#SmallTownShoot : Tips for scouting photography locations when you don't live in a major city.

Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com

For those of you new here, I live in Greenville, South Carolina. It's not the smallest town in the world, but it's not a big city either. While I've watched Greenville grow, specifically in culinary and arts, it can still be challenging to find an inspiring place to shoot.

I know that many of you, like me, live in smaller towns, and you might feel discouraged creatively, but I'm here to tell you, you don't have to be! You CAN create AMAZING and UNIQUE content.

It's been five years since I left Florida and moved to Greenville, and I've had to adapt, which is an excellent thing because it's led me to be able to share some fantastic tips with you guys!

Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com

1. NETWORK> My vision for this look was to shoot in a park because well, it's upstate South Carolina after all, there's not much of a tropical vibe here BUT Rony, my AMAZINGLY talented photographer, suggested a new place he'd noticed one afternoon while walking during lunch. He'd stumbled across a U shaped area of lush green plants with sand in the middle. In a small town, this is pure gold! Free of the usual clay, mulch, or rock, it felt like a little tropical oasis that was waiting to cater to my citrus dress. The moment he shared it with me, I thought how incredibly blessed I was to have a photographer with such a creative mind that he would take a mental note of his vision for this spot and share it so that we could create something UNIQUE together.

There was another time during the fall/winter season a couple of years back when an artist (Janina Ellis) noticed me shooting outside of her studio space and invited us in, graciously allowing us to shoot there. That one image we took inside her studio years ago, on her white couch, inspired me to create more lifestyle content around Greenville.

Just recently, I happened to met Sarah DubBose of @sassafrass_flowers during a play date at The Swamp Rabbit Cafe. She has the most stunning Summer flowers, and after striking up a conversation about flower crowns, she enlightened me about her gardens that she, from time to time, opens to the public for a pick your own bouquet event! What an excellent opportunity to get some beautiful shots and support a local business at the same time!

My point to this tip: Get to know other creatives, and I don't mean just other bloggers. I mean creatives of all types as you have one BIG thing in common and that's the ability to express yourself through various forms of art.

Manda Lee Smith | EvocativelyChosen.com

2. HASHTAGS> Inevitably, well depending on how small the town, you won't be able to network with the entire population. Use this technological age to your advantage. Do some research and find out if your town has a specific hashtag. For my city, it's #yeathatgreenville. If they don't, then straight up # your city name on social media. You'd be surprised what gems you find.

Not only am I continually finding a new fun little spot in the Greenville and the surrounding areas, but I've found some fantastic new accounts to follow too!

3. THINK OUTSIDE THE BASIC> Remember my post from last week? Your content does NOT have to mirror the content that leads others to their success. DON'T FORGET THIS! Although beautiful, there's so much more you can be inspired by than just a city skyline: abandoned 19th-century homes, cute little antique stores, a field of daisies, a unique shadow. There are unlimited possibilities once you open your mind to them. Then once you do find that something specific you're inspired by, search for it on Pinterest; usually, you'll find a plethora of images that will help you to create an even bigger vision than you had before.

3. EXPLORE> Naturally; this is my next tip. Get out of your house. One of our favorite things to do on the weekends is to drive around. It's almost like a date for us because the kids are all confined to their car seats. Take physical notes of the address and spots that you find interesting, even take pictures.

But beyond driving around, get involved with the events your town offers. Fairs, the circus, farmers markets, cultural festivals, and music festivals are all great examples of possible seasonal shoot locations common to smaller cities. Find a calendar of all the events going on in your area and go scout them out!

4. DAYTRIP> If you're still feeling uninspired by your town THEN LEAVE IT! Hashtag another city relatively close to you and step out of your element. For us, Asheville, Charlotte, and Columbia are all relatively close and have "new to the feed" places of refreshing inspiration!

Manda Lee Smith EvocativelyChosen.com

5. LET YOUR PAST SELF INSPIRE YOUR FUTURE SELF> This one! Get your scroll on girls! Go back to a year or two ago on your feed, and you're sure to find some place to revisit you've forgotten. Locations that you're present self is likely to be looking at through a more vivid and focused lens to create even better content than the first time around.

6. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF INSIDE LOCATIONS> It may not be a café in Paris, but a cute little diner you color coordinate with, your local juice or coffee shops, history museums in your area, and hotels, are all good options to create a story. Even the smallest of towns usually has at least one cute little coffee shop.

7. BE FLEXIBLE & TRUST YOUR TEAM> This may be my most important tip yet! Even the best-laid plans go awry. If your vision isn't coming to fruition at a specific location, find a different angle or just straight up move on. There's been plenty of times when I've had a particular idea in mind, and then Rony suggest another spot I'm not sure about, and it ends up being the location that genuinely highlights my outfit more authentically. There have also been times, like on my last shoot, where we already have a spot we're shooting but then we stumble across a place or object that we just can't pass up. Let your "in-the-moment" inspiration run wild and free too.

8. PROPS> Props can make an absolutely HUGE difference in creating visual appeal in a vanilla location. Hit up some antique stores, buy silk flowers or the real deal, find fresh texture, and who knows one of these things might just inspire an entire idea!

I hope you guys have enjoyed these tips! Thinking through some of these has actually inspired my shoot for this weekend, and I cannot wait to share what Rony & I create!

And...I would LOVE to see what you create! Tag me in your own #smalltownshoot so I can share!!!!

Xx Manda Lee