5 Ways to Find Great Locations for Travel Photography

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In this article, you’ll get five tips to help you find great locations for travel photography.

The issue

The use of cell phones has truly changed the face of photography. All realms have been affected. Travel photography like all other genres has changed. Nowadays the world is so easily accessible through the internet, so many famous sites have been shot over and over again. Google the Eiffel Tower and millions of images will pop up.

person on a quiet beach - 5 Ways to Find Great Locations for Travel Photography

We stopped to visit the small town in Wales that my parents lived in when they were young, and discovered a beautiful moody beach.

So when traveling how do you find things to shoot? Yes of course still shoot the famous landmarks and sites. You have to shoot them! How could anyone go to London without checking out Big Ben or London Bridge? (Unless of course the clock was covered in scaffolding for maintenance like it was when I visited.)

As always, I’m going to suggest you push yourself past these common sites and look deeper into a location. The question is how do you find great locations for travel photography and how can you plan your trip, so you make the most of these sites?

It’s time to look into a few methods for finding fantastic photographic opportunities when traveling at home or abroad.

1) Travel Books

Portugal travel book - 5 Ways to Find Great Locations for Travel Photography

A shot from my Instagram feed. I’m always researching my next location, even when sitting in a car waiting for my kids.

Tried and trusted travel books can help you begin your search for interesting places to photograph. While not focused solely on photography, they provide you with the background information and history of different sites.

All of this is, of course, relevant for travel photography. You need to know the ins and outs of visiting a country and all its sites. There’s nothing worse than showing up expecting to be able to shoot a variety of historic buildings only to discover they’re closed on Sundays.

Having a solid knowledge of a country is so important when going to photograph a location. What are the rules for photography? How will people react when you take their photo? Travel guide books can help you in the primary stages of your research.

5 Ways to Find Great Locations for Travel Photography - Snowdonia valley

Snowdonia is the main tourist location but when we stopped to check out the view we stumbled upon the training grounds for the airforce planes zipped through this valley. It was impressive.

One of my favorite series of digging into a place is the 500 Hidden Secrets Books. I love them for the info and the pointers. They usually contain some small less popular sites and the books are nicely organized. Another favorite that has never steered me wrong is the Lonely Planet Guides. Whatever you prefer, there are tons of books out there that can assist you in your primary travel research.

2) Travel Blogs and Articles

I often find inspiration for travel by reading articles on the internet. Of course, check out the famous websites like the travel lists from Forbes and National Geographic but I also like to dig into some rather interesting blogs. There are lots of people visiting the world, discovering places, and providing inspiration. I like to take a look at what the folks at Drink Tea and Travel have discovered as well as Dan Flying Solo.

5 Ways to Find Great Locations for Travel Photography - secluded beach

A small out of the way beach we found through a hiking website.

3) Travel sharing websites

A site like Trover can be very inspiring and informative when trying to research a destination. I’m heading to New York and Portugal shortly so this site will feature fairly heavily in my research. It’s very much a social sharing site that allows you to get some first-hand information about specific locations.

But it’s important to plan when going traveling with photography as your focus and being able to get first-hand information is important. Let’s face it; if the author is not a photographer, they have no idea how important it is to visit a site at the right time of day. So, by all means, check out a ton of photo sharing sites before you head to any location.

Harlech Castle - 5 Ways to Find Great Locations for Travel Photography

A shot of the impressive Unesco Heritage Site, Harlech Castle. You will find this site on the main tourist trail in Wales. It’s still worth a visit, though.

4) Ask Locals

One of the best places I found to shoot was based on information I got from a local. You have to be careful when you ask. Always take the proper safety precautions but they know their home well, and they know the hidden away amazing places.

Case in point, people come to Canada and they often skip Toronto and head straight to Niagara Falls. Their response is often the same. The falls are nice but the rest of the town, it’s kitschy. As a local, I know all about the tourist trap areas around the falls. I often direct people to see the falls but to also visit Toronto too. They are often surprised at what they find in this frequently overlooked city.

So go for it chat up the locals to find out what they know about their home. Just be aware and always use safety precautions when meeting people in person or giving our your personal information or travel plans.

restaurant - 5 Ways to Find Great Locations for Travel Photography

A shot taken on my phone. We found this amazing restaurant by chatting with a bouncer in Cardiff.

5) When you get there take a calculated risk and follow a whim

Some of the best photographs I’ve ever captured have occurred because I let fate guide my steps. I chose to leave the beaten path and explore. I revelled in the mystery of getting lost.

You will find that these detours almost always pay off. You find out of the way places that provide you with some insight into the wonder of a location. Plus there’s always the excitement of adventure and the road less traveled.

Most of my favourite memories come from these moments when I have no idea where I’m going or what might occur.

Harlech castle black and white - 5 Ways to Find Great Locations for Travel Photography

A more artistic shot of Harlech Castle.

Summary

There are endless places to discover. Travel photography is both exciting and challenging. Don’t hesitate to discover some amazing things.

Share your favorite methods of finding great photography locations. The more ways we share, the more we discover about this incredible world in which we live. So go ahead post your favorite travel articles, share your stories with locals and let’s make a huge list of resources we can all use for finding those amazing locations we love to capture so much.

waterfall - 5 Ways to Find Great Locations for Travel Photography

Best day ever! On a side trip, we found this waterfall and had a blast wandering around behind it.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Erin Fitzgibbon is a freelance photographer, writer, and teacher, from Ontario, Canada. She specialises in portrait, sport, and fine art photography. In her free time, she escapes to the backcountry or the beach with her family.

  • Some great tips in there. I’ve got a few apps that I regularly use to help me find new places for travel photography.

    https://www.rowansims.com/product-review/5-must-have-apps-for-travel-photographers/

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    Wow thanks so much Rowan. We appreciate the additional ideas.

  • graeme stewart

    Men of Harlech is probably the most famous Welsh song – type it into YouTube.

  • graeme stewart

    It is what the Welsh Guards sing in the classic movie Zulu.

  • Erin Fitzgibbon

    LOL a little bit of Welsh trivia for everyone. Thanks Graeme

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