Sunday, May 10, 2015

Photography Tips: Finding & Shooting Unique Locations

Sometimes you can spots you never knew existed, like this log cabin in Mindee's set.

For years I've prided myself in shooting as many sets for Soles of Silk as I can in scenic, and many times, unique locations. Setting is important to me and I pride myself in finding all new interesting places to have my models pose.

I'd be fooling myself if I thought people visiting my site cared about the locations as much as the pretty feet, but the artist in me wants to add that extra little element. Being able to make each set a little bit different than the last makes a set even more memorable to me. I've never been one to shoot in a studio and I honestly am not a big fan of indoor sets. That's not a knock on any of the amazing photographers, producers, or sites out there that do those things. Not at all. It's just not my favorite.

Over the year's it's been nice to read everyone's feedback on my sets and the Soles of Silk models. While everyone doesn't always notice or even care about the settings I shoot, when they do, I get that extra little bit of satisfaction from it. Comments such as Ben Gold's from the Wu's Feet Links Foot Forum on Jamie's latest shoot, "...I do love the places where you do your shoots! Always very tranquil," make it all worth it.

The funny thing about the shoot Ben was commenting on is that it was a location I had used before in the past - in Aspen's debut set (above, right). Normally I am a huge stickler on reusing a location, even when it's two years later - as was with the case for Jamie's set (above, left). Since it was raining when I shot Jamie, I used that as an excuse to tell myself there would be enough of a difference between the two sets. I did insist that Jamie pose in the opposite direction, however, and to stay off the actual boardwalk itself. Aspen did some shots on the ground, so I told Jamie to stick to the bench. 

Now I'm fully aware that no one probably realized, or even would care about me reusing this bench and boardwalk setting for these two sets. It's just that artist in me coming out once again. Hell, I told even Kaycee she couldn't pose in a location I had in used back in 2005 several weeks ago! Yes, I can be that much of a stickler about it.

Anyhow, with the occasional praise of the locations I use comes questions about how I find them. I've always wanted to do a piece on the Soles of Silk Blog about this very topic, but since many of the questions come from Wu's Feet Links Forum users, I decided to tackle the subject here instead. Maybe I'll do a spin off blog on my own blog site talking about some of my favorite locations, but right now I'm going to focus on some of the things that are asked of me when it comes to location, location, location!

One of the towns Mileena and I used during an all day shoot in 2012.

How to Find Interesting Locations

The first question I am normally asked is, "How do you find such amazing locations?" Well, sometimes I know of an area because I've been there in the past, but my most valuable tool in recent years has been Google Earth.

Google Earth has been a godsend in that it allows me to comb over vast areas without actually having to go there myself. I'd still suggest taking a look at the location physically, but I won't lie, I don't always do that. Many times I just find a potential location on Google Earth, pick up my model, take a drive, and come back with some awesome photos. Other times things don't go as planned, but I'll give some more advice on how to avoid that in the Tips For Shooting in Public segment below.

A waterfall Aspen and I found on Google Earth after our initial falls didn't work out.

One thing I totally suggest doing when using Google Earth is turning on the photos on the layers tab. By doing this it allows you to see photos other people have taken in a particular location. This has allowed me to find places right under my nose, like the log cabin in Mindee's set at the top of this blog. That log cabin stands in a park I had been to countless times as a kid and a few times for photos over the years. Had I walked up and over a hill, I would have known of the cabin. Since I never had, Google Earth made me aware of its existence. 

Google Earth has also let me find places of interest that are off the beaten path - such as the waterfall used in Aspen's 2013 Wu's Feet Links feature model gallery, All American BeautyWithout getting into too much detail, Aspen and I kept striking out with some of the locations we originally picked for the set, including another waterfall. Once we struck out there, we found another waterfall about 20 minutes away on my Google Earth iPhone version of the app. That's when our luck finally changed. This waterfall turned out to be even more scenic than the one we had wanted to use. It was also much smaller and located a few hundred feet off a small road - one we would have never known about it if it wasn't for Google Earth.

Try to add some variation into your locations as well.

