Skip to main content

Location Vocabulary

Lesson 2 from: Location, Posing, Execution

Roberto Valenzuela

Location Vocabulary

Lesson 2 from: Location, Posing, Execution

Roberto Valenzuela

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

2. Location Vocabulary

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is location vocabulary, specifically focusing on how to transform objects in a location to create interesting backgrounds and use elements like patterns, colors, and shadows to enhance photos.


  1. How can you transform objects in a location to create interesting backgrounds?

    By looking at the patterns and forms of the objects instead of just seeing them as what they are, and using them as backgrounds or elements in the composition of the photo.

  2. How can you use patterns and repetitions in a location to enhance your photos?

    Patterns and repetitions can be used to create a sense of harmony and balance in the composition of the photo.

  3. What should you consider when it comes to colors in the background of your photos?

    It is important to look for colors that are part of the same color family, as they will blend into the background and not distract from the subjects. Primary colors like red, green, and blue can be distracting and should be avoided.

  4. How can you use shadows in your photos?

    Shadows can be used to create contrast and add depth to the composition. You can use existing shadows in the location or create shadows using tools like flashes.

  5. How can you use reflections in your photos?

    Instead of just having the subject look at themselves in a mirror, try to find the meaning of the reflection and use it creatively in the composition.

  6. How can you balance the colors of the background with the colors of the subject's clothing?

    The color theory discussed in the lesson applies to the background, not the subject's clothing. The focus should be on finding a background that complements the subject and does not distract from them.

  7. How can you practice these concepts without having a subject to shoot?

    Take a 5-minute walk and try to identify elements in the environment that can be used in your photography, such as patterns, colors, and shadows. You can also practice with everyday objects like fruits or household items.

Lesson Info

Location Vocabulary

what do you see in front of you in front of me um a fireplace a fireplace good paper what do you see underneath your feet what is this gold our robert is faces a rug fantastic what happens if you go to a new location and they don't have a rug improvise right like what happens if you have what I mean is there's about ten trillion objects you're going to run into in photography ten trillion or maybe that's an understatement maybe like fifty brazilian trillion elements so instead of looking at the elements for what objects they are the only way it would make sense to me to not be limited by those particular objects is to is to transform them in my eye from what they are so what form they make they make any sense for example this rug is a rug yes but to me to make sense out of this rug this is nothing more than a set of patterns make sense this is just a set of patterns that I can use so when I walked into his room my eyes went patterns my eyes didn't think rug when I saw that piano I saw ...

