How to create stunning locations

  • how to create stunning locations by Krista Campbell

How to create stunning locations

When I first discovered this passion called photography, I would always admire those lovely photographs that photographers had on their blogs of children and families in gorgeous fields of wildflowers.

At the time, I lived in the city – Phoenix, Arizona, the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Wildflower fields and large fields of tall grass and wheat were few and far between, so I learned to create the illusion of lush fields and wildflowers with my photography.

Since then, I have relocated to Northwest Arkansas. Spring has finally sprung here in the south and I took my daughter out last week for some magical spring pictures. You can create magical spring images, even without lush fields and blankets of wildflowers.

Let me show you how.

Scout locations daily.

Be a diligent location-scout… scout often and everywhere.  This first location is at the entrance to my housing development.  It’s not a lush field, but actually a large empty lot.

This location is in an empty lot across the street from my house. It’s nothing special, but I noticed these small purple flowers the other day and decided to photograph my daughter in the middle of this small patch to create the illusion of a field of wildflowers.

Think small.

When scouting the perfect location, you don’t always need to look for large areas. Think small. This small patch of grass at the top of a small hill makes the perfect backdrop for magical images. Be sure to look at the background. When I moved slightly to the left, I was able to avoid the house in the background and get more of the trees directly behind my daughter.

Get low.

You can create the illusion of a lush location by getting down low. When you get down low, grass begins to look taller and more lush.

Here are 2 shots of my location- absolutely nothing special. Can you see how I was thinking “small”?

Shoot wide open.

Or close to it… Shooting wide open allows you to blur not-so-perfect backgrounds. Toggle your focus points and focus on one of your subject’s eyes so that your subject is in perfect focus and everything else starts to melt away. Shooting wide open creates a magical feel to your images.

Put your subject’s back to the sun.

Mmmm, I love me some sweet, buttery backlight! Shoot when the sun is low in the horizon (usually around an hour before sunset is best) and put your subject’s back to the sun. Shooting wide open into the backlight helps to create the magical feel in your spring images. Meter for your subject’s face and bring a reflector if you like. Most of the time I do not have the time to pull out my reflector, so I will throw on a white t-shirt or add light to my subject’s face in Photoshop.

Utilize the power of Photoshop.

Don’t be afraid to add a little magic in post-processing. Because I was shooting wide open and exposed for my subject’s face, my background became blown-out.

No problem! I use my clone stamp tool and a cloud overlay to add interest and drama to the background. This particular cloud overlay is from Florabella’s Classic Workflow & Hazy Skies Action Set, but I have also created my own by taking pictures of clouds in my own backyard.

Use the clone stamp tool to add more flowers to a field, straighten a horizon, or remove distracting elements from the background.

I love adding magical light to my images. Sunbursts are created when shooting with a high f-stop of f/16 or higher. Since I shot these images wide open, the sun peeking just above the horizon was smooth and creamy, and I was not able to create a sunburst effect with the sun. I added a starburst in post-processing. This sunburst is from Nichole Van’s Flares & Sunbursts. Adding a sunburst adds just the right amount of drama and enhances that magical feel to your images. The trick to natural looking photos is to add sunbursts only where the natural sun is peeking through in the background. Adding a sun effect where there was no sun or on a cloudy day can often lead to an unnatural looking photo. Be mindful of the light in your image before adding a light texture or overlay.

As the temperatures begin to rise and that glorious sun begins to shine just a little bit brighter and warmer, I hope that these tips inspire you to go out and take your own magical, spring-inspired images.

About the Author:

Krista is natural light portrait, senior, and wedding photographer in Northwest Arkansas. A lover of golden fields, buttery backlight, and authentic emotion, she strives to transform the mundane into the magical by showcasing amazing light and interaction in her photography. She is a devoted wife and mother of a spirited daughter, who also serves as her muse. Krista loves spicy Mexican food, reality TV, the ocean, and connecting with nature. She is the author of Transforming the Mundane Into Magical. Visit Krista Campbell online.


  1. Jes Gwozdz May 02 2012 at 7:42 am - Reply

    Great tips! This makes me see my neighborhood in a whole new way.

  2. celestejones May 02 2012 at 7:44 am - Reply

    pretty. i always appreciate your knowledge and i love your images.

  3. Amii May 02 2012 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Wow, these are awesome tips, Krista!! I always love knowing exactly where people take their gorgeous images…just goes to show how much a photographer really needs to think about rather to get a beautiful shot!

