Whether you are a professional or amateur photographer one thing you probably face often is where to shoot.  Sometimes I get the urge to go out and shoot but I draw a blank on good photography spots.  So I have a photography spot scouting process I follow.  It is not actually a formal process, but more of a way to keep track of places I may want to shoot someday.

You will need a few tools for this, but nothing too fancy is required.

1) A notepad.  If you want to get high tech a tablet device such as an iPad works great.

2) A point and shoot camera.  Again, nothing fancy required.  Just a basic point and shoot or even your cell phone camera will do.

The “process”:

You can either do this deliberately or just keep track as you go about your daily life.  Or, better yet, do both.

This is really simple.  Take an hour or two on a weekend and just head out with the above tools in hand.  Where you head will depend on what you like to shoot.  Architecture?  Head to your city’s downtown or try something different like and industrial area of town.  Portraits?  Just about anywhere will do.  Landscapes?  Pick a direction and take a drive.

Then just keep an eye out for anything that strikes your interest and take notes. For each location or potential subject that you think you might want to come back to write down the following:

  1. Location.  Make sure you are specific enough that you will be able to find it again later.
  2. Angles and potential compositions.  Where were you standing when it looked best? How might you frame it?  What surrounding elements will you want to include in the image?
  3. Lighting.  What direction does the subject face?  Will sunrise lighting or sunset lighting be optimal for photographing it?  What are the shadows like?
  4. Challenges.  What potential problems might you encounter when you come back to photograph?  Are there crowds? Will the leaves have lost all their leaves?  Is there construction now that may be gone later?
  5. All the rest.  If you think it will matter to your photograph make a note of it.
  6. Finally, take a few quick shots with the point and shoot just to give yourself something visual to come back to.

Now you have a documentation of someplace you can come back to either when the mood to photograph strikes or when you have a client looking for a unique location.  And as you build your list you will have a catalog of shoot locations to go to whenever the need arises.

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