If you enjoy landscape photography, you’re probably always on the lookout for new places to photograph. While there is no shortage of great options for photography trips, finding the best spots in your local area can be more challenging at times.
Local photography spots are obviously easier and cheaper to reach, plus you can photograph them more often. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to travel far and wide to produce a great landscape photography portfolio, but knowing the best locations near you can be a big key.
When I first became interested in landscape photography, I thought there weren’t very many noteworthy locations near my home. But as I’ve put more effort into finding new locations, I’ve come across so many more than I ever expected.
Before we get into the specific methods that you can use, I’d like to mention that you should have a method for keeping track of the locations that you find. I’m always looking for new locations in my home state of Pennsylvania and I actually use two different methods to keep track of the places that I find.
First, I put all of the locations into a spreadsheet and I also copy the URL of the website where I found the location, if I found it through a website. Second, I use a custom Google Map to track all of the locations. This is extremely helpful because whenever I am planning a trip to a specific spot I can easily see what other locations are nearby or what might be on the way. I can usually hit two or three places instead of just one. Use My Maps to create your own map.
If you’re looking for great locations near you, here are some things you can try.
1. State Guides from Loaded Landscapes
Here at Loaded Landscapes, we have a detailed guide of the best photography locations in each state. We also have guides for each Canadian province and territory, as well as a guide for each country in the United Kingdom. If you live in the U.S, Canada, or the UK, these resources can be extremely valuable.
Check the guide for your local area and you may find some locations that you didn’t know about. In addition to photos and descriptions, those guides also include a map to show all of the locations that are covered in the article. You can use the map to quickly see the best places near you.
The photo-sharing website Flickr is an excellent resource for finding places to photograph, and you can do it in a few different ways.
First, search by using the name of your state, region, county, or city/town. Browse through the photos and click on any that catch your attention. Most Flickr users will mention the specific location either in the name of the photo, the description, or the tags. Some will even use GPS data to show the exact location.
Second, once you’ve found a good photographer that has photos of places in your local area, browse through his/her photos and see what other locations you can find.
Searching and browsing Flickr to find locations can take some time, but it can also be a great way to find new locations. Many of the locations that I’ve found have been found through Flickr.
Forums can also be a great resource. It could be a photography forum, hikers’ forum, or a forum that is specifically for your local area. Many people will turn to forums to discuss beautiful locations, and you may find existing threads where other people are discussing the best views or best places to photograph.
And if you can’t find existing threads on the discussion, you can always start the discussion by creating a new thread and asking for suggestions about places to photograph in your area.
4. List of State Parks
Wikipedia has a list of state parks for every state. You’re probably already aware of the state parks that are closest to you, but there may be others that you don’t know about that are accessible within reach of a short drive.
5. County Parks
Search Google to find a website with details on the parks in your county. These parks will not be as well known as state parks, but they can be great places to explore and photograph. County parks are sometimes hidden gems.
6. Local Trails
Sometimes you can find great photo opportunities just by hiking local trails. Depending on the trail, you may be able to cover ground much faster by biking, and then focus on photographing the areas that interest you.
You can also talk to other people who hike and bike and see which trails and locations they enjoy and recommend.
7. Google Maps
One easy way to quickly find some new locations is to simply look at Google Maps for your location and pay attention to the green areas. This may include parks, state forests, state game lands, and other natural areas that are perfect for photographing.
8. Websites and Blogs that Focus on Your State or Local Area
Chances are, there are at least a few websites or blogs that exist specifically for covering your local area. It could be a website with all kinds of information about your state, a tourism website for your local area, or the blog of someone who regularly hikes or photographs your area. Find a few of these types of websites and you might quickly come across an archive of content that helps you to find several new locations.
9. Talk to Other Photographers
Lastly, you can and should talk to other photographers in your area, especially those who focus on landscape and nature photography. Other photographers can be a wealth of information. As you’re out photographing, you’ll probably come across other photographers. Strike up a conversation and you never know what it might lead to. Ask other photographers about their favorite places in the area or any hidden gems that don’t get enough attention. And, of course, be ready to share some of your favorite spots as well.
Photo license links: Unsplash