How to Scout the Perfect Photography Location

One of the most overlooked aspects of being a good photographer is finding that ideal location for a shoot. It can be a shoot for your personal reasons, an actual location for a professional and large-scale shoot, or even just one for your photography group.

Whatever the case, one thing’s for certain: your location enables a great image . You might be tempted to get into your vehicle and drive around for hours and hours in hopes of that perfect site, but it’s all subjective, really. That’s why scouting the perfect location is less about perfection and more about context and convenience.

Journeying Into Unfamiliar Areas

Whether you drive or walk, getting yourself to spots in your local area that you don’t often visit is almost a surefire way to find an ideal photography location. This way of scouting is really random, yet it can produce so many spectacular results because the element of surprise is at work.

Get in your car and take a deliberate, wrong turn into a neighborhood or lane that you don’t normally venture. Start looking around. Chances are that you may find the perfect spot that you never laid eyes on before, bursting full of character.

Alternatively, simply start exploring on foot. Walk around a neighborhood or down a street that you don’t really visit and look around. Take it all in, and try to imagine yourself photographing your subjects in various locales.

The Use of Technology

While Google does invade our privacy quite a bit, the upside of that relationship is that the company really does provide a bunch of stellar services to everyone from all walks of life. If you’re a photographer, using something like Google Earth can be a tremendous aid in your quest to find either a previously unknown or amazing shooting spot.

The great thing about this tool is how you’re easily able to zoom in on (really swoop down on) an area from above, giving you a great angle and perspective from which to virtually look around. This is quite helpful if you need a good landscape shot since you can view the actual shapes of the landscape.

On the other hand, something like an industrial area of town will also easily stand out, making the use of Google Earth something that comes in handy. Google Earth is available on the web or in appform.

For another example of a scouting helper, we turn to The Photographer’s Ephemeris. This service, available on the web and as an app, too, lets photographers intelligently plan outdoor photography in urban and landscape scenes. It lets you examine how the natural light will fall on any given terrain for any location in the world!

Safety Considerations

Safety has to be right at the top of the list for what makes a perfect photography location. Too many times, photographers get caught up in the pure aesthetics of where they want to shoot that they end up neglecting the very important criteria of safety in finding a location!

It’s a great idea to always inspect an area that you think will serve as a great spot for a shoot, especially if it’s an older and less traversed location, such as one for urban decay photography. At the very least, you should feel safe walking through the scene. If you don’t, then don’t bring any other people or, worse, clients to the site.

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