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The 5 Best Resources for Planning Travel Photos

Vacation time!  Time to pull out the camera!

I’m going to give you one tip that will make your travel photos 100% better.  And that tip is: don’t just show up with your camera and photograph whatever you bump into.  Plan a few shots.  Think about some places you want to photograph ahead of time and plan out some shots.  Make it part of your travel planning.

Tower of London

You are already planning your trip anyway.  You are probably reading travel guides like Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, or Fodors.  You are already combing Trip Advisor.  For your next trip, step up your photography by adding these 5 great resources to your pre-trip planning as well.

1.  Flickr World Map

Check out the Flickr World Map.  If you aren’t familiar with Flickr, it is probably the largest repository of pictures in the world.  People post their pictures and they are usually tagged with a specific location.

You don’t need to have an account with Flickr to use the map.  Just go to Flickr.com, and go to the World Map (it is under “Explore” in the main menu).  Or just use the link above.  Once you are on the map, zoom in on the exact location you want to go.  Flickr will show you what it deems the “most interesting” pictures of that location.  Ideas galore.

New York City

2.  500px

The only downside to the Flickr World Map is that the photos are not always so good.  The cure for that is 500px.  Although there are less pictures than Flickr, the quality of photos on 500px is exponentially better.  The “Popular” category of photos on any particular day is always full of awesome photos.

Oddly, 500px doesn’t have a “world map” though.  But there are two ways you can explore your destination:

  1. Just run some general searches of your area and then some specific searches of landmarks where you will be.
  2. Find a picture with the location tagged (most have this).  It doesn’t matter what the location of the picture is, so don’t worry about that.  Click on the map associated with the location, and then just move the map to your particular location.

You will usually turn up some great shots that way, which will doubtlessly prove to be great inspiration for when you are there.

3.  Google Street View

You are probably already generally familiar with this aspect of Google maps, but you may not be using it with photography in mind.  Essentially, you can walk around (virtually) your location and think about the best places to shoot.

Just put “Pegman” on the street where you want to go.  The look around, walk around, and check out the area.

There are also usually pictures at the bottom of the screen, so you can use it in the same way as the Flickr world map.

My brother actually found this boat via Google Maps and we went to Roundstone specifically to photograph it. As you can see, it was still there!

My brother actually found this boat via Google Maps and we went to Roundstone specifically to photograph it. As you can see, it was still there!

4.  Local photographers

There are thousands of photographers in this world, and many of them specialize in one location (usually where they live) and they post their pictures on their websites.  Usually a simple Google search with you location and photography will pick up a few.  You can also get to some of them through Flickr and 500px.  But check out their portfolios of your location.  Borrow their ideas.

On occasion, I’ve even sent the photographer an email asking about the best photo locations in their area.  I’ve almost always received a helpful response.

5.  “How to Photograph [Your Location]”

A new phenomena has arisen in recent years, and that is the book about how to photograph a specific location.  There are now many of these books that cover some of the most popular tourist spots.

I have compiled a list of every such book I can find.  See if you location has a book written about how to photograph it.

Conclusion

Planning a trip is fun anyway, so adding to that planning just adds to the fun.  Plus these are the same resources that professional travel photographers use.  Incorporating them into your pre-trip planning will undoubtedly improve your travel photographs.

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