This Friday I have my first paid gig, shooting portraits for some family friends. I am going to take the photos around 5, in a local Arboretum. Are there any particular characteristics that I should look for in locations? Also, are there any other tips that I should know? I will be shooting with a Canon 50d and 18-55mm f/3.5 75-300mm f/4.0 and 50mm f/1.8 lenses.

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    If "Arboretum and 5pm" leads to evening sunshine through trees as part of the lighting be very aware of any dappling or partial shading from foliage. Variations in light levels from randomly filtered or shaded sunlight that appears quite minor to the eye can be very much more substantial and visible in photos. Sep 26 '13 at 12:42
  • Thanks, @RussellMcMahon. I was already aware of this, but it's always good to get a reminder. I appreciate it.
    – Evan Pak
    Sep 27 '13 at 21:34

It may be a bit late for this, but be sure to check whether the arboretum has any photo policies. I know that in two locations I looked into here, one prohibits commercial photography unless the photographer purchases a license. The other was fine with small groups, but they've got some guidelines about behavior and the size of your entourage (ex: stay on posted trails). Remember, these organizations exist for the enjoyment of lots of other people, too, and they'll manage activity accordingly.

Speaking of other people, you'll probably want to pay attention to other guests wandering through your backgrounds if you're not right next to a backdrop. If you've not already visited the location to scout out locations, it would be really beneficial to sneak in a trip ahead of time. Pay attention to walls, bridges, streams, arbors, etc. -- all of these can be interesting, provided they're in areas you're allowed to go.

  • Yes, this is all good advice. I've shot in two different arboretums and both the policy advice and scout advice are important.
    – dpollitt
    Oct 2 '13 at 19:02

Watch your lighting, if at all possible, try to conform to three point lighting with a key, fill and back light. If you have multiple strobes, use them. If you can find area's with white ceilings that aren't too too far up, great, use them to bounce the flashes. The biggest key with good portraits is going to be proper focal length, good background blur and proper lighting. (Also, positioning them well in front of whatever background will be key.)

  • They are going to an arboretum(collection of trees). Advice to shoot with a white ceiling isn't going to help much.
    – dpollitt
    Oct 2 '13 at 19:01
  • @dpollitt - probably true, but there could be things like gazebos around that could work well. Also, I may have forgotten what an arboretum was at the time.
    – AJ Henderson
    Oct 2 '13 at 19:29

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