I had a black lacquer my brain said reflection possible reflection with a video like not all look this a piano um when I saw the fireplace first of all this is like a fake fire like I'm not getting any heat from this whatsoever right nothing when I saw this fireplace I saw a square no just a fireplace um when I saw that meter it wasn't just a meter that mirror has a frame and that frame is full of rectangles and look at all the rectangles this mirror has so what what can I do with that mirror well nothing is too high but if you were slower I could have I can do stuff with us with us with those rectangles to create something out of that meteor okay um you see that wall over there that well next without curtain that's not a wall that's a single color background it's monochromatic if you have a single color behind your subjects are you going to distract from your subjects absolutely not so if you start thinking in terms off what the gifts are instead of what the objects actually are you're starting your transformation and you're starting to evolve already okay uh let's see friend can you stand up here for a second okay forget the fact that the candles why shape do they make excellent correct okay you see this little tool here you see that there's a shadow in the back of the bus so now you have a white wall you can guess the shot on that white wall canned you so now a wall not only said a clean color background for your subjects but now it's a potential shadow that you could create some exams before you sat down in that couch you probably would have thought that's just a vast industry of scandals but now you realize if I have a blank wall I can do two things well more than that but I can do two things I can make my subjects stand out because they're not there's no distractions it's a seamless in one single color background I can oh do you see this you see how this backwards like a texture to it okay is that a problem picture is distracting to your subjects so how do you fix it you change your aperture you go further away you put your subjects hear this becomes a creamy white because it's all blurry now but the walk and also leave behind the shadow and they can leave behind its color which is what you want because it's a seamless color right right you have a couch here that couch is made out ofthe neutral pastel color if you're going to be shooting details and stuff or anything like that this is gonna be a good background for you because it doesn't have any crazy polka dot patterns or anything like that since that's not distracting it's not distracting so it it's also an opportunity for you to put the person sitting down on the floor and rest there back you can put you can do a lot of different things for this you get that wall over there you see that shadow by that by that lamp see how it just starts to go endless yeah that's why it's important to look at locations not for what objects they are but what well forms they make on what gifts they can give you ok ok thank you so this is where all this comes from now I'm going to go through them quickly because I don't know if people can read this are online but this means this is talking about geometry of things when I was when I drop into this place I saw this there was like geometry everywhere okay now remember don't look at the driveway as a driveway look at it and I said some sort of form geometric form you can use okay um balance is balance is complicated chapters in my book balance with objects there's balance with objects and then there's balance with people for example I'm going to draw on my little white board I'm not going to run over your cables that's okay okay you have a location like this you have a really cool door here there's a little door the door is read this door is a rectangle the door can be a frame and frame is part of my location charge so if you look at this this is like playing a little game is like you pull little things and you could have used them you're like this location has reflection symmetry color elements framed walls see what I mean now what can you do with all these things thousands of stuff that's the problem right there okay frames you have you have ah background like that um uh you want to use the frame so most people would put their their their subjects inside the frame is that fair to say because trust me I'm a judge for the photo competitions I see the doors and see the person inside the door all the time now what's wrong with this picture no balance see this is an element of interest so I want to write this down here ah I'm gonna put elements off in the rest who should be your main element of interest your subjects so any other element of interest has to either not compete with yourself has to not compete with your subjects any other element of interest has to balance your subjects so it could be harmonia harmonious so whatever you say it is not right that I pronounce it okay so if you have a person here I look at the scene and I say this distance from here to here should be pretty equal to the discipline here and here and then I'll put my subjects they're some accents now why does this is something why does this distance have to be similar right like what happens if you have a photo whatever you have a photo like this and this person is right here on the other person is right here doesn't look like you're claustrophobic like you're smashing the guy into a little box and he wants to get out but you won't let him because he's stuck in the little box forever and ever right um so balance is a lot to do with this thing's so once we get to do the photo shoot you always have to ask yourself if you have multiple elements of interest in a scene which you always do which interest point do you choose to balance with on my solution to that is always what's the brightest most distracting element of interest on for example if you have a scene and you have a door and this door is red that's the price so I'm guessing you have clouds and you have a tree I mean that's not true that the person you have a tree you have little branches it's happy okay uh but the trees brown and you're like in a park with this older brown colors around tomi that treatment starts to blame them and it's no longer a threat to my subjects but that red door screaming look at me don't look at the subject's look at me I am the door I am red I demand attention see what I'm saying so if you ever have that ask yourself what's the price is most distracting if you don't have one that's really bright then that's herself what's the biggest okay and if you don't have a biggest than when you're in big trouble actually the other one is what is repetitive like which one is the brightest most distracting the next one is which is the biggest element in the scene that's going to be distracting on the third which parts of these elements are repetitive repeating each other if you find like they said you have some grass and the grass is gonna go on like this what do you put the person that you have a tree here what do you put the person on the left if the tree's not distracting you that's racing along is not distracting you because it's the same kind of dollar calling distance from frame this is going to distract the viewer of your photo is going to be more attracted to the repetition so you want to balance it with this not with this if you put your subjects here because you were trying to balance with the tree you're going to be screwing up your photo right away by the way that's just a little taste off one of them that was a taste ofthe one square I mean this can go on for a long time but when you go home especially the person had has kids and stuff you'll have