Travel Photography Tip #6: Scouting

Travel photography can be tricky and sometimes it takes some luck. If you aren’t that lucky or you do not have time to wait all day for the perfect shot, follow my photography tips and you’ll be a pro in no time. Many little things go into talking a professional quality photograph and much of it comes down to preparation and planning. Scouting your travel destination is key to taking great pictures. You don’t necessarily have to be there in person to scout either.

Scouting involves figuring out what and where you want to take pictures. Maybe there is a certain attraction you want to shoot or a place you want to visit. It’s best to figure that out before you travel, especially if you are on a time crunch. We can’t sit around all day waiting for one picture.

Find out what the true essence of the place you are visiting and that’s what you want to photograph. Travel photography should tell a story, it’s should paint a picture and make people want to go there.

Research online can be all you need, and there are resources out there for every location. The Internet has been there before you, so ask it some questions. It’ll be hard to find somewhere on this planet that hasn’t been talked about online, so do your due diligence and find the information, it’s out there.

Maybe the Internet isn’t for you, I understand. If this is the case, scout out your social or professional network, someone you know has probably been to where you are going. The Earth is smaller than you think and people travel everywhere.

I enjoy searching on Instagram for my destination; this will give you an idea of what the region looks like and what other people are photographing. Use Instagram as a tool to pre-plan your shots, pick locations, and find some great angles and vantage points. Some would call this cheating; I call it being prepared and scouting. You think a professional photographer wouldn’t do some scouting before they set out on a project? Of course they would.  

Once you found out what the subjects are that you want to shoot, scouting where they are and when is the best time to shoot there. Some locations get too busy with tourists by mid-morning, so you’ll want to get there early. Other locations come alive at night, so you’ll want to plan that out accordingly. You’ll also need to find out how to get to certain locations. Maybe the vantage point you want is at the end of an all-day hike, that is something you should know in advance. A little research won’t only help your photography but should make you excited about your trip. Anticipation is great and that excited feeling in your stomach is awesome.

Of course, you could just wander around with no direction and take photos at will, but who has that kind of time? My vacations are usually pretty packed with activities and sights, so I like planning.

It’s all up to you and how you work, some people need zero planning, but for the rest of us, a little scouting never hurt.