Tips for Shooting in Public

Now some people love this and some people hate it. I love it, but can easily see why others do not. For many, it's a comfort level with their fetish and feeling embarrassed by it. Since that is not the case for me, I tend not to care if people see me pointing a camera at a pretty pair of female feet. But even if you're not one to want to shoot in the vicinity of strangers, you can still find places to shoot where prying eyes won't be a problem.

Tip #1: This is an important one. Be sure your model is comfortable going wherever you're thinking about doing your set. Some of my own models have a "I don't care who sees me attitude," like Mindee. Others are a little more shy. Doing something where people will be seeing you might result in a model not being comfortable in the set, or even refusing to shoot. Respect your models and see what they think.

Tip #2: Be safe! If a place looks really interesting, but you run the risk of hurting yourself or the model in any way, it's not worth it. Emerald and I found an old mill we wanted to use a few years ago, but it was full of busted concrete, broken glass, and rusted shards of metal. She said she'd pose anyhow because it looked so cool, but I just didn't want to risk it. Use your best judgement when you shoot as well.

Tip #3: Be careful that you're on public property. Pulling out your camera and shooting photos at a place of business, someone's yard, etc. can result in a confrontation you might not wish to have, or even a run in with the police. 

I've had terrible luck with shooting on train tracks over the years, as they're technically owned by the railroads. Train tracks are the only location where I've had a confrontation with the police while I was trying to shoot a set with Kimmie. If that ever happens, just do what they say and move along. All this being said, I've still done some photos in places like sports stadiums, amusement parks, and museums where you're supposed to get permission. But yeah... Sometimes you just break the rules.

Tip #4: Shoot in spots not in your immediate area. The reason for this is that it limits the chance of running into someone you know that doesn't know about your photography habits. I shot Wendy in a park not that far from her house once and two of her friends just so happened to be out for a jog that morning. Oops!

Tip #5: When using Google Earth, if you see a ton of photos in a certain spot, count on people being there. It's common sense that if everyone's uploading photos to Google Earth of a certain place, then it's well visited.

Even more "daring" foot fetish photos can be done in public if you find a secluded area.

Tip #6: If you can, shoot when people are at work and school. The less people around the better. I make use of this all the time, especially when shooting at a popular spot or when doing something a little more risky. This is exactly what Emerald and I did in the banana smashing set above. 

Emerald and I shot early one Monday morning at a park neither of us had been to before. We saw that no one along the shore on one side of the lake, so we made our way there. We positioned ourselves so we'd be able to see people coming our way from the one direction, but had someone approached from the path directly behind Emerald, we wouldn't have had time to hide what we were doing. Emerald smashed the bananas under her pretty feet without incident, although she probably would have loved to have someone discover what we were doing, in all honesty. It was her idea to do this set in public!

Although scared of heights, Mindee posed on this old bridge that is no longer in use.

Tip #7: Find several locations not too far from one another. I like to do this whenever I can just in case a spot is not what I expected it to be, or I cannot shoot there for whatever reason. 

A few years ago, when Mindee and I originally planned on shooting her Job Search set, the train station I wanted to use was closed for repair. We ended up shooting at the old Paper Mill Bridge (above) as well as a second spot, about 10 minutes away, instead. We were able to do this because I had found several potential locations to use in the area ahead of time. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise since the Paper Mill Bridge location is one of the most scenic I've ever used. 

We were also able to find a better alternative for the train station for her Job Search set a few months later. And remember, if you find extra locations, or can't use one you did find for whatever reason, you can always try again later.

You can find plenty of secluded places to shoot in public.

Tip #8: Don't forget to look off the beaten path for locations. Not only will this help with you not having to worry about people being around, but you'll be surprised about what hidden gems are all around you - ones in areas you thought you were familiar with too. 

This is how Amelia and I found the train tunnel in her set above. A couple of photos showed this tunnel at the bottom of a steep hill in a park. Everyone in the park was cooking out and enjoying the near by river. Meanwhile, I was checking out Amelia's filthy feet and loving every minute of it.