five minutes to go outside and walk around you khun without a camera you could just be like that's repetitive that's the brightest that's that's the biggest that's repetitive that's the bread is that's the biggest and then when you walk into a senior like that's the brightest stand over here that's repetitive stand over here then you start to learn howto make poetry instead of just words or sentences okay okay let's talk about shadows which is gonna be a pretty big subject shadows guys are are things if you have shadows in your environment that are already there then you can use the shadow I'm the shadow will be become we will become the brightest because it's the most contrasting is the most distracting so you can either put the person right there and don't balance it or you can balance with shadow something sense you can create shadows like you can use you can use this tool you can put a foot put his tool by ah white wall you can put a flash to landstuhl on this little squares will show up here and you can put your subject and from your subject with shadow that's another thing you could do I do this all the time in fact that you shot a wedding last weekend the groom was like what do you do it because I was like see what I mean but they went to the photo he was like oh my god like I'll show you guys the photo too but he was just like dude what the heck is wrong with you right because they don't understand that you can use the objects to create shadow so whenever I walk into a room I look at the shapes of everything like the back of chairs obviously those chairs don't have any mesh but the pipe of chairs any kind of element that's here that you can use to create a shadow can be used this is the gift that location is giving you you have to find them okay uh reflections by reflections I don't just mean have the person look at herself in the meter that's like river poetry means don't go by the obvious doesn't poetry have some sort of like hidden meaning you're going to find it so if you have a mirror don't be like meaner oh my god I have an idea let's put the bride in front of the mirror and just have her look at herself because there's no poetry find the meaning of the mirror like get them get the mere power without the obvious choice okay let me talk about this one this is one of the most important ones color elements um oh boy color elements is huge because colored elements as the main source of distraction from people okay whenever I'm looking at a scene I ask myself do I have is that background three color elements or less and if the answer is no there's ten thousand colors in the background I do not shoot in that background if my question is is there um a monochromatic color like is there anywhere where I have a single color if the answer is yes I'm going to be using it for a portrait somewhere I don't care if he's got texture little chinese I don't care what it is because with aperture you can get rid of all of that now what happens if you have a location where you do have ten thousand colors and you have to use it then the answer to that is or the question is are those colors part of the same color family because if they are they blend into the background but if they don't they create a contrast some accents on the worst colors you can have in the background are the primary colors red green and blue trust me I picture with something red in the background it's going to draw your viewer's attention right to that red that's why photos from grass don't work grass is green green is a primary color your eye goes right to the grass and your stuff just become like secondary um whenever I think grass pictures if I ever do I try not to I tried not to show the grass but if I have to show the grass I told it down later make sure that the green is very muted okay um so let me repeat what I just said the same color family is colors that are all gonna blend in together let me give an example of this place here let's see could you pass me that pillow behind you come out ok any hero okay if you went to photo shop and you put your little eyedropper into this there's going to be about ten thousand million colors here is that not right even better but are these colors all part of the same color family are they all different shades of brown therefore when you think a picture because it all will become part of that part of like a mesh off neutral colors that don't distract it's a good choice for a background now this one same thing this one distract you even though there's a lot of colors here because they're all part of this crazy whatever you call this type of color what is this yeah like a rustic right these in the background and it's a little more dangerous because this is kind of like a red red but it's not really rad is kind of like a wine color like a burgundy or something but this background won't be a distracting because it's all part of the same color family it's all part of the same color palette when we go outside and we do photo shoots I'm gonna challenge you to say you have to shoot here and you're gonna have to angle the camera to find the same color palette in the background single color in the background or you're gonna have to balance with colors in the background that's the third one the third witness if you do have colors and they're not part of the same color family can you find a way to balance those colors with your subjects and if the answer is yes you can shoot there if the answer is now it's going to be distracting it's not gonna help you okay so thank you the next one is let's talk about this one patterns and repetitions when we go out there you see why I when I entered this room this rock became a pattern the pattern repeats itself you see that you can use this is the background because it has patterns or petition has the gift of it if you look at this thing here okay you look at this bank loans this pine cones make patterns and repetitions when you put it all together therefore this is not a distracting element patterns and repetitions your brain kind of like throws them out your brain says it's just a pattern I can throw it out that's why people use patterns in nyc in wallpaper right so in wallpaper you want the furniture to stand out not the wallpaper so that wallpaper school pattern even though it's a pattern because the pattern repeats itself your brain this mississippi so when we go out I'm gonna ask you where is the pattern on the repetition here and then you're gonna learn to use it with balance you have to put all these things together okay um let's talk about contrasts contrasts the most important contrast I like to discuss this contrast of light when you have a dark room with a bright light outside when you have anything that's dark and bright dark and bright it's going to be unexciting photograph for you okay if you do not look for contrast you're gonna walk around this beautiful gift you're totally this mister you walk right by them because you'll be looking for the fountain in the park now you see how the fountain in the park is nothing fountain in the park is like the worst possible choice in the world unless you know the bride ask you or they make you right all that you can use that in a cool way in this way you know um lance lair let's let's go I want to talk about the real quick if you use lend the whole point of landslide is to create romance in a photograph but if that roman's comes at a price of having the sun in the background that son becomes the brightest point and that's not going to help you remember you don't want to win your subject's face to be the brightest point in the photograph all the time so when you use a lance flare it's because you say I