How to find new Outdoor Locations to Photograph

Recently I sat down with one of my past students for a portfolio review & mentoring session, (awesome work Ken!! ). We got to chatting about some of the strategies I use when I am trying to find new locations to photograph. So I thought I would write a post about my process.

Medford, Nova Scotia.

Just like anyone, sometimes all I have is to jump into my car at the last minute and drive to see what I can find. But a lot of those times I am scrambling to chase the light, trying to come up with a interesting location at the last minute and hoping something will turn my way when I get there.

So for me, I rely on good old fashioned “Research & Planning” to find new and interesting locations to photograph. I call it my 70/30 rule,  70% planning and 30% taking photos. Using “Research & Planning" for your Outdoor Photography continues the concepts of my previous post, The Importance of knowing Sun & Moon position in your Photography.

Uniacke Estate Museum Park, Nova Scotia

My go to starting point are local hiking trail sites and adventure blogs. A lot of the times these sites give accounts of places that are rich with biodiversity, natural wonders and describe interesting things to see. These sites can be a launching point to find amazing things to photograph.

Gaff Point Trail, "the secret beach"  Nova Scotia

Here are my top 5 online resources I look to when I am seek new locations to photograph.

  1. Trail is still my number one go to site. This site has such a vast number of detailed listings; hiking trails, natural attractions, waterfalls, slot canyons, biking trails, canoeing routes, etc.  Almost all of the listings have photos, GPS coordinates, Topo maps, and even some videos. 
  2. Local hiking trail association websites. These associations usually showcase their own trails in great detail.  This detailed information can be a huge asset to helping you find and plan out what you want to photograph.
  3. Google Search, Google Maps, Google Image search. By simply typing in a simple key phrase like “Cape Split, Nova Scotia hiking trail”, you will find a multitude of information and photographs of any given area. All this information can help you pre-visualize what you want to photograph.
  4. Local explorer blogs & Youtube channels-  For me this goes in hand with a relevant google search. I will usually come across someone that has a fantastic site that describes their recent and past outdoor adventures.
  5. Instagram - if you're not on Instagram, give it a try it’s free.  When you are using the app you can type in location names in the search bar then the Instagram app will show you a multitude of perspectives from the area you are looking to explore.

You might be thinking that all this planning is taking the fun out of exploring a new location.

However, taking the time to Plan & Research your outdoor photography allows you to be more creative when you are in the moment of being there.  Your creative process can truly flourish when you are free from the small details of wondering what could be better around the next corner, so you can focus on the real creative process of being present in the moment.

If you are in the Nova Scotia area, here a just a few sites I recommend you checkout. Of course there a many more amazing sites to see.  I just wanted to list a few to get you started on the process of planning your next photo adventure.

Having said all this, still one of the best ways to find new places to photograph is to get out photographing with other photographers.  There are so many wonderful photo clubs, meet-ups, hiking groups and photo workshops in almost any city or town. 

Thank you for taking the time read my post and remember with a bit of “Research & Planning” you will find new places and adventures to photograph.

Cheers & keep taking photos. :)