What if I told you that you can find some interesting indoor locations and take photos for free? In this article, I will show you five remarkable indoor portrait locations that you can seek out for your winter shoots.
Winter time is a huge bummer for us portrait photographers. Harsh winds make us (and our models) question our sanity when we step outside for a photoshoot. Sure, we can rent studio space but this can be expensive. Also, let’s be honest, many studio spaces just look bland and uninspiring. Let’s see what else is available.
Editor’s note/disclaimer: The suggestions made in this article do not reflect the views of dPS and are solely the author’s recommendations and opinions. We suggest that you ALWAYS get permission when shooting at an indoor location that is private property (i.e. anywhere other than your subject’s home or yours). Please be aware of the laws in your area regarding photography in private locations, and follow them so you do not find yourself in trouble with the law.
Libraries are an excellent place to shoot portraits. Tall shelves of books and impressive architecture provide a variety of wonderful backgrounds.
Seek out public libraries and university libraries that are open to the public. I’ve taken portraits of model friends at the Boston Public Library, Boston College, and MIT.
Some libraries have strict policies about photography, so if you’re unsure just ask a staff member. In many places, “Can I take some photos of my friend in here?” is all it takes to get permission.
2. CONVENIENCE STORES
Convenience stores are one of the easiest places to get permission to shoot portraits. Just walk into the store and politely ask the cashier if you can take some photos of your friend inside. That’s how I got these photos:
When shooting in a convenience store, be aware that the aisles are typically narrow. I recommend bringing a wide-angle lens, such as a 35mm, to allow you to fully capture the setting.
3. UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS
Many universities have academic buildings that are open to the public, which makes them a good option to take photos indoors. Empty classrooms are a personal favorite.
I want to emphasize that it’s very important to have respect for the space and its owners. In most instances, the worst case scenario is pretty mild – being asked to leave. If you are asked to leave a property, simply leave without making a fuss. In my experience, it’s not common to get kicked out of places for simply taking photos.
If you’re nervous about confrontation, then ask for permission in advance. Trust me, if you’re polite and transparent, most people will be willing to accommodate your photography (given that you’re not doing it for commercial use or taking photos of their patrons or guests).
4. GROCERY STORES
Filled with colorful vegetables and bright lights, grocery stores are a goldmine for portrait photography. You can capture a wide variety of different scenes reminiscent of everyday life. Have your model interact with different items in the store and use them as props.
Plan to shoot at off-peak hours, such as the middle of a weekday, to avoid throngs of shoppers photo-bombing your pictures. The layout of different grocery stores can vary widely. Some have wide, spacious aisles while others are more densely packed and narrow. Be sure to bring the right lens to properly capture the environment.
It’s useful to scout out the location in advance if you can.
Laundromats are great places to put a different spin on your portraits. If you live in a city, chances are there are plenty of laundromats. If you don’t where to find any near you, start with a simple Google search. Look for self-service laundromats, since these usually don’t have any on-site staff.
It’s rare that laundromats are completely empty, so get used to shooting around other people. When you ignore the side-eyed glances from people drying their socks, then you can get photos like this:
Again, it’s important to be respectful of your environment and the people there who are just going about their business.
You don’t need to go to a public park or shoot in a studio to take great portraits. When you think outside the box, then the world can be your photography playground.
What’s are some of your favorite indoor portrait locations? Let me know in the comments section below.