Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Why the location is important ?
Very often, when we talk about photography, the subjects that come up are the material, the light, the model, the pose, the editing... All these factors are important but we often forget to talk about the place, the location... (except in landscape photography of course...). It is very important because it inspires original ideas and can give a totally different dimension to your image.
Be spontaneous or prepared?
A photo shoot can be spontaneous and you can produce some very interesting photos this way. But a location planned in advance will give a direction and will allow to create something consistent. It also prevents you from making photos too simple or not very well researched. I usually plan 50% of my shoot and leave 50% to improvisation because I like to let a part of my imagination. Some people are uncomfortable when they don't control the situation, or it can be the other way around. In this case the percentage will be different, it's different for each person.
For landscape photography you can find a landscape by chance and have a beautiful picture.
But for a more elaborate photo you could prepare your session with the right day, the right time and the right weather, all from the right point of view with a thoughtful framing.
500px, Pinterest, Instagram
There are many photography websites that can help you find locations for better photo shoots.
The 500px maps allow you to look at an area and see what photographers in that area are producing. Try exploring around your home to see what other photographers are doing with the same landscapes you already know.
All this gives us new possibilities and plenty of ideas to develop.
With Instagram it' s also very easy to find locations. Many photos have location tags so you just have to click on the location to see where it is.
But you can also type the name of your city in the search bar and discover places you don't know, you can contact the photographer and see if he can share the information with you... You never know^^.
Go for a ride by car, bike, or walk...
Sometimes the best way to find places for photo shoots is to just get in your car and drive. So get out and take roads you don't normally go on. Take small, empty roads, often there are surprises.
Walking is very useful to find URBEX places because they are places that was not indicated on the internet to avoid being vandalized.
Cycling also allowed me to find many beautiful places because you don't take the same roads as in a car and you don't have the same view as when you drive. The best thing is to go to a place by car and to walk around to discover what there is around.
For example this picture above was taken in a place with big concrete pipes, it was in the middle of the forest behind my house. I could never have found this place otherwise than by walking in the forest (I pass it every day with my dog).
Maps like Google maps
Often for my researches I look on google maps, the street view allows me to locate places close to a road or to check the accessibility of certain places. The parks are often good to start with and sometimes there are some nice surprises.
Architecture and street art are also interesting, because most cities will have unique buildings and interesting statues along the streets. You might make some nice discoveries!
It is beneficial to get out of your comfort zone! Challenge yourself to find new places to photograph in your area. No matter where you live in the world, you can use these resources to search and discover hidden places. Finding out what others have done and putting your own spin on it can be not only fun, but also very rewarding. It allows you to push your limits and not be satisfied with something too simple that others have already thought of before you.
For me, these research steps are necessary, they help me to find a lot of interesting places that are just around the corner.
If you have a different method, let me know in the comments.
Good day and good research.