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Today, I want to share one of the first lessons I learned shortly after starting my photography business: When searching for a location for your photo shoot, DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Back in 2010, some of the awesome ladies from my Me Ra Koh Workshop decided to all get together out at Crystal Cove and have dinner and just catch up and talk about the things we had learned over the last few months.
One of the girls, Christina, contacted me a few weeks before the get together and asked if I would be willing to do a photo shoot with her family prior to the dinner on Saturday night. I’ll never forget when I got that email, because I seriously just felt so honored that she even thought to ask me! Anyway, to make things easy, we decided to just do the photo shoot at Crystal Cove.
So, Stephen and I drove out a few hours early and spent some time just scouting the area. We found all of these really cool spots, including a more secluded area of the beach with some awesome rocks, really cool stairs and a dilapidated, teal colored building with a rugged sign that read “Crystal Cove.” Needless to say, we were digging the location (minus the thousands of people there!)
As planned, we met up with Christina, her husband, and her 4 beautiful kids around 6pm. We headed to that more secluded area of the beach with the awesome rocks…and we started taking photos.
I had probably taken no more than 15-20 pictures, when a young guy rolled up in his white pickup truck. He explained that we’d been “flagged” and that we need to leave immediately. Apparently, ANYONE taking photos in Crystal Cove MUST have a permit to do so. My stomach literally dropped, and my anxiety immediately kicked in.
You see, I’m a planner. I like to know what’s going on and have at least some sense of control over a situation by planning it out. Needless to say, I freaked out a little bit. Which brings me to…
Lesson #1: Always have a backup plan…and this doesn’t just apply to situations or locations where you might have bad weather.
Stephen tried to talk to the security guy, who ended up calling his boss. His boss came down to talk with us and told my husband that if we didn’t leave they would have to confiscate all of our equipment and we would have to go to court in order to get it back. That didn’t sound appealing at all.
Now, at this point in my career, I’d done a few photo shoots at different beaches, seeing as I live in Southern California. I had never encountered any problems, so it never even crossed my mind to contact Crystal Cove and ask to get a permit to do the photo shoot!
Lesson #2: When shooting on location, always research the location first to make sure that photographing is allowed and, if necessary, obtain a permit.
We headed back to the parking lot, trying to figure out what to do next. Stephen is much better at thinking on his feet than I am and, with the help of one of the other girls, we came up with a backup plan…we would head to Heisler Park in Laguna Beach. Thank god for iPhones! We were able to research Heisler Park from the car on our way over 🙂 No permit needed!
By the time we arrived there, it was about 7:30pm, and we only had like 30 minutes of light left! I was still feeling pretty nervous as we started trying to find places that worked for photos. I just could not get over how crowded the beaches were. Christina’s husband wasn’t able to make it back because there was no parking to be found anywhere! So, he and Stephen ended up just driving around while I finished the shoot with Christina & the kids. At around 7:40pm, I finally found the perfect spot and just started shooting away.
Luckily, Christina and her family have asked us to do more photo shoots with them since, but I was still pretty embarrassed!
Save yourself the embarrassment and the headache and stress, and always research your location beforehand.
I also arrive at least 30 minutes before a shoot to scout out several options for photos…just in case 🙂