The world is a big place with lots of beautiful scenery and cities for us to explore and take pictures and videos. As you prepare your next trip, you may be wondering how and where do I find those awesome photos and how do you seek them out?
I know many of us love to explore and find random surprises during our holidays to photograph. Now that’s a great buzz when you chance to come across an unusual and interesting place to take a few pictures. It happens to me often, yet I also plan some of those chance photo occurrences and so should you.
You might think if you do some research and plan out a shoot list of locations you’d like to visit that the freeform spontaneity of the travel adventure is lost. But not at all; it’ll happen anyway on top of going to planned locations. You will just have better odds of getting enough content for your travelogue slideshow/video or photo album.
With just an hour or two of photo research you can plan to find whatever type of content interests you on your holidays.
This kind of homework really is very easy and actually entertaining
to leisurely browse websites, books, videos…
Before the internet I was often looking at coffee table books, maps and guide books on the country and locations I was to visit looking for clues and nice photos I could check out. A favorite trick was to browse through the stands of postcards upon arriving somewhere to see what other pro photographers had shot as famous landmarks of the area.
You can still do that these days though there are a lot fewer postcard stands around. Actually with the advent of the internet it has gotten so much better and easier to seek out those popular and hidden destinations online.
Study the images you find that appeal to your interests and shooting style. Figure what or where the camera position was and time of day/year. There are many clues in a picture to help you out.
But I encourage you to be yourself and not plagiarize the photographer. Find your own way of photographing the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben or the Pyramids. Iconic shots are hard to be different, and therein is the challenge. Discover a new and fresh way to show it.
Photo Destination Resources
Travelers – Start with your family, neighbors, or people you work with who may have been somewhere worth photographing. You could also look into photo and travel clubs, meet ups and online communities that chat about countries you’re interested in as a source.
Books – An old favorite that still works, is buying a travel guide book as a reference for your trip that has lots of great images. Borrow library books of great photographers who travel the world — they have done the homework.
Paper Maps – Detailed maps like the Michelin series of maps can reveal hidden roads to get to mountain tops, seashores or the edge of canyons. Some have symbols for lookouts, observation towers and pull offs by the highway; all good to plan day loops from your hotel.
Travel Brochures – This was the way we used to get our info before the dawn of the internet and it still can be beneficial once at your destination. Often small businesses with interesting activities can get you to great photo locations, caving, ballooning, rock climbing, rafting… You might not find them online because they do not have a site or they come up on page 23 when you search.
Internet > Where do I start?!
This resource has changed everything with endless traveling for the armchair surfer. There are many great sites so here are a few top suggestions that come to mind to get you started:
Google/ Bing / Yahoo Images – Well this one’s an obvious source for photo opportunities. Now you have to weed through a lot of mediocre photos to zero in on your hunt. Naturally you can follow the link of the photo to all sorts of sites that may reveal other image and location details.
Google / Bing / Yahoo Maps – This would be my favorite in that you can plan a route on your holidays and find out what might be in the area you visit. Zooming in and out on the map gives you plenty of detail in many modes. Check out the terrain, or look at satellite photos, as zooming gives you different perspectives on where you might go.
Go to street level view. Check out 360 degree panoramas of famous locations and even now interiors of museums and churches. Wow! You can even add your photos later to this collection.
Flickr – One of the largest photo communities out there. Many top professional photographers and great amateur shooters too. Try searching with keywords or explore their map for ideas.
Video – Travel destination videos are great for research and also entertaining. They can be bought or borrowed…and then you have the vast amount online – start with YouTube but even better ones are at Vimeo to check out.
Other websites to look into:
And there are Phone Apps for travel photographers too – lots! (But that’s another future blog.)
So you see, with all the wonderful resources out there, you likely will never have enough time to research and then shoot everything on your list. Happens to me all the time.
What also plays into the equation is the weather, time of day and time of year you go.
Also the quality of your picture taking and video clips depends on your equipment and your skill.
And let’s throw in the element of luck. Yup, sometimes what might have seemed as a sure winner of a location does not pan out. The light was not right or the weather misbehaved.
Or even the building is gone, or there was a forest fire and the park has changed completely, perhaps a fence was built that now blocks your shot. Anything can happen, but then you do have a list and tomorrow is another day in that photo adventure.
Good huntin’ to ya!
If you have any tips or links you wish to share, please send me a comment below.