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Developing a locations database

I photograph a lot of things. And sometimes, that means I need to pick a location. Over the years, I’ve photographed hundreds of locations, and have done quite a bit of research. So what’s the best way to build a database of these places, so I can have easy access to see where might be best for an upcoming photoshoot?

Things to remember

When photographing for your locations database, there’s a few things to remember. First and foremost, if you can, take multiple photos of a spot. Shoot different angles, and shoot different times of day.

Secondly, shoot with a GPS-enabled camera or phone. This will make it so your photos will easily appear on a map, or in a photo editing program like Lightroom.

Tools to get the job done

Lightroom Classic

For your own photos, using a tool like Lightroom Classic will allow you to put your photos on a map, so you can easily see where they were taken. You can then select each point in the Map module, and see exactly which images fit that location. In the Map module, I choose the Road Map view, as this allows me a clear view of exactly where the location in my city.

Furthermore, if you’re in a different module in Lightroom, you can click the map marker on a photo’s thumbnail to see where the location is on the map.

If your camera or device doesn’t save location data, you can still manually position the images on the map. In this case, keep notes on the address or location name on your phone.

Once you have the location data set for your photographs, you can create catalogs based on location. Simple click on the map point (which will automatically select the applicable images), and then click the + button next to Collections. Make sure that Include Selected Photos is checked, and your photos will be added to the collection automatically.

Once you do this, your location data will also be brought over when you upload your images to a service like Flickr or 500px, offering you a quick way to search locations when you don’t have your Lightroom catalog in front of you. Note that map functionality is not currently available with Lightroom CC — only Classic (though CC will allow you to filter through a list of locations).

Really Good Photo Spots

While it’s a little outdated, the Really Good Photo Spots app (free, iOS) is a great way to record your photographs. The app allows you to take a photograph through the app, or upload a geotagged photo that you already have handy. It also allows you to give the location a title, and put in some notes that you can reference later.

It also pulls from a database of images, so you can search for a specific city and location to see what spots might interest you.

PhotoMap Gallery

Free for Android devices, PhotoMap Gallery groups your photos automatically, and lets you sort by location. You can also start a diary of sorts, highlighting your photos and allowing you to take notes.

The Photo Map

This basically takes the idea behind Lightroom’s Map module and puts it into a separate application for Mac computers. It costs $2.99, but it is very easy to use. The Photo Map lets you select photos from either your Photos application library, or load them in from a specific folder.


While this is a web-only solution, ShotHotspot utilizes popular sites like Flickr and Panoramio to build a location database of popular areas around the world. You can sign up and add your own hotspot, or just browse to see what else is out there. The nice part is you’re able to filter by type of location, so you don’t get that grungy background when you’re really looking for a waterfall.


Keeping a location database is important, as it allows us to quickly access where we took a series of photographs. It helps with things like location scouting and also in terms of finding photos down the road. What other tools do you enjoy using?

Photo by Tabea Damm on Unsplash

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