  4. Melissa May 02 2012 at 7:52 am - Reply

    Thanks! Going out to look today 🙂

  5. Sabrina May 02 2012 at 7:59 am - Reply

    Amazing! Love your images!!! And great tips!

  6. Elena May 02 2012 at 8:03 am - Reply

    Great tips! Thank you!!

  7. Mindy May 02 2012 at 8:07 am - Reply

    love pull backs! They show what amazing things you can do with what you have, thank you!

  8. Amanda May 02 2012 at 8:16 am - Reply

    Whooo Pig Sooie – Yeah for NWA girls, great article

  9. Lorna May 02 2012 at 8:19 am - Reply

    Amazing and such beautiful edits. I will be much more open minded about spaces in the future and see the potential. Thank you for this fantastic post.

  10. Alice C. May 02 2012 at 8:23 am - Reply

    Wow Krista these are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your before/afters!

  11. Nikki Crockett May 02 2012 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Really helpful to think small instead of big….love your before and after shots!!

  12. Jackie C May 02 2012 at 8:48 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing the before/afters. It is so good and liberating to see what others are doing – sometimes I look at a picture and think the photographer must've been so lucky with the light, or wondered how they have managed to achieve such an awesome shot in the camera. Great images, and fab processing – I am officially inspired! 🙂

  13. Marilyn May 02 2012 at 8:49 am - Reply

    Amazing work. I love your ideas

  14. Crystal May 02 2012 at 8:52 am - Reply


  15. Lara K May 02 2012 at 8:55 am - Reply

    fantastic post Krista thank you so much for this! totally inspired to scout out some undiscovered gems in my area!!! 😀

  16. christina May 02 2012 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Fantastic!!! Love these ideas, thanks so much Krista. <3

  17. kim May 02 2012 at 9:04 am - Reply

    thanks so much for this! wonderful post!

  18. Natalie @MamaTrack May 02 2012 at 9:04 am - Reply

    Wow–these tips are amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Bonnie C May 02 2012 at 9:07 am - Reply

    Great tutorial! Thanks!

  20. Michelle May 02 2012 at 9:09 am - Reply

    Oh wow! Awesome advice. Now I'm inspired to go out and find some "not so stellar" locations!

  21. Rachel May 02 2012 at 9:12 am - Reply

    This is such a great post! Thanks for the awesome tips Krista!!

  22. Erin Kroll May 02 2012 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Krista, your daughter is gorgeous! The shot of her looking straight at the camera melts my heart.

  23. Corina SIlva May 02 2012 at 9:31 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Jaimi May 02 2012 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Awesome! I'm inspired!

  25. Becki May 02 2012 at 9:53 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for your article~ I love the before and after pictures too and the whole article and your thought process…. I need to learn to photoshop.. arrrggg that's another story but you have given me and inspiration. Thank you so much and I love your pictures!

  26. Ariana Falerni May 02 2012 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Beautiful and inspiring!

  27. kathleen May 02 2012 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Thank you for this. I need to stop making excuses and get out there and shoot every day. It's been about 2 weeks since I've seriously picked up my DSLR. eek!! Good think I have my phone camera for at least some pictures.

  28. jodi May 02 2012 at 10:45 am - Reply

    awesome article, krista! i'm going be rethinking some ordinary spots i've written off as "nothing special". i bet there's actually pockets of goodness in them!

  29. Faith Doggett May 02 2012 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Thank you! This was very helpful! LOVE your images!

  30. Samantha May 02 2012 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the inspiration! Your "after" images are stunning!

  31. Carrie Nelson May 02 2012 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    WOW! Now going to really look at my backyard with new eyes!!! 🙂 thanks so much Krista, these images are amazing!

  32. Melissa May 02 2012 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Wow, thanks so much for this is very helpful! I have been driving around trying to find some awesome fields but this makes me rethink everything and I think I can get some great shots right at home!! Amazing thanks again.

  33. Bria May 02 2012 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Beautiful pictures! And great advice!!

  34. Tessa May 02 2012 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Love these Krista! I think this a sign of true professional status when you can take an ordinary area with just a little potential and turn it into an amazing photo! And being able to see potential in the ordinary. We don't all have the privilege of living by a beautiful field of wildflowers but "making do" can produce some amazing results! Thanks for the inspiration! =)

  35. Margy May 02 2012 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Awesome tips! Thank you so much for sharing the info as well as the befores and afters.

