suitable poses to adopt. Therefore, choosing a suitable location might be the first thing you want to get right if you want to shoot a stunning photo. Discover tips for taking portraits in any lighting below: 

  • Choose a Meaningful Place

Choosing a suitable site is essential to capture the uniqueness of your subject’s personality that makes them so special. Take some time to get to know your subject and find out their likes, hobbies, favorite places, and so on to incorporate them into your photo.

This will help give you a more meaningful photo that’s more personal to your subject, making them feel relaxed, too, thus leading to a more natural-looking image. For instance, if your subject is a singer, choosing a location incorporating various musical instruments or even a studio will be best.

  • Use Natural Lighting

Shooting in natural lighting will offer you a well-lit environment that adds to the aesthetics of your photo. However, avoid direct light, which can cast unwanted shadows and adversely affect your photo shoot. Shooting in the early morning or over a covered open space can offer softer and more diffused lighting for better picture quality.

If you decide to shoot indoors, take your model to a large window, to allow sufficient lighting. Alternatively, you can use props and artificial lighting to improve the lighting if you have an adequate budget.

  • Make Provision for Shelter 

You don’t want rain or bad weather conditions to ruin your photo shoot. Therefore, you must set up your shoot anticipating a possible weather issue and prepare for such. Choosing a location close to a shelter, such as a café, can help keep your equipment and subject dry and prevent unwanted damage. Other tips include choosing somewhere quiet, avoiding distractions, etc.

Finding the perfect location can often be daunting and demanding for most photographers. It requires plenty of research and planning to find that special spot that can be used to convey the emotions and atmosphere you need in your photo. There are a few ways that you can use to plan your shoot these days so that you already have a picture of what you are aiming to achieve even before you begin. A few methods can be employed, including Google Maps, books, postcards, social media, etc.

The following locations would make a good location for a more excellent photoshoot.

  • Graffiti walls
  • Parking lots
  • Abandoned buildings
  • Stairwells
  • Industrial complexes, etc.

Using a Place to Tell a Story

Photographers often aim to tell a story, evoke an emotion, or convey a mood through images. However, many focus on the subject when telling a story in their shoot. But a good photographer also uses the location to create visually compelling stories that appeal to the eyes of the viewer and help capture those memorable moments in one picture. Consider the following if you want to use your location to keep your viewers captivated by your photo:

  • Be intentional about your aperture setting
  • Use strong compositional tools like the rule of thirds, framing, and leading lines
  • Highlight symmetry with occasional use of center composition, etc.

Furthermore, photographers often need help conveying the message they’re trying to in their photographs, and if properly executed, the viewer can end up giving the wrong meaning to the image. A good photo location adds to the photo’s aesthetics and provides meaning and context.

Post-Processing and Power of Place

A great photograph does not end when the shot is taken. A good photographer adds some extra touches to the photo and makes it more exciting. Post-processing enhances the power of place in a photo by improving the scene’s appearance, mood, and realism by adding effects such as filters, color correction, motion blur, etc.

Enhancing the mood and atmosphere in your photo with post-processing requires a great deal of skill and mastery on the part of the photographer. Some techniques that can be employed in post-processing to enhance the mood and atmosphere in your picture include:

  • Choose a color scheme
  • Adjust exposure and contrast
  • Crop and compose
  • Add or remove details
  • Experiment with styles
  • Be intentional and consistent, etc.


On-location shooting decisions can have a significant impact on the final images. The photographs’ look, feel, and success depends on choices, including the lenses and lighting used. The outcome of a picture can also be significantly influenced by the location of the shoot, determining the mood, atmosphere, and context of the photograph, as well as telling a story as intended by the photographer.

It is essential therefore, that the photographer leverages this, and keeps developing the skill in himself to leverage the power of place to create stunning photographs.