Searching for the perfect photo-spot can be tough and time consuming. A luxury that a travel photographer can’t afford. You want to spend your time abroad with travel photography and not in front of your laptop. Due to that, it’s essential to do your research and planning beforehand. Otherwise you can easily miss some of the best photo locations.
For me, research is one of the most important parts of photography. Nearly 80% of my pictures are planned. The reason for that is based on creativity: if I know what to shoot, I can spend more time with the composition itself. This article is based on my personal workflow and offers you 5 tips to find the best photo-spots.
What do you plan to shoot?
The first step is the most important one. You should always think about your own preferences. Are you looking for a landscape location? Or do you want to picture architecture? When do you want to shoot? During sunrise? In the evening? Is it even allowed to shoot in this area?
These questions sound quite easy, but help you to get a first framework for your shot. Even the weather forecast can play an important role during your trip. Remember: time is limited, so be prepared!
Get a first impression
Nearly every area has some major attractions for photographers. They give you a feeling for the local structure and a first impression for your composition. At least you can find several tips of other photographers and tourists who already visited these photo-spots.
A great possibility to start is google. The search bar offers the most popular results and plenty of pictures. If you don’t know the exact region, look out for facebook groups. There are just a few high quality shots, but sometimes people offer some information about secret photo-spots.
Example: I wanted to some landscape shots in South Germany. I decided to google bavaria in general. The result: Neuschwanstein Castle.
Collect different ideas
After the first two tips, you should have an idea about the location you want to shoot. The next step includes some creative ideas. If you have a specific location, for example a lake, try to find pictures from different angles and positions. This part of the research saves time at the location and opens your mind for creativity.
Platforms for specific research are Instagram, 500px and flickr. All of them offer professional shots of travel photographers and creative ideas of tourists. Perfect, to create an own composition in your head.
Besides the castle, I wanted to take some lake shots. 500px offered me some nice photo-spots close to Neuschwanstein.
Discover your Photo-Spot
Most of the web pictures don’t offer explicit information about the original photo-spot. The problem: you need this information to save time during your trip. Just imagine a morning shoot with a beautiful sunrise. You would arrive at night without any clou where to go.
A good way to check the location beforehand is google maps. If you start with the satellite card, it’s quite easy to discover the best photo-spot at the lake. Due to that, you can use apps like Sun Surveyor to locate the exact place of the sunrise for orientation.
Google Maps offered me a closer look at the lake. The Alpsee is surrounded by a path (red) from which I could shoot straight into the sunlight (yellow).
Push your Creativity
The last tip is the one that differs a good travel photographer from a great travel photographer. You can do as much research as you want, when you don’t use your environment for you own picture it’s a nothing else than a copy of an existing photo.
Use your own creativity and look around. Use the light, objects or anything else to create a unique shot. All the previous tips safe yourself time, you can use at the location to make a difference in your photograph.
As you can imagine, all these steps implement lots of research. At the end you need to decide for yourself if its worse the effort. But don’t forget: do you want several good shots or one award winning photo?
During my walk along the lake, I discoverd a nice photo-spot with a lot of snow. The piece of wood in the foreground completed my composition and I got my perfect shot.