So, you have the photography skills, the right equipment, and a burning desire to get out there and shoot. But you might be asking yourself, “Where are all the good places to take pictures near me?”
A great location can inspire you and help you capture photos you can be proud of. Here are some tips on how to find great photo locations in your area.
Apps and Websites
There is a wide variety of apps and websites designed to help you find great photography places near you. Here are a few of the best, along with the pros and cons of each.
ShotHotspot is a super useful search engine for finding great places to take pictures. All you have to do is enter your location in the search bar, and you’ll get a map of popular photo spots in the area. Along with the map, you’ll see ratings for all of the different hotspots and examples of photos that were taken there.
The website uses location data from images on sites like Flickr to automatically figure out the most popular photo locations. Users can also identify new hotspots, or add information and comments to existing ones. In addition, when you’re browsing the hotspot map for your area, you can filter locations by type such as architecture, abandoned, wildlife, and more—it’s a very useful feature.
On the downside, the way the site automatically updates hotspots with new photos means there’s a chance that photos can end up in the wrong location. That means you could head out to a hotspot looking for something you spotted in a photo, only to realize it was taken somewhere else.
Even with that caveat, this website is the perfect starting point for finding good places to take pictures near you. It is also completely free to use.
PIXEO is an iPhone app and website that provides a map of popular photography places. The locations are based on information and photos submitted by users and each location gets reviewed by PIXEO staff. As a result, it doesn’t have the same coverage around the world as ShotHotspot, but you can be more confident that photos aren’t ever being mislabeled with the wrong locations. It’s free to browse the map online, but the iPhone app costs $3 per month following a 30-day free trial.
Google Earth (not to be confused with Google Maps) can also be a useful tool for scouting photo places near you. Its 3D view mode lets you check out your area in great detail while also giving you an idea for the elevation of different locations. The Street View will also let you get right down to eye level.
Additionally, the time slider will let you see how sunlight falls across the landscape at different times of the day and show you where shadows will fall. This can help you avoid going out to a location only to discover your planned photo shoot is ruined by a building’s shadow.
Instagram can also be a useful tool for scouting places to take pictures near you. You can type a street name or address into the search bar to see what locations and landmarks pop up. When you click on one of those results, you can see the most recent photos posted from that location.
Since Instagram is very popular and users tend to upload their photos soon after they take them, sometimes you can get a glimpse of what is happening in the moment. You might discover there’s an event happening in your area that you didn’t know about, and the photos may give you some inspiration for your own photo shoot.
Reach Out to Local Photographers
Asking other photographers in your area about their suggestions for locations is a great idea. They may even be willing to share some hidden photography places near you that you won’t find on location scouting apps. Just don’t forget to pay them back by offering up some good locations that you come across!
The easiest way to connect with other local photographers is by finding them online. For example, try Googling the name of a city followed by “Facebook photography groups”. That should give you some options to get started.
Another way to meet photographers in your area is by attending photography workshops and classes. They can be great opportunities to meet a bunch of local photographers at once. Sometimes, these classes are offered for free through community centers, so do some research on what’s available in your area.
For more ideas on how to tap into the local photography community, check out this guide: Navigating the Arts Community in a New City.
Force Yourself to Explore
This may be obvious, but a good way to find new places to take pictures near you is to just get out there and start exploring. Some photographers say that simply going to an unfamiliar location can spark their creativity.
However, it can be hard to know where to start. You might not have time to wander aimlessly or drive into the sunset in the hopes of stumbling across something good. So here are some ideas on how to fit a little exploration into your schedule.
Change your routine by taking a different route than usual. Whether you are going to or from work, a friend’s place, or the gym, straying from your normal path may lead you to find nearby photography locations you never knew were there.
Try leaving the car at home and walking (when possible). It will give you the time to take in your surroundings. You may spot some nice places to take pictures that you’ve overlooked in the past.
Try Some Different Types of Photography
You might be overlooking some great places to take pictures near you simply because you are seeing them with the wrong frame of mind. One way to greatly expand your options and find new locations is to experiment with different types of photography.
For instance, if you don’t usually shoot architectural photography, you’ve probably been walking right past plenty of excellent photo opportunities in your area. To remedy that, you could look at a guide to architectural photography online. That will help get you thinking like an architectural photographer. The next time you’re out and about, it may seem like you’re seeing things with fresh eyes and you’ll find new places to take photos around every corner.
The same goes for any style of photography. Try to get outside of your comfort zone and experiment with something new. Here are just a few different types of photography you could try:
Get Inspired by Other Photographers’ Work
Another way to start seeing photography from a new point of view is by checking out the work of photographers in other genres. Even when you are looking at the work of photographers from halfway around the world, their work may give you fresh ideas that you can apply in your area.
For example, check out these awesome photography blogs, as well as these must-subscribe YouTube channels for photographers. They include photos, tutorials, and inspiration videos from photographers in a variety of fields. By listening to their suggestions, it may give you a new perspective on the places to take pictures near you.
What to Do Once You Find a Place to Shoot
Here are some tips on what to do once you’ve gathered some potential photoshoot locations. These tools will help you keep track of your finds and decide on the best time to go.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris
The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a mobile app and website that can provide you with very detailed information about how natural light will fall on your potential photo shoot locations. Once you choose a spot on the map, you can use a time slider to see the direction and altitude of the sun and moon throughout the day. You can also choose a date in the future to plan out your photo shoots well in advance. In addition, it has a timeline that lets you skip to important times like sunrise, sunset, or the next moon phase event (useful for quickly finding the next full or new moon). The web-based version is free to use and the mobile versions start at $3.99.
The My Maps feature on the Google Maps website is great for keeping track of your planned photography locations. It will let you add pins and labels to mark the locations and include any notes that you want to remember for each of them. You can use the notes to remind yourself of things like the best times to shoot there or ideas you have for specific shots.
Also, My Maps will make it easy to plan out your route if you plan on shooting at multiple locations on the same day.
Show off Your Results
Now that you’ve found some nice places to take pictures near you, don’t be shy about showing off your results. If you’re posting them on Instagram, make sure you use the right hashtags so other photographers can see them (this will also help you get more followers).
And don’t forget to upload them to your online photography portfolio so potential clients can see your skills.
Want to see more about finding good places to take pictures? Check out these guides!
5 Photographers Share Their Favorite Photography Locations
18 Landscape Photographers Who Will Inspire You to Get Outside
20 Travel Photography Portfolios From Around the World