There are people who’s sole job is to find great locations. If you’re not on a commercial shoot and can’t afford to hire a location scout, never fear! Let’s go through a few places to find great locations.
Instagram is one of the most popular photo sharing apps in the world. Users can upload photos and tag their location. Although this app is for mobile phones, there is a website that can show you a limited version of Instagram called Websta. When you visit http://websta.me/, you can type in the area or location you’re looking for and see images from other users.
On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, I set out to photograph a new fireworks show. I know the park inside and out, but I wasn’t exactly sure where the best angle would be. Rather than waste a night watching the show and trying to move through the crowds, I decided to pull up Instagram and look for the fireworks show. In Instagram, I just searched for #FrozenFireworks and thousands of results popped up. It seemed like most people stood directly in front of the display, but I wanted a unique angle. After searching through a couple here’s images, I found a location to the side of the show with a great foreground to complement the show and it created some wonderful images.
Chamber of Commerce / Film Offices
Any time you shoot in a major city, you should have permission to be there. This is done through applying for permits with a local city office. Most people don’t know that these offices also keep a photo archive of popular locations and can help you find that perfect spot.
Stuck on Earth
World-famous travel photographer Trey Ratcliff, of StuckinCustoms.com, developed a mobile app called Stuck on Earth. Using Google Maps and Flickr, Stuck on Earth lets you search the world for photo destinations and shows you images from Flickr users who provide GPS data. Unlike Instagram, you don’t have to search with any specific keywords. Let’s say you’re visiting the Florida Keys… Just pinch and zoom the map to the Florida Keys and popular images will start to appear. As you zoom closer, you’ll see more and more user images pop up all across the islands. Trey’s images are filtered in throughout the app and the development team is always picking their favorite images from across the world to help you find the most photogenic destination.
Download Stuck on Earth here
Ask a friend or a fellow photographer
Let’s not forget the best way to find a perfect location . . . Ask a friend or fellow photographer. Engage in conversation and trades stories. You never know who you might be sitting next to.
Once you’ve found your perfect location, you’ll have to find out the sun pattern in the area for picking what time of day to shoot. There are a number of places to so this, both apps and websites. My favorite website is SunCalc (www.suncalc.net).
Also, theres a popular app for iOS and Android called Sun Seeker. It uses GPS and magnetometer to find the correct solar position and path for your current location. You can find out sun position for over 40,000 cities, or custom locations and choose any date to view the solar path for that day. You can download Sun Seeker here . . . iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sun-seeker-3d-augmented-reality/id330247123?mt=8; Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ajnaware.sunseeker&hl=en)
Those are some of my favorite ways to scour the web for the perfect location. I don’t think the best locations should be kept secret because everybody can see the same place differently. Be sure to share in the comments if you have any tips for finding great locations. We learn the most from each other!Be sure to follow Nick for more photo and video updates!