How To Scout For Street Photography

Most location scouting apps and techniques used by portrait photographers, nature photographers, etc are pretty useless for those of us shooting street. So there are two questions: “What can street photographers do to scout spots for fresh street photography?” – and: “How can I do something vaguely useful for my hobby while avoiding my work?” I think of this method as a way for busy people to maximize the effectiveness of the time that they do get, to shoot the best street photography possible. In other words, this probably is not going to be all that helpful if you feel you have enough time to not need to do research.

The Tools I Use

Google Maps Street View and just Google Maps is the most hilarious and most obvious way to scout locations as a street photographer. It is never really going to be as good as actually seeing the street and absorbing its details in real life, but if you are stuck in a boring office job or something and want to do some street photography day-dreaming that will actually help you, then sit down and hop on google street view. It is for those who are fans of having boring work, and those who just like having logical continuity between their hobbies and the apps they use. You can find it HERE if you just want to use Maps or HERE if you want a Street view experience that is more functional for scouting.

You can also use just Google Maps to get an idea of neighborhoods and other cultural areas.

Your phone and your legs: This is the most logical way to scout street photography, and also the least helpful tip on this list. If you are living in the 21st century, then you can pull out your smartphone at any point and snap a photo. This photo will have a geotag which you can use to your advantage in mapping out your collection of locations.

I took this while out with friends, allowing for me to return later if I desire.

Street Art App: These apps let you search street art by city. They have large catalogs of user added art that even may have titles and the names of artist. This can be super useful, especially if you are trying to fish for an image using street art. There are several of these apps available on Android, with the most popular being called “Street Art Cities”

Flickr Search: Do a quick Flickr search. Recommended search terms are: City Architecture, City Street Art, City Street Photography.

After you search, click on a photo you like, especially if it has a nice landmark or something else interesting in the environment. If the person saved the GPS data on their camera and did not wipe it during editing, you will be able to find it there.

Other Street Photographers:
– Before you travel to any city, do a quick search and find local street photographers. I guarantee you that they will be happy to help you scout locations. This will help you maximize your time actually shooting, and not just searching for something reasonably interesting to shoot.
– They also do not need to specifically be street photographers. For example, I am in a group of photographers from Costa Rica, so I asked them to send me interesting places that would be good for street/ architectural photography/ graffiti photography.

Google Maps “My Maps”:
– Ok, so you have found some pretty cool places to shoot by browsing Google Maps and street view, looking around online, Google searching your heart out, and contacting the local street photographers. Now, if you really want to level up, this is how you are going to do it. First of all, go to this link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/

I use the base map to avoid visual clutter and then start by making three different layers, each with a different area of interest for street photographers: Street Art, Architecture, and General Areas of Interest.

Architecture: For architecture I use a black house Icon, because it contrasts heavily against the map background. Additionally, there will be no other house icons on the map because in standard google maps it is used for your home, which will not appear in this custom map.

Street Art: For this category, I use the diamond icon and the maroon-red color RGB (165 ,39 ,20). This is where the street art app comes in handy. You can add your favorite graffiti into this layer. The Street Art app mentioned above comes in handy here.

Areas Of Interest: This is a pretty vague category. I put stuff in this category that is somewhat strange or out of the ordinary. It is usually from street view or from what I see while I’m on the street. Example would be: burnt out buildings and other destruction, strange patterns, places that cast strong light during the day, city markets, etc.

For this category I use a dark purple question mark.

Areas: This is an optional step, and I only really recommend it if you are not planning on making additional changes for the time being, because it can interfere with placing other points and navigating your map. However, it is really useful for marking areas that are particularly interesting, with multiple points of interest without having to mark every single one. You could also use it to mark places that are potentially dangerous after a certain time, etc.

Photo coordinates to map:

Sample Map

A small sample custom map

This is how I am currently scouting and occupying my time while I am bored. For me, it is a fun thing to do when I would otherwise being doing something totally worthless. I hope you enjoyed it or maybe even found a strategy that you will adopt yourself. Thank you for reading!

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