Tip #9: Unless you have a certain theme or niche for your site, try to find different types of locations. If you're lucky enough to live in an area with some variation within a reasonable driving distance, make use of it! Shoot sets downtown, at the beach, on the waterfront, on a farm, etc. Creativity will also spark from those locations as well.

Tip #10: Make a day out of it! Who doesn't enjoy day trips and going on little excursions? If you're lucky enough to have a model who is game, suggest taking a day trip somewhere to make use of some locations a little further out of the way than you're used to using. I often ask the girls I shoot if they'd like to hit up the beach, go to another city/town, etc., to do some shoots and then just enjoy the day doing some sightseeing, shopping, and whatever else we get into. 

Mileena and I did this a few years ago when I asked her if she wanted to shoot at a large waterfall I used to visit as a kid in West Virginia. Since that location was a 4.5 hour long drive, I found five other interesting locations along the drive to break it up including: a small pond, an old rusted out train lift, a historic railroad station (above, top left), a bridge over a canal, and an additional waterfall (above, top right). The additional waterfall was used only because the one I had intended to use really didn't offer the best views of the falls from the areas Mileena was able to pose. Again, Google Earth came in handy. 

Another trip I did with Olivia was up to Cape May and Ocean City, NJ. I found a handful of great spots, about six of them. Sadly half of them were just too crowded to even use. So finding the extra locations came in handy here. The first location turned out okay, the lighthouse (above, bottom left). The second location was in a park right beside the lighthouse - a nature preserve that was just beautiful. We got some good photos there. The third was an old World War 2 fort on the beach. Posing next to it was very limited, so we stuck to some artistic poses instead. The fourth location was to be some breakers that featured some sunken concrete boats in the background. The beach was packed, so it didn't work out. Our final spot was on the beaches of Ocean City with a ruined pier in the background (above, bottom right). The photos on Google Earth showed more wreckage, but the pilings still looked neat.

A shot of Ryan at a small beach in the off season when no one was around.

Sites/Producers Who Make Great Use of Location

Being I'm one who loves finding these awesome locations, I've noticed a number of other sites and producers who also do the same. I'd like to make mention of a few of them here and give props to some of my peers whose combination of foot fetish work and artistic eye regularly get my approval.

Barefoot Urban Girls does some very public photography in beautiful locations.

Barefoot Urban Girls

I'll be honest, it was the model Red-X who got my attention at first. Once I noticed her, however, I began paying more and more attention to posts on the Wu's Feet Links Forum coming from the producer of Barefoot Urban Girls and its sister site, Barefoot Nudity. There are certainly some awesome urban settings going on here, but when you add the voyeuristic tone on top of it, the settings and shots grab you even more. This photographer has some balls, without a doubt! Some of the public displays are astounding.

California Beach Feet is the place to go for photos of barefoot women at the beach.

California Beach Feet

Who doesn't like the beach? I've done numerous day trips with some of my models to beaches here on the Atlantic, but California Beach Feet has been specializing in it across the country, on the Pacific for years! Whether it's shots in the sand, photos by the beach shops, or just some random girls stopped while on vacation, the beach settings found here just add a fun/casual vibe to each and every photo. Even the most casual of photos is made stronger by the setting, in my opinion. He certainly does find some amazing looking women too!

Toes In Action has always photographed models in some interesting locations.

Toes In Action

One thing I've loved since I first began checking out Toes In Action's work is the urban settings. Being from the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. region, I sometimes spend a few hours in those cities doing some shoots. The European architecture from Toes In Action, however, gives a much different look than anything I'm used to capturing here. Of course, the models on this site are great as well and are always captured in crisp, often times, very colorful shots!

Colleen posing under an old crane on the waterfront.

Final Thoughts

For those of you who wish to add a little bit extra to your foot fetish photography, I hope this blog entry has helped out in some way. Again, I know there are many people out there who could care less where a model is showing off her feet - just as long as she is showing off her feet. I get that. I also know that there are those people out there who appreciate the extra bonus an interesting setting or location can provide. If you're one of them, I'd love to hear from you and see some of the photos you've been able to do in locations you love. There are just as many scenic locations out there as there are pretty female feet. I just love combining the two things together in my own work as well as seeing it in others!

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