I am always asked by photographers at some point or another how do I find my locations? My initial response is always, “I get in my car and just drive.” Then to my surprise I always seem to hear dead silence on the receiving end. It is not hard to do, but you must be dedicated to your craft and many times that means taking the time to do the small tasks that give you great reward.
I initially started this road to venue and location searches because I did not have a studio. All of my sessions had to held outdoors. (at least that’s what I thought) But after many years and lots of practice, I know that I can shoot almost anywhere that I am allowed. Smile
As a result of the questions from photographers and clients who feel they are obligated to find their own location here are some helpful techniques and ideas on how to resolve your location challenge.
Fill up you tank and drive! I plan every other month to get in my car and drive. I usually block out 1 to 2 hours a month to go outside my normal driving area to find new exciting places. I also check these same locations out during different times of the day. Carry a friend so they can help track the places by writing them down or make sure you carry along a notepad or use an app on your phone to make sure you don’t forget the address. I like to bring a friend along for the ride to keep me company as well as a second pair of eyes so that I can be sure to see potential photography opportunities.
#2 LOCAL MAGAZINES
Magazines and Guide or travel books might seem a little strange but they are a great resource for ideas. Go to your local motel or hotel and grab a handful of magazines and get to searching. Once you have found some interesting places, go online and look up the area of interest and let your mind create.
#3 GOOGLE MAPS
Google Maps as well as Google Earth and Google’s Street View are excellent tools that are great for getting locations. It is crucial that you try different key words. You will be surprised what pops up.
#4 FACEBOOK PAGES
One of the most unlikely ways that I have discovered new or unique locations have been from Facebook pages that are solely dedicated to abandoned homes and buildings. Please understand this is not a suggestion to go out and get on property that is not authorized, with no permission, or that is dangerous. It is just to give you ideas of areas that surround them as well as giving you opportunity to request permission from the owners of the land or building in question.
Also there are many Facebook groups that have photowalks. Not only do you get to network and meet new people but you also get to hear and see of other locations that you may be able to use. Get your notes ready and write these places down. For some reason photographers are so guarded and many will not tell you the “PRIVATE” property that they have found and invaded. It is ok, move on… one day you can repay the favor.
#5 ONLINE SEARCHES
Finally, doing online searches and use a variety of key words such as Warehouse, Indoor Venues, Outdoor Venues, Wedding Venues, and Parks are starting points. These searches may sound very general and generic but think about scouting around these areas as well. But always remember do not trespass, do not use railroad track dead or live. These are not safe and are private properties.