  36. Lucy K. May 02 2012 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your wonderful examples Krista. Your after photos seem like you have this magical dreamy location, beautiful!

  37. Sandy May 02 2012 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    The before and after really helps to under stand what you are talking about!

    Thanks so much for doing this!

  38. Victoria May 02 2012 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    These look AMAZING

  39. Krista Campbell Phot May 02 2012 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much everyone for the kind words. I hope this was helpful and that it gives you the motivation to get out there and shoot! 🙂

  40. Kelly May 02 2012 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Wow, what a helpful article. I have a small photography business and just relocated and this gives me hope! Very inspiring.

  41. Amy May 02 2012 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    amazing! what great helpful tips! I love this! I'm going out on Saturday to shoot and will get some pull backs

  42. Brianna Storch May 02 2012 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this article! I dabble photography and although i don't plan on making a career out of it, I still get jealous when I see some amazing photos come out of people who are not so different than myself. I really want to take good shots so at least I have something to use on my PROFESSIONAL coordination website.

    This told me a LOT about the true nature of photos and that most of the end-shots I'm seeing also have to do with post processing. So I don't feel so unskilled! 🙂

  43. Heidi May 02 2012 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    What a great a blog post. Very inspiring to make the most out of any location!

  44. Annie May 02 2012 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    This post just blew my mind! I will certainly be keeping an eye out for possible locations from now on!

  45. Colie J May 02 2012 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    My jaw dropped… fantastic

  46. Danielle May 02 2012 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    These are great tips, Krista!! You have definitely inspired me to get out there and shoot. Beautiful work, as always!

  47. Candice May 02 2012 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    awesome! I was just thinking today about this very thing. We drove by this empty grassy lot today on my way to work and I though "that would actually make a nice backdrop!" 🙂

  48. Leah Cook May 02 2012 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    you're so generous to share some of your secrets, Krista!! I always love seeing images of your beautiful daughter…great reminders that magical spots are all around us!

  49. Ellen K in MD May 03 2012 at 3:57 am - Reply

    Wow- that's some amazing stuff! 🙂

  50. Crysti POtter May 03 2012 at 4:45 am - Reply

    this is a great tutorial and so true,,people think you have to have big spaces but there is tons of little spaces shoved here there that will work for anyone that is great..i have seen small pretty spots behind business buildings in our small town and just driving down the road,,Krista you are great,,always enjoy everything you write//

  51. elaina May 03 2012 at 6:05 am - Reply

    Love this article! thanks!!!!

  52. Kristen May 03 2012 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Awesome photos and great tips. Thanks!

  53. Alex Rickard May 03 2012 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Wow, love this, thank you so much xxxx

  54. Monica Wilkinson May 03 2012 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Wonderful tips Krista!

  55. Lisa Benemelis May 03 2012 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    This is a wonderful article full of great ideas, Krista. Thank you!! 🙂

  56. Marsha May 03 2012 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Love these tips!!

  57. Andrea Townsley May 03 2012 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    This is a good article on how to use space effectively, but as far as editing the images go, it's a little much. The SOOC images are cool and underexposed. If you get it right in camera, you won't have to do all that in post.

  58. Brad May 03 2012 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Really, really helpful …. thank you so much!!

  59. Tina May 03 2012 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    This is a wonderful read! Very informative.. thank you!!

  60. Sarah Overland May 03 2012 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    WOW WOW WOW!!! Amazing!! Thanks you so so so so much for sharing!!! <3 <3 <3

  61. mazaziman May 04 2012 at 1:17 am - Reply

    awesome write up. thanks for the tips.

  62. Ashley May 04 2012 at 9:36 am - Reply

    oh wow! stunning! can't wait to take a boo at your website/blog later tonight after my lil terror is in bed 🙂 Thanks for sharing

  63. Novella G May 04 2012 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Thanks! This a great tutorial!

  64. Agnes May 04 2012 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    Wow Krista! So fantastic and helpful. Thank you for being so generous to share all this info with us.

  65. Tanya May 04 2012 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    Wow! What a great blog post! You are so sweet and generous for sharing these tips with us! I love your work! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  66. Tracy Bradbury May 04 2012 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Great article Krista, your photos are beautiful <3 Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  67. Joyce Kang May 04 2012 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    I think your processing is beautiful!! The colors are just gorgeous. I believe photographer is an artist, each is special and unique. If we all have the same processing style, then the artistry of photography becomes blend and boring. Thank you for showing us how to see beauty in most unlikely places!!