want to create a romantic image how do I do that I use lance where I don't have a certain distance at twelve o'clock use a flash put the flash behind them that's the sun or I don't have a flash but the sun is right there okay I can use the sun now do you put the sun in the photo do you crop the son out you have to cross the sun out because if you leave it there yeah it's gonna look romantic but then the sun is going to just grab your attention okay um uh we're gonna we're gonna go on break on dh we're gonna I talked about some of the most important ones like the frames and the repetitions and all the stuff um when we come back we're going to start doing the photo reviews by everybody on dh I'm going to discuss this little anchor points for posting which is which became like my grammar for posing this I call them my spy lucky sevens because it's seven seven seven is what I do all the time seven points here seven points here and seven execution points those twenty one points if you know them you memorize them and you master them you will not have one hundred ten one thousand posters in an hour you will have ten million to choose from for the rest of your life you will not have ten posters in ten seconds you will have unlimited posters for the rest of your life okay this is the seven on we'll discuss him okay straight spine position had killed him but this is going to sound very complicated we'll do this when we come back from the break but you could take a look at them right now I'm so excited to have a million billion is one point five million ok yeah let me reel that back way women make sure we keep it understand what I mean is it it will be pretty hard for you to run out of ideas okay all right anything you want q and a's over all right let's let's ask some questions if you have any questions in the audience before we do earlier you said you could use this rug has a background in general how would you make a rug a background like just shooting from above mostly okay I mean if you cannot stand getting a good vantage point then you can use the sixteen to thirty five millimeter which is going to make it look like you're twenty feet up up up in the air you know you zoom out to sixty millimeters if you point and shoot you will develop this crazy steps that's what I look like your twenty feet up in the air off course remember what I said no matter what for do you think no matter what you do your subject's face has to be the brightest points of the bottle like fix that somehow you know um I mean we're talking about how to create equal rations of the body I mean it gets pretty heavy which is why you can always review this rewind and play it again and re wind and play it again you're gonna need to practice you need to practice your going over it go ordering a lot of times wait a couple people have asked this elvis say had asked how to balance the colors of the background with the color of clothes which ones are better and andy martin had also asked does this color theory applied to the clothing the client wears no the color the colors of your claims where's doesn't have anything to do with what I was talking about I was thinking about the colors of the background whatever is going to be in your frame behind your subjects is what I was talking about ok I remember just red green and blues are dangerous color still having your background unless they are a single color I did not know that yeah it's just it goes from watching I get very obsessed with studying photography I don't know if you can tell but ten thousand brazilian photos afterwards you start to realize why does this photo now look very good if everything's so nice about it I don't you realize you can't enjoy the photo because your ice all over the place because you can't your brain will net you it's like here's rare here's green here's blue is like you know here's a frame like the pictures very waited on the right you have a frame you have a person you have all this stuff happening when the right time and there's like nothing on the left and it's just like I hate it you know I mean you don't know what's wrong but something's wrong right um well question for you maybe before we go to break no you ask away so a couple people asked this uh debbie and cc liz and atlanta damn rin was saying how do you practice if you don't have a subject to shoot every day and say if you are a wedding photographer do you set up fake weddings or do practice in other ways ok if you make your practice sessions complicated you're never going to do it like what I said earlier today you don't have to have anyone except your eyes and take a five minute walk and try to identify this elements in the scene in front of you like you can say there's a pattern there's a circle there's a wall a wall what can I do with a wall I could make a shadow there I can put her as a background for a single color there's colors but they're all part of the same family so I could use that as a background these colors here are are not part of the same family I'm not going I'm not going to go there see what I mean we you can do it without a camera and you can do it for five minutes it's not really complicated some people say like oh I have to call the coordinator and I have to get like a flower arrangement and I have to get models by the time you do that you'll never do it or you'll do it once in your career you know I used banana steady bears you know everybody knows remember when I did that I think were you there in one day when I showed all my sessions that I practice with bananas and stuff to tell you a banana skin is good because it resembles human skin so when I was trying to practise with like the ice light or when I tried to see what hi we will behave on a person I just I just bust out the fruits you know and I cannot be like take a look you'll be surprised how many posters came out of straight fruit shots I even tell my clients when they come to to meet with me so that's when they weigh have two glasses of wine and sometimes I'm like they're like this food is amazing how did you come up with it and I actually show them the photo off like the apple and I'm like well this photo given this um I've practiced balance a lot with different fruits like I put two apples and then I tried to find balance instinctively because what happens is when you get nervous and you're in the middle of a shoot yeah you know you're supposed to balance but your brain forgets all about that because you're so nervous and you're in the middle of a shoot so this is where your brain is instinctive like you look at in your life uh on your brain like those factors to your little workout session that you had like post information and you're like oh yeah to do when you take a picture you know and then you can concentrating in your job in creating cool photos instead of just like messing around with buttons and stuff I love what you said about um if it's too difficult you won't do it if you make things way too complicated you just you procrastinate even more so I really appreciate that also do it step by step like some guy came up to me one time idol worship and said well I practiced with like ten flash shut up and I'm like I never got anywhere I'm like well yeah like I don't even get anywhere within flash out like who the heck does that like started with one get to know that one I had another one see what you can do it too and maybe two or three if you really need to but you really need to do that on do it very systematically so your brain remembers I tryto pull two or three main points from each session that your brain can remember you try to do thirty five points in one session you'll forget all thirty five you know

