Keeping Track of On-Location Shooting Locations

Ok, so a while back we talked about finding a great spot for photoshoots but what to do when you start collecting a LOT of locations for photography?

Visual Records

Photographers are visual people, take advantage of your visual bent. Take reference shots of every shooting location. If at all possible, take reference shots from several different times throughout the day to show the differences in natural lighting.

The Data

Once you have your reference shots, you need some hard data as well. I like to have the name of the location (if it doesn’t have an official name use something you can remember), address, driving time, whether it is controlled access or not, and GPS coordinates at the very least.


There are lots of ways to organize your shooting locations and even software/apps to help you. I personally find a combination of hard copies and computer records works best for me.

  • The Shoebox – I admit, I like to print out my reference photos so that when all other search methods fail I can flip through the photos looking for inspiration. Divider tabs by location name with color coding for type of location (railroad, field, warehouse, fire escape, wildlife, etc) makes quick reference easy.
  • The Database – Whether you use a spreadsheet program, a photo program with tagging, or a specialty location app (like ShootLocal), you need a way to be able to search your data in a meaningful way. I recommend several different sorting options so you can search by what makes sense to you on that day.
    • Name of location
    • Indoor or Outdoor
    • Access Controlled? Y/N with cost noted
    • Driving Time
    • Location Category (Railroad, old buildings, warehouse, fire escape, staircase, flowers, bridge, hay, field, antique cars, etc)
    • Suggested Subject Categories (Senior Portraits, little kids, engagement, trash the dress, families, pets, etc)
    • Best Time of Day

Update, Update, Update

It isn’t fun and it isn’t glamorous but once you have your system set up you MUST keep it updated. If you don’t visit locations (or get updates from other photographers using those locations) at least once every 3 months you are likely in for nasty surprises when you next visit.


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