Much like explorers, photographers long to stumble upon a place (or a feel of a place) that’s yet to be discovered. A unique rush not much compares with the feeling of spotting a location that flies under the radar for the most part. Perhaps that’s why a lot of photographers are reluctant to reveal their secret photoshoot places—finding a spot, a corner or even a wall can be really difficult in our visually crowded world. But with this said, how would you find such locations for yourself? This is where the current state of the world might actually be of use. Let us explain.
With travel being more limiting, photographers all over the world have really utilized the opportunity to explore locations in their own hometowns. Slow travel and staycations have really seen a rise, with many scouting for new beautiful new perspectives that remain mostly local.
Here are a few tips on how to find hidden gems of your own.
Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk
Browse Google Street View
As it so often does, Google has some answers for you. To scout for barely discovered photography locations, you can use Google to do a bit of online research (keeping in mind, of course, the parameters for what you’re seeking). For instance, if you’re looking for industrial buildings for a photo shoot, be sure to enter that into your search. If you’re a travel photographer seeking unconventional urban locations, let that be your criteria. Try being as specific as possible, but be open to getting more general to widen the net and your horizons. Additionally, there are a good amount of websites and books about strange or abandoned locations, all of which are like a goldmine to photographers. When you do stumble upon an off-the-beaten-track location, be sure to check all safety precautions to ensure a safe exploration and return.
Use Social Media
As you would traveling to another country, check social media for interesting and non-touristy spots in your own hometown. The results might actually surprise you—there could be a quirky cafe, skate park, or sculpture you’ve never thought of photographing before. Plus, while you’re at it, browse for locations outside our city or in the suburbs; spots like that are great for authentic lifestyle imagery. Beyond platforms like Instagram, Facebook has tons of local photography groups that you can join too. And while they might not always be up for sharing all their secrets, online communities in your region might really aid your search.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? And yet, there aren’t many photographers that do this. Most just scour the web, scan forums, and Facebook groups, and explore on their own. Instead of falling into familiar patterns, try walking into a small local store and asking the clerk if they have any favorite places in town; ones that will serve as great photoshoot places or simply have a fantastic view. Reach out to people you know for places they cannot help but return to, and if they’d be willing to take you there sometime.
Photo by Clarisse Meyer
Break Out of Your Routine
Do you have one specific way you drive home to work? How about a shortcut that gets you to your friend’s house in no time? All these carefully carved out routes serve us inconvenience, but they should most definitely fly out the window when searching for cool photography locations. Plan ahead to take a different route, and really take in your surroundings as you drive by. Pay special attention to things like texture, lights and shadows, color tones and combinations, and places that are easily accessed from the road. Use this designated time to explore, make spontaneous stops, and snap some quick sample photos to have on file for future reference.
Create an Assignment
Aimless wandering is not everyone’s thing. It can often be overwhelming to just get in a car and drive without knowing what exactly you’re searching for. To make things easier for yourself, create a purpose for these trips by narrowing down a specific type of location you’re looking for that day. Perhaps you’ve set ut to find cool graffiti or a secluded spot near some kind of body of water. Even a general theme will do. Point is, that having a goal in mind can give some method to the madness. Looking for rustic and open spaces? Head out of the city and start scouting for wide-open land. Want to capture something urban and gritty. Head straight into the heart of town and capture the commotion.
Ditch the Car
Physically walking around in an area you’ve already scouted is going to be endlessly more productive than driving around. It creates a much more intimate feel of the place, as details begin to reveal themselves in places you wouldn’t possibly be able to notice from a car window. This kind of one-on-one with nature, urban environments, and abandoned buildings is going to do wonders for your creativity and the conceptual stages of your photoshoot.
Photo by Henri Meilhac
Find a Local Business That’ll Benefit
Exposure is an extremely valuable thing to a business; especially when we are talking about smaller, local businesses. And when you’re trying to unlock lesser-known places and perspectives in your hometown, what better place to go to than a small business. If you manage to find a business that is willing to let you photograph their interior, working mode, or product, the ‘transaction’ will be mutually beneficial. You’ll find the unique photography location you were searching for, and, in turn, will help the local business with social media/online exposure.
Keep a Record
Remembering undiscovered locations is almost as important as finding them. Try out different systems to keep a tally of the spots you like—narrow them down to what type of work they might be suited for, whether they have any outstanding characteristics, etc. Google Maps is probably most recommended because it lets you mark locations on a map and add notes.
All in all, the art of finding a secluded corner in your hometown may not always prove an easy feat, but it’s definitely rewarding. You get the chance of introducing this location to the world, showcasing it from perspectives that have not yet been seen…Who knows, these photos might even help you break into the stock photography game and sell stock photos with Wirestock.