In the post I had mentioned that I didn’t know the area and that I got somewhat lucky in picking an area to shoot from. Well, I got a message on one of my social accounts that asked about how I even go about scouting for a location to shoot from. So I thought I’d write a little about it here. These are as much tips for scouting someplace you’re not familiar with, as they are tips on what you can look for when you arrive at a place you’re not familiar with.
My Breckenridge Trip Is A Good Example of Not Knowing the Area
See, my trip to Breckenridge is a great example of not knowing an area and trying to find someplace to shoot from. If for example, I showed up at Moab, Utah that’s a different story. There’s a ton of info around on where/when to shoot. But not so much for where I went. So here’s a few things that I run through in my mind whenever I go someplace unfamiliar.
1. Research online – The absolute first thing I do whenever I know I’m going somewhere is visit 500px.com and do a search for wherever I’m going to visit. Not only will you see some of the best-of-the-best photos, but there’s often stories, locations and sometimes even maps of where the photo was. It’s a great community and it’s definitely the first place I start. From there, I’ll do a Google search and also stop by Flckr.com. It didn’t help much for my trip, but it’s absolutely where to start.
2. Ask the locals – Ask around. As you check in to your hotel, ask the person at the counter if they know of any places to take pictures (I did which is how I even got pointed in the direction I went). Cab drivers can be great (and not so much, so be careful). Valets, your servers at meals, bartenders, people behind the counter in local stores, you name it. Ask around. The only thing I’ll warn you of is sometimes people want to point you to something that’s special to them or their town. They may not know what a “great” landscape photo spot is. So, let’s say you’re in a town with the oldest post office in the country. You may get pointed there by some one who is proud of that, or even has a great-great-great uncle’s roommate who helped build that post office. So try to be as specific as possible as to what you’re looking for. Point them to the mountain, lake, forest or whatever it is you’d like to have in your photo and ask if they know a good place to photograph it from.
TIP: Blog reader, Roger Trentham, left a great comment below. He said another reliable place to look for shooting locations is a camera club. A quick Google search should find any local camera clubs and an email to them may turn up a cool shooting location and even a buddy to shoot with.