10 Tips to Find Photo Spots

Finding places to take good photos can be difficult, here are some simple tricks for photographers to make it easier.

Doing the research to find photo places can be a frustrating and challenging task. In fact, most landscape photographers probably spend more time scouting and researching locations than shooting. When travelling, finding great photo locations can be even harder without local knowledge of the best places to shoot Thankfully, there are several websites and apps available that make finding places to shoot a breeze.

1. Find Photo Spots with Google Images

While it may seem obvious, when it comes to finding photo spots, there may be no better source than the mighty Google. But for the photographer, having the ability to search just for images about a place makes the task of finding suitable places to shoot even easier. Before going somewhere new, type in the name of the city or town you’ll be visiting into the Google Images search box and see what comes up. This technique is one of the easiest ways to discover the most popular and iconic shooting locations for a city, village or town.

2. Explore the Flickr Photo Map

Flickr has gone through its ups and downs. Initially, one of the best and most popular photo-sharing sites on the web, it has struggled to find its footing in a mobile-first digital age. Despite the site’s challenges, it remains an excellent resource for scouting photo locations on the web. Before heading out to a new place, search the name of the area in Flickr and see what comes up. Flickr also has an interactive map where geotagged photos will appear. The downside of this is that there is no filtering mechanism, and many users quite often geotag pictures of birds, cats, and other things that move.

3. Find Photo Locations with PIXEO

PIXEO is one of the newer tools that makes it easy to find photo places. The website focuses on sharing user-submitted photos that have been geotagged and displaying them on a world map. Anyone can peruse these photo places and see the exact location where each photo was taken. One of the most significant benefits of PIXEO is that its staff verifies each submission to ensure the accuracy of the geoinformation and relevancy to the photographic community. The web map is free but has a limited number of locations, and their app boasts over 20,000 global locations and is available only as a subscription service (Currently $0.99 a month or $9.99 a year). The app is only available for iPhone users at the moment.

4. Find a Photo Spot with ShotHotSpot

ShotHotSpot permits its users to search for a location and then browse photos on a map similar to PIXEO. It’s unclear if ShotHotSpot is still being maintained, however, as the site appears quite dated. As well, most of the content on the site is scraped from Flickr, so it can be hit and miss when it comes to accuracy and quality of locations.

5. Discover Instagram Photo Spots

While Instagram is not the best for discovering new photo spots to shoot, it is very beneficial for seeing current and up to date shots of a known location. These benefits include useful info like weather conditions at a site, inconveniences like construction and other helpful info. As well, the varying angles taken by Instagram users can provide some inspiration and aid in planning your shoot.

6. Find Photo Hot Spots on Google Maps

Google maps is an excellent tool for finding natural wonders, parks and other great shooting locations. Since the addition of Streetview, many very kind folks have also started taking georeferenced 360-degree view photos. One of the best techniques for scouting an area is to drag the small little person icon onto a map and to see where the little blue circles appear. Where these circles begin to cluster is very likely to be a beautiful or exciting location. As well, being able to put yourself into the 360-degree sphere is a great way to get a sense of the photo spot and what equipment you should bring.

Atlas Obscura self describes itself as the definitive guide to the world’s hidden wonders. It is almost like a Ripley’s Believe it or Not for destinations, where adventure seekers can find weird, wacky and fascinating locations around the world. While not specifically tailored to photographers, you can find photo spots on this site that may be a bit outside the box. Be sure to check out their web map, which is almost as fun to browse as their articles are to read.

8. Explore Unsplash and Other Stock Imagery Sites

Stock imagery sites such as Unsplash are also great tool to find photo spots to shoot. Doing a search for stock imagery about a place you will be visiting will not only show you the iconic landmarks of the area but also show you a wide variety of angles, treatments and more to inspire you for your shoot. The challenge can be that a lot of sites like Unsplash are a bit thin on the information about a file and even more rarely do the photographers share where they took a photo.

9. Find a Photo's Location with TinEye and Reverse Google Image Searches

Find a photo on the web that you think is amazing and want to know where it is? Sites like TinEye and reverse Image Searches can help narrow down a photo place. Quite often, you will discover fantastic photos on the web that give no clues as to where the pic was taken. Uploading or copying the images URL into these sites will scour the internet for other instances where the photo is in use. Quite often, where a picture is in use will be on a page where they are talking about the location. As well, even if the particular photo does not come up, some clues about the photo spot can be found in visually similar images. This can help nail down where your next bucket list photo destination will be.

10. Go For a Drive and Find a New Photo Location

Shot of car driving down the road with GPS in view - Photo by Kirsi Färm
Going for a drive off the beaten track is a sure fire way to find photo places. - Photo by Kirsi Färm

Sometimes the best way to find excellent photoshoot spots near you is the old fashioned method of going for a drive. Taking back roads and side streets will almost always lead to some new and undiscovered photo place. One of the best tricks to do this is to take the long way to wherever you might be going. Sometimes getting off the mundane superhighways will lead you to some long-forgotten photo spot. Whether it is a run-down old barn or the rustic charm of a small town along a route that used to be the main highway. Life is short, but not so short you can’t take the time to go the long way home.

Get Out There

Photography is about challenging yourself to explore more and find unique places and moments that speak to you. Having techniques for finding good places to take photos is essential to spend less time at home searching, and more time out in the world shooting. If you’ve got any extra ideas to add or want to share some of your tips for finding photo locations, leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!