Here's How to Shoot Striking Portraits in Ugly Locations

Let's face it: not every location is going to be ideal for a photo shoot. In fact, probably 99% of outdoor locations look dreadful for shooting portraits. (At least at first glance.)

No, we all can't travel to Santorini, Greece or Positano, Italy every weekend to shoot Instagram-worthy photos. Usually, we have to use with the hand we're dealt with as photographers and that means junky, cluttered backgrounds and trashy surroundings.

But if you're creative and have a good eye, you can "make it work," as Tim Gunn likes to say. In the below video, the folks from Mango Street show you how in their "Ugly Location Portrait Challenge." Even better for those who want to get a wider scope of how unappealing the scenes they pick are, their tutorial was shot in VR 180, which allows you to scroll around the video to get a 180-degree view of the "ugly" locations.

"The goal here is to challenge each other with unideal locations," Daniel from Mango Street says. "Since ugly is kind of a subjective word, we're picking locations that we normally wouldn't choose as portrait backdrops, so they're unideal for a variety of reasons and pretty much as ugly as we can find in downtown LA."

In the video challenge, Daniel and Rachel choose ugly locations for each other to shoot portraits at. See how they did and how they were able to muster their creativity to turn something that looks bad at first glance, into interesting, appealing photos. Then go visit their YouTube channel for more fun photography tutorials and challenges.

If you're seeking more inspiration for shooting in ugly locations, watch our video where we picked "5 Great Portrait Photography Locations You Can Find Right Outside Your Door."