Landscape Photography – Location Scouting

By David Long


As a landscape photographer, you are always looking for new locations. There are many different scenarios that create this opportunity:


  • You are headed out for a vacation and you would like to do some shooting as part of the trip
  • You are planning a vacation strictly for photography and you want to put together an itinerary
  • You live in an interesting area or there is one close by that you can put together a half day or full day trip to shoot
  • You simply want to see if there are opportunities where you live that you are not aware of to shoot
  • You know of a good location and want to shoot it under different seasons, times of day or weather



Once you decide on where you are headed and what time of year you are going to be there, my first recommendation is to search many of the different resources to see what individual locations might be worth doing a deep dive in terms of adding to the itinerary. Among these are:


  • Instagram – follow or search locations or photographers and hubs for that area that you are interested in
  • Google photographers in an area and check out their websites
  • Search photo sites for locations that you are interested in – 500px, Pixoto, Viewbug, Google Images are some of the better ones
  • Buy a book or access a site designed for photographing a specific location
  • Use some of the apps that are now available. RGPS (Really Good Photo Spots) crowd sources their images and is pretty reliable.
  • Ask local photographers that you know in the location


Before you go, you should know the following information on the location:


  • Is the location real or did someone composite multiple shots?
  • GPS and address of the parking and the location
  • Trail information including length of time, difficulty and anything unique that exists from where you park to the photo location
  • Best time of the year to visit
  • Best time of day to visit
  • Recommended conditions/weather
  • Recommended photo gear
  • Tips on how to photograph the scene



Continue to scout to know as much about this location as possible in advance of arriving utilizing these best practices:

  • Virtual scouting to see the actual site is now very possible with Google Earth
  • Virtual planning for sunrise, sunset, moon information, Milky Way positions
  • Weather apps – for short term and long term weather forecasts
  • Tide apps – high and low tides
  • Aurora apps – notification of solar activity and possible Northern Light activity
  • Wave Activity Apps – to check out when big waves are going to happen coastal locations
  • Foliage & Snow Reports – forecast for peak colors and snowfalls


Nothing beats on location scouting once you arrive or for local shoots


  • Close by locations are easy to drive by and scout
  • For more distant location, many photographers use mid-day or non-shooting hours for scouting
  • What to check out
    • Can you actually shoot the location
    • Does the location look like you thought
    • Use your apps to see what the light, water, etc. looks like
    • Use your feet to walk around and look for different angles and shots
  • Failure is OK, but learn for the next trip
  • Keep notes


If all that sounds like too much work, purchase an e-book or take a tour


  • Photo location e-books can be invaluable for finding new locations and also providing all the scouting information you need
  • Tours/workshops offer everything from:
    • Beginner’s half day workshops
    • One day local workshops
    • 2-3 day regional workshops
    • 4-8 day photo tours
  • Advantages of workshop/tours
    • Scouting is done for you
    • Experts to help you learn new techniques with your camera and how to use it
    • Provides a comfortable environment to experience new locations for the first time that you can return to again on your own


Get my New England Self-Guided Photo Workshop eBook