How do I ask permission to use a location?

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by hana_mohalo, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. I'm an aspiring fashion photographer, I have the 'student card' to pull (my mom says always tell them you are a student they'll want to help you out?) and obviously I don't have any money compensation. How can I properly ask for use of a location or be allowed to shoot somewhere?
    Specifically for my next project: my model and I have a list of hotels we'd like to work in a room and maybe in the lobby. But we can't afford the 400$ a night or anything. The studio is in the city so it has to be over the phone and the receptionist told me to call back later when the head of human resources was going to be there! I know maybe we won't get any permissions for free but I won't know until I try!! At least this one hotel from my first college would let students use their public space for shoots! (No where near there now). It's a small shoot: 3 people. I don't have large equipment, I'm pretty unobtrusive (should I mention that?)
    And for future reference, what about if I have a store, cafe, ect in mind? Has any bold daring photography asked permission from any home owner even? (OMG there are AMAZING houses near me - haunted mansions, garden cottages... it is my dream come true to shoot there)
    Thank you *.*
  2. You'll be suprised how many people will say yes if you ask simply and respectfully. Have answers ready for their most common questions. Act professional.
    The biggest reason I would not allow someone to shoot on my property is liability. In the unlikely event someone got hurt, by a falling piece of equipment or loose cord, who's going to pay?
    If you have personal liability insurance, be sure to have the certificate and mention it to prospective site owner/managers.
    Working in a hotel room, for model shots, generally requires that you rent the room at normal rates. The hotel gets nothing from such a shoot and might lose the revenue from the room otherwise. Lobby stuff is going to be a challenge because of crowd control, unless you do it like Hollywood and shoot in the early hours of the morning when no body is around.
  3. For a cafe or restuarant, go in during an off-time (between lunch and dinner is best) and ask to talk to a manager. Your best bet would be to look for one that has a time when they aren't open half or all of one day a week. Like not open Saturday lunch or something. I've managed small upscale restaurants, and if you were a student I might let you come in for free during a time I wasn't open. Maybe offer to give them a few prints of the work when you're done.
    I'd say with any place, have a portfolio of work to show, explain your purpose, and hope for the best.
  4. I agree with the earlier posts. You go far by asking nicely and repecting their rules. I shot the following picture in a pool hall near my studio and spent hours talking to the owner afterwords! I plan to go back and shoot him too, as he was quite the charactor. In fact, most small business owners, etc. make for interesting photo subjects, as long as you are interested in styles outside of fashion.
    Also, a lot of times people are flattered to be asked and I usually offer to shoot a few shots with them as a thank you.
  5. You will be surprised at how many people actually like their establishment photographed. Just walk in and ask. Dress conservatively and act maturely. Offer to give the establishment a print or two after the shoot.
  6. As above, just ask. I can save you some time w/ some extra info though:
    Most large chains will _not_ let you shoot there with out corporate approval. Mix of liability and use of there IP in your photos. If they have a "signature" look, then a photoshoot will have a reflection on them.
    Hotels have to have their cleaning service do the room after you leave. If they let you use a room you didn't rent, it will generally be w/ the understanding that no one is allowed on the bed (so they don't have to resheet them) and no one can use the bathroom-- so plan to potty before hand, or rent another room to use for that.
    Lobbies are high traffic areas, and you are going to have an uphill battle there-- your best bet would be a non-chain hotel, and off season time of year. Your better bet is a conference room, but keep in mind that you will probably get the caveat that you'll be bumped if a paying party needs it-- and of course, leave it spotless if you get to use it.
  7. Oh thanks for all the advice.
    1. I didn't know hotel lobbies were still having a lot of traffic with the economy. A NYC hotel averages 400$ a night I think. If it's not a weekend?
    2. Mark- really love that you offered a photo session with the pool hall owner. I don't know if I can do non-fashion photography, but I would certainly offer it - or to shoot their family or dogs, their food/products? whatever, it's a great idea.
    3. Nathan the hotel cleaning service has occurred to me, so it would seem unlikely that I'd get a free room no matter what.
    4. Charles - I would have to convince the hotel PR/owner that they would not lose out on revenue in a vacant room, as it's such a small shoot we'd only be there for max 3 hours. I would hope they'd at least offer me an hourly rate you know, my model and I are shooting high the hotels we want are like 400 + a night!!
    AHH omg if I wasn't a student and was rich/had a job lol. Things like location and wardrobe would never phase me.
    Thanks 'yall!! Wish me luck I'm gonna make a few phone calls^^
  8. Hmm WOW No luck with a hotel T__T The trump plaza told me their location fee cost 10 - 25 THOUSAND DOLLARS! Ha I wish!
    Other hotels were like "you have to buy a hotel package to use the room even for a photo shoot. And to photograph anywhere outside your room in the hotel is additional fees"
    Our vision of this photo shoot has become so small T__T Like motel off 1-95 in Queens small lol. Umm no (I want pictures of my model in her gown looking out the window, with a NY view, or strutting down the lobby stairwell. ONLY IN MY DREAMZ!).
  9. I'd start looking around for stores, especially of the second-hand or vintage style, that have a good look about them. You don't have to go seedy, but start looking for budget locations that might have an old-building charm about them. Look for hotel recommendations on, not in Trump Towers.
  10. I'm also a student (though not of photography) and I guess that allows me to think this way.... Have you considered a friend's or kin's apartment with a good view? You can upscale it with slight decoration (if window and not too much interior is the objective) and little modified strategic use of DOF.
    All the best man, I can feel what exactly you are facing.
  11. When you have a vision, there is no reason to compromise. Think outside the box. Shoot your model in a studio and photoshop your desire background to the image.
  12. One other option is that there are a lot of more "public" spaces (read - not as focused on profit and their brand) with views and lighting very near to what you're looking for. Museums, libraries, art galleries... many are created architecturally to be works of art themselves (especially in big cities), and you may find a unique and "perfect" shooting location by exploring those sites as well.
  13. These are all great hints. Going on location gives me the challenge, beauty, and excitement that I could never get from a studio. Several years later, I have been to shoot at many locations! Found most people are friendly much welcoming especially since moving to SC. I have started using location release forms also, it means business!

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