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Roberto Valenzuela creativeLIVE Keynote Slides.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Im a freelancer and have studied photo school several years ago and also been working as an assistant for a few years. I think you always have things to learn and keep you from getting stagnant in photography, and i find creative live is a great source for that. Been taking some of Lindseys classes and watched several others from Sue Bryce as well as other classes for equipment and about shooting people in general. I always read what others have said before to avoid any classes that are not informative etc or have a teacher that leave out too much, i was drawn to what people said about Roberto walking the students through the shoots and that he had this great system you could use and take with you when you go forward. I actually never heard of Roberto before but were mainly interested cause of what he was teaching here. I have now watched almost the whole course and first of all let me say i do recommend it a lot. Its a great system to use in my opinion, and i have learned some great stuff to think about that will enhance my own photography, and its a great reference to go back to when you need it. Roberto as a teacher is relaxed, intelligent and has great humor that i can relate to. So you you are not "bored" which is also very important, he keeps it interesting. Some things that i did not like about his way of teaching was that he was a little too impatient at times when the students tried shooting themselves , he reminded me of other photographers i have worked with in past. They were also very impatient sometimes when people around them were moving to slow for the shot to get done etc. I understand during the course the students had limited time to get every shoot done. But many times i was frustrated with that Roberto almost always stepped in too early to "help" them out but instead kind of took over telling them what angle would work best or what light that should be used. It was almost as he wanted his system to show up as flawless and felt as he was scared letting the students try it out on their own because that would somehow show a flaw in his system. I would rather have had him let them try first and later he could come in and suggest the different angles and light. But now many times he would take over and also take his own picture and pointed to the strengths of that picture and why it worked. Still, you learn because he explains at the same time, and walk you through everything. I just find that you would learn even more letting the students fail first or do it right on their own. Also sometimes he would choose a location and say: You can use this wall and these props etc, then when the student would start he would suddenly limit them and instead tell them what to use and how they should crop so that the location itself would not make much difference. Otherwise though, great course. I think i would buy another course from Roberto as well if it was something i needed from it.

a Creativelive Student

I have seen many of the creative live workshops, and attended many great workshops by photographers, including Jerry Ghionis. It was Jerry's wife - Meliisa Ghionis who suggested that Roberto's course on creative live should be a must see. This course was by far the best on creative live for improving your photography of couples, it is just brilliant and has improved my photography in leaps and bounds. There are many great photographers, but most do not know how to pass on their knowledge to others - Roberto is the exception I would consider this course a must see for any wedding photographer, no matter what your experience.


Love Love Love this class!! The way Roberto integrates class participation into his teaching is such an amazing teaching technique! CreativeLIVE has some amazing teachers, I have learned so much from many of them, but Roberto's "hands-on" approach put's the on-line audience in the moment. Very captivating teacher! By far I would say this is one of the, if not the best photography class I have watched!! Thank you!!

Student Work