Online Photography Location Scouting has become increasingly popular and easy over the past few years. This post will detail my workflow for Online Photography Location Scouting. I will also cover a few of the websites and applications that I use to scout shoot locations long before ever going there.  By using online photography location scouting you can save hours of time and money.  Knowing where I want to go to make great pictures, and what time of the day that I need to be there(ie: sunrise or sunset) definitely gives me peace of mind, allowing me to enjoy the day.

Step 1 – What am I looking for?

Make a list of things that you would like to shoot.  If I know the area I would like to go to, the first thing that I would do is head straight to Google, or your favourite search engine.  Keeping the search terms general but specific enough to get the result s that you need.  For the purposes of this article, I will be planning a trip to the Bruce Peninsula, in Ontario, Canada…

From the results, I will start to drill down into more specific areas, such as gathering more information on the Bruce Peninsula National Park and visiting some of the Travel Information websites that are listed.

Step 2 – What does it look like?

Now I know several areas that I might want to visit on the Bruce Peninsula.  Simply take the information that you have gathered in step 1 about the areas that you would like to visit, and head on over to some of the more professional photography websites.  I usually start with stock photo agencies, a couple of the sites I use are and  I know from step one that I want to photograph a rock formation known as the “Flowerpot” on Flowerpot Island, so I start to search at the stock photo agencies.

iStockphoto Search - Online Photography Location Scouting

Some other site that I would suggest using include…


If you choose to use Google Images, Flickr and to a lesser extent 500px you will have to wade through a great number of “snapshots”, to find to the good photos.  On the upside, you might find a location that has been hidden away from other photographers in general.  Finally, you are able to see the photos on a map using Flickr.

Now I have determined that I do actually want to photograph the “flowerpot” on Flowerpot Island.

step 3- Where and When

Now I need to figure out where I need to go and when I need to be there.  This is where your preferred mapping application comes into play.  Start searching for the location that you have determined you want to go.  In my case, I am looking for Flowerpots on the Bruce Peninsula.

Google Map Flowerpots - Online Photography Location Scouting

Thanks to mapping the location I now know that I will need to take a ferry from Tobermory to Flowerpot Island.  I can also tell by the map that there is a campground on the Island.  I will likely need to take advantage of the campground to get dramatic lighting depending on the ferry schedule.  Possibly the most important piece of information that I get from this map is the actual location of the “flowerpot”.  Notice that it is located on the east side of the Island, which means I will need to be on location for sunrise.

Other websites and Software that I use for mapping…

  • Google Maps Street View if it is available
  • Bing Maps
  • Google Earth
  • Government Maps – Country/Province or State/City/Town/County online maps

Step 4 – The Weather

Another key factor not to neglect when shooting in an unfamiliar location is the weather.  If I know that I would like to head to the location within the next week I will take a look at the weather forecasts for the area to determine the best window for photography.  Thus giving me the best opportunity to create the best image possible.  If the location that you are researching is not local you may want to figure out the what time of year to visit.  If I were to visit a location in the southern hemisphere I would have to remember that the seasons are opposite, so if I wanted to take pictures of the Hobbit Village in New Zealand during the fall I would have to go to New Zealand during our spring.


After completing my Online Photography Location Scouting,  I am now able to plan my visit to the “flowerpot” on Flowerpot Island with confidence. I now know that I will need to catch the ferry in Tobermory, camp on Flowerpot Island at least one night and be at the “flowerpot” for sunrise.  With my visit all laid out, I am able to book travel and accommodations.   All the information that I have gathered will allow me to make a great picture with minimal stress.

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