Location Hunting

How do you choose locations for photography? Street photographers find worthy subjects on busy streets or at city squares. Wandering around and shooting whatever catches your fancy is another approach, and a perfectly valid one if your primary objective is to wander around looking at stuff. But what if you’re specifically searching for locations that deserve to be captured in lasting images?

Location hunting is just part of the process for landscape and cityscape photographers, and it can take up a huge amount of the time allotted for making pictures. Traditionally it meant knowing the territory really well, or knowing someone who does. If they weren’t already there, dedicated landscape photographers would even move to and live in areas they wanted to capture. At the very least, lots of independent travel and hiking would be involved. Nowadays a sizeable portion of the landscape canon seems to be well-travelled destinations that have been photographed umpteen times before. There’s nothing wrong with that, and no harm in trying new perspectives, but it isn’t as adventurous as the new breed of SNS adventurers seem to think. I’m not saying that you need to trek into uncharted territory or place yourself in danger, but I do think that finding new images in places, even easily-accessible places, where they might not be obvious is a vital part of the photographer’s art. That’s the part that depends on a well-developed “photographer’s eye.”

Now we have tools like map and satellite imaging apps on our smartphones that can reduce the need for pre-planning and hiking. You might still have to hike, but at least you’ll have a better idea of where you’re going when you start. I’m not much of a hiker myself (getting old, you know), so the closer I can get by car or other forms of powered transportation the better. These days the routine is to scout locations online, and then head out in the car to see if they are actually as accessible as they appeared to be in the virtual world. If I am already aware of a location I want to visit, I will scour all possible routes online to see if there are other potential locations along the way. The result is that I now have quite a pile of locations to visit, all within a day’s drive both ways.

Right now, I’m waiting for the weather (it has been raining for several weeks, and a humongous typhoon has just left a trail of devastation up and down the archipelago) and general life clutter to clear up a bit. Then I’m gone. Outa here. On the road to preserve more of the planet’s beauty for posterity. At least that’s the plan.

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