A couple of times over the past few months I have asked my wonderful Instagram followers about some topics they might like to hear me write about on the blog, so today is the day I start tackling their ideas! One theme that has come up more than once is finding locations. 

Finding locations can definitely be challenging, especially when you don't live in the gorgeous PNW or New Zealand or wherever and have wonderful mountains and lakes and etc within a couple of hours. I live in southeast Michigan, and while Michigan does have some AMAZING areas (and is totally worth a visit for all you non-mitten folk), most of the beautiful places are at least a 3 hour drive from me. And while that's not too bad, it's still important to find local spots close to where you live for shoots you plan when you don't have time to drive all day. So, here's how I generally find and keep track of my shooting locations.


If I hit a mental road block planning a shoot and can't think of a location, I generally do one of two things: If the shoot is local, the easiest thing for me to do is to just go for a drive or a walk, or the other option is to park hunt (I'll get to that in a minute). For local spot searching, I listen to some music that relates to the theme or mood of my shoot I'm location hunting for and just look around. You'd be surprised how many cool spots there are around you when you're looking for them and not just mindlessly driving to your day's activities. 

The second way I find locations is to "park hunt" which essentially is to utilize -big shocker here- Google + Instagram. When friends or photographers you know use a GeoTag on their post, you can click that Geotag to see photos from other people in that location and can give you a good idea of what a location is like. This is really helpful for if you're looking for a location in a city you don't know very well! So for example, a lot of times I'll google "State Parks near X" and then check those GeoTag pages out on Instagram to get a sense of what they look like so I can pick my location from there! 


My next step is to keep track of these locations that I come across. One thing I always do & highly recommend is to keep a pad of paper on hand to write down locations as you walk or drive by them so that you don't forget about them when you're trying to plan a shoot down the road. It doesn't have to be a fancy novel, just a quick jot. Here's a sample location blurb of mine:

 "abandoned shed, Hagadorn between Jolly & Mt. Hope; tall grass, muddy, yellow."

It's so easy and so straightforward that me explaining it to you is probably really annoying. But the reason it's great is because I know what the location is, where it is, and what color is prominent in that area so I can style the shoot's wardrobe accordingly. It takes like 5 seconds and is so incredibly helpful when you're planning and hit that mental location block. I also organize my blurbs by city, so there's a little Detroit section, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, etc. Just another way to further organize your thoughts. 


I hope this post was helpful for you guys hitting that location block, and as always if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask! Now here are some photos of my awesome shoot with Maria, where I definitely implemented my Instagram Geotag hunting. Enjoy!!

Steph Pickard