Outdoor Fashion Shoot in Snowdonia
Location Scouting and Location Safety in the mountains of North Wales
It seems like 2017 was the summer of location work for Original Outdoors. We have been putting our experience of working in the world of outdoor adventure in North Wales to use as consultants and location scouts for several years, but this was a busy summer for us.
We were contacted by Claudia from German production company Natural Born Explorers for a project they were working on for a European outdoor clothing and equipment retailer. They had already chosen Snowdonia as a general area for their shoot but wanted some help finding locations, gaining permissions and just the logistics of shooting in a different country. After several Skype conversations and emails we narrowed it down to some key areas in the mountains and forests of Northern Snowdonia.
Then it was down to the usual pre-shoot planning – working with landowners to gain permissions for commercial photography on their land, timelines to make sure we had enough time on location to get what the client needed and be in the right place for the ‘golden hour’ at sunset. We also needed to keep an eye on the weather and make sure that the entire crew were equipped for several days in the mountains.
Any plan that relies on the weather behaving itself or natural light falling in a certain way cannot be too rigid, especially in the mountains. In a few hours we can go from 5 metre visibility, to blue skies then back to heavy cloud and rain. If you only have a few days to get the shots required then you need to be flexible and respond to the challenges thrown up. So that’s what we did – we bounced back and forth between locations, chasing the best of the light and hiding from the weather when it came in and making the most of the sun when it showed itself.
The photographer, Lars Schneider, and the rest of the Natural Born Explorers team all showed that they were not only comfortable in the mountains but they were competent outdoorspeople. The locations chosen were not just footpaths and flat ground easily accessible from the roadside, they included rocky scrambles and ridges requiring a walk-in of 2hrs or more.
The Original Outdoors team was also there as a safety backup in case anything went wrong (or to spot the calamity before it occurred) but the only medical or rescue assistance we had to give was to a member of the public who had suffered a lower-leg injury after a rockfall nearby. They literally hobbled down to the middle of our group, where I offered and delivered some first aid and called in mountain rescue to meet them. Other than that the safety kit stayed in the bags and we spent the days eating biscuits and occasionally looking out for incoming clouds!
Snowdonia and North Wales as a whole is a smart choice for outdoor adventure brands looking for locations to promote their clothing and equipment. 30 minutes drive from a central point like Betws y Coed could take you to a raging river, rocky mountain top or deep and mossy forest. The diversity of locations, good access and landscapes that look a lot wilder than they might actually be works well for international brands too. If you frame a shot just right, or make sure the background is neutral then that rocky ledge or forest trail could be in Oregon, Patagonia or New Zealand. We have a few days doing similar work lined up for 2018 already, and I suspect that we will be seeing more in the next few months.