  68. Sarah Vaughn May 04 2012 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Your work is just stunning, as always, Krista! You never cease to amaze me with the beauty of your work. Your processing always enhances your image perfectly!

  69. Emma May 04 2012 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    Fantastic blog post Krista, so insightful. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it for us. 🙂

  70. Sheryl Salisbury May 05 2012 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful article. It's nice to hear another photographer doing the same thing I do. It makes me feel I'm on the right path. lol Great story and great pictures.

  71. Sarah Cutright May 06 2012 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your techniques, Krista! Especially your before and afters – very inspiring!

  72. becky May 07 2012 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    The ideas are good but the SOOCs are poorly exposed. Editing isn't for "fixing" poor exposure

  73. Nina May 08 2012 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    thank you for great tips!

  74. Melinda May 09 2012 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Wow, awesome post and your images are fabulous!!~

    Thank you so much for the wonderful tips Krista!!~



  75. Judy May 10 2012 at 2:22 am - Reply

    Awesome tutorial! Photography is an art and you are a wonderful artist………thank you for sharing!

  76. Mirjam May 10 2012 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Wonderful tutorial, This will really benefit my photography.

  77. Sharon Cooke May 11 2012 at 5:21 am - Reply

    Krista! Thanks so much for these tips. I live in incredibly beautiful countryside, including stone walls, and yet I haven't really scouted locations yet. Now I feel I know how and will do.

  78. CANDIS bISHOP May 20 2012 at 10:00 am - Reply

    Why a white T-shirt instead of a reflector? I don't understand what the white T-shirt does and how it actually works I guess?

    Everything else has been a HUGE HELP! Thanks so much!

  79. Krista Campbell May 20 2012 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Candis, wearing a white t shirt acts as a natural reflector and bounces light back into your subject's face when shooting in backlight.

  80. Rhiannon May 30 2012 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Wow thank you so much for this! Great advice and perfect for me to keep in mind on shoots. I will be on the look out for 'small' beautiful locations from now on!

  81. Cassie Jun 04 2012 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    Wow! Thank you so much for this tutorial! It has encouraged and inspired me to see what stunning locations I can create near my home in the city!

  82. jodi Jun 14 2012 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    can't wait to try these ideas!

  83. Renee Aug 25 2012 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for these tips! I'm learning and I'm so glad I found this article!

  84. Katie Aug 28 2012 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    In the last photo before its edited her face is dark and then after its edited her face has a bright and beautiful color. How is this done? I have been trying to figure out and cant seem to on my own.

  85. Mary Sep 15 2012 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Gotta love the snobby comments about exposure, editing, etc…
    Beautiful work from a talented photographer and thanks for the informative article!

    • Hayley Jul 30 2016 at 9:08 pm - Reply

      Yes, as though there are absolute rules to taking photos and anyway other than what they know is the only right way.. The steps don’t matter. It’s the end product!

  86. Sherwin Oct 09 2012 at 3:35 am - Reply

    Great Tip! Thanks for sharing!

  87. Aloysius Oct 10 2012 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    Hi Krista

    How do I get a pic like the very last one. That is beautiful, the light on her face compared to the first one is amazing. Thank you for the awesome article. Share more please.

  88. Sylvia Nov 25 2012 at 3:01 am - Reply

    Reading an article with SOOC and ‘after’ photos brings me to the floor with absolute screaming joy! I am so over critical of my shots thinking they’re flat, uninteresting and most of times boring. Krista, you have changed the way I see my photos now – truthfully what is needed is a bit of PS magic. Would you share your PS techniques – what you did for your last photo for example? Would soooo love to see it! Great article – thank you!

  89. Dora Gomez Jul 15 2013 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this article. I learned so many things from it. I just discovered your page and blog. I’m a huge fan already! Your sharing of information is greatly appreciated.

  90. Miguel Hernández Nov 24 2014 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photo nice edition

  91. Olivia May 25 2015 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing! Gorgeous photos!

    Olivia @

  92. Nathan Dec 24 2015 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Love the tips! Especially the lens flare and burst overlay… Can’t wait to try it in photoshop next shoot! Thanks

  93. Kelly Sep 21 2016 at 11:16 am - Reply

    So inspiring- especially when feeling like your surroundings are getting boring. Thank you so much.

  94. sagar Sep 29 2016 at 3:38 am - Reply

    Nice… Thank You

  95. tejaswini Mar 22 2018 at 1:53 am - Reply

    Such a nice information… Thank You so much.

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