Hey guys, Jim Harmer here. For a few YEARS I’ve toyed with and dreamed of the idea of a photo locations app, and I’m excited to announce that plan are underway for us to build it. This is-by far-the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken with Improve Photography, so I’m writing to ask your help today.

When I travel to shoot with you guys in our travel group, I frequently spend 3 or 4 full working days trying to find photography locations for the trips. Also, when I’m driving to visit family or in a city for a conference for a few days, I often miss awesome photo locations because I don’t have the time to research. I believe that if we could all work together to share our favorite spots, it would make us all better photographers and give us all the enjoyment of photographing more places around the world.

There have been dozens of photo locations websites and apps launched in the last few years. I believe that none of them have taken root for three reasons: (1) They usually don’t do a good job of making the best locations show up first, so you have to still hunt through hundreds of spots to find the coolest locations, (2) they don’t have a community behind them so there aren’t enough unique locations listed, and (3) they often spit out the locations on a complicated map view only, which makes it difficult to sort through spots.

I’ve set out to fix these three problems. I’m posting the mockups today of what the location finder tool will look like here on Improve Photography. Once the tool is built, I’m going to reach out to you guys and ask if you would help grow the community of photographers by submitting your favorite local locations.

Once we hit 6,000 locations worldwide submitted by the I.P. community, I’ll front the money (a LOT OF IT!) to build a native app for Android/iOS so we can have the information on our phones. Frankly, this will really only get exciting when it’s a phone app, but we have to take baby steps to get this project done right.

The Mockups

The following are the mockups for the site. Would you please take a look at them and give me some feedback on the overall aesthetic, things you’d like to see changed, or features added? I want to be certain this app will succeed, so I want your feedback at every stage of the process.

search

This is the search page. You’ll see this page when you first come to the location finder and look for a spot. The photo in the background will change each time you come, so you can see some of the most beautiful locations around the world. Ignore the title of the page… I just screenshotted the lens finder page to build on.

This is the result page. You'll see this after your initial search. The locations show in order from 5 star to 1 star. Ignore the page title.

This is the result page. You’ll see this after your initial search. The locations show in order from 5 star to 1 star. Ignore the page title.

This is the location detail page. This is the page you see after clicking on an individual location from within the results page. Ignore the page title.

This is the location detail page. This is the page you see after clicking on an individual location from within the results page. Ignore the page title.

This is the page where you add a location. I wanted it to be SUPER FAST AND EASY to add a location. After submitting a location, I will personally review it to make sure it is a unique location, and assign it to a category and give it a star rating. The user is not the one to give it a star rating so that we can have some consistency in how they are scored.

This is the page where you add a location. I wanted it to be SUPER FAST AND EASY to add a location. After submitting a location, I will personally review it to make sure it is a unique location, and assign it to a category and give it a star rating. The user is not the one to give it a star rating so that we can have some consistency in how they are scored.

One More Question

What should we call the location finder? Unfortunately, trademark law will likely prevent us from calling it anything super obvious because there have been many apps created like this in the past (most of which are ghost towns today). So it’ll have to be something kind of creative, I think.

I’d love your feedback on the mockups, features, and names. Would you leave a comment below? I will absolutely be reading every single comment.

Jim Harmer

Founder, Improve Photography LLC

Original Content provided by Improve Photography

45 Comments

  1. name: Pinpoint Me Photo Location finder – Might be too long?

  2. Rob Mohrmann

    Improve Location?

  3. Rick Montgomery

    I like this name best of the ones submitted so far. Makes sense based on the website name, etc…

  4. Hi Jim, I submitted a write up to you on this idea last year which Nick reviewed as well. I think the write up has a host of ideas that would be my encompass my feedback. I can send it to you again if you are interested and can not locate it. I titled it “Instant Photo Workshop” which I still think is a great name and goes hand in handed with your other photo workshop. I have started to add this feature to my web site in the blog area and while it is very simplistic, you can get the gist of the idea. As I have mentioned before, I am happy to help on this as I think there is a real need for this and done right would be a big asset to any landscape photographer. I think I real key is to get a moderator(s) for this effort. I view many location sites, but most of the images are poor and have been submitted without any filter and contain little information needed to help me. Bring the best locations, photos, image data, when to visit, how to get there and a few other nuggets and you will get a lot of traffic. Done right, it should be an income generator. I have covered all this in the write up. Thanks for reviewing.

  5. Brent Huntley

    Looks great Jim. I am really excited about this. The key problem I have seen with most of these programs is the gps coordinates get all funky and you can’t rely at all on where the maps actually say the location is. Is there some way to ensure the accuracy. Also, will there be some way to input locations that you don’t have gps locations for?

  6. Ron Lawrence

    This is a great start. I’m really excited about this because my travel budget is so limited. I think such things distance from gas, restaurants, lodging would be a great help as well.

  7. I don’t know anything about development but a great feature is if you could scout locations with this website but help plan it with an app like PhotoPills (in other words, have the website be able to communicate with the app).
    Another suggestion is if there is only a website for now, is there an easy way you could use your phone to enter the gps coordinates from the website (other than having to type in the actual coordinates)? For example, if you could use your phone to scan something on the screen that would automatically bring up the location in your maps app.

  8. Name ideas. Improve Locations, Improve Photo Finder, or Improve Spots (Spotter)
    My biggest question is will it be mobile friendly? Sure I would use in on my computer but would also like to use it on the go. Looks great, I like that there is a big description area that I hope will include details of how hard it is to get to the location. Can’t wait to see where you take this and thanks for all that you do.

  9. Improve Photography – Locations (IPL for short).

  10. Cindy Eccles

    I’m a big fan of Scoutt, so this is really cool! I do like the layout, especially the results page with the tiles. I also really like the idea of the detail page but was wondering will there be write-ups, tips on where to stay or which bus to take, and weather advice (e.g., what Ron Lawrence said…)?
    How about Travelog or for the European side Travelogue? Or a play on Discover / Discovery? Destination Discoverer (too many ers…) Desintation Finder?
    Fabulous idea!

  11. I think its a great idea! Two comments.
    1) I would make the form/template available ASAP so photographers can start logging their trips in a consistent method to be added to the data base.
    2) I have purchased several domains names related to photography that I now own should I ever need them. I just checked the availability at GoDaddy.com for “shutterlocations.com” and it’s available. So that is a possibility for a name/website to redirect to your app or already be available should you place it online in the future.

  12. Hi Jim, I appreciate your thoughtfulness! It’s a great idea that flows smoothly! My suggestion for the name is: “Points of Interest”. I looked it up and don’t think it is being used for anything like it.
    Keep up the good work! And congratulations on little Faith’s arrival!

  13. Mark Hazelton

    “Apecurious” combination of aperture and curious. I also like Norman Peay’s “shutter locations”. I think Rod’s idea of distance from gas, restaurants, lodging is good also, but, may be complicated to pull off.

  14. Mark Hazelton

    *Ron

  15. Great idea. I know there have been times we have traveled through a place, only to realize later I missed a good photo op. Maybe the name could be something along those lines too….”The best photo Op,” “Photo Op here” I don’t know, maybe those are dumb. Would the GPS coordinates go straight to Google maps? We live and die by Google maps in a strange town. I would use something like this, and could even come up with a site or two. We stumble on to some cool stuff in our travels.

  16. Frank Gallagher

    The design and layout look good to me. I totally suck at creative naming, so I’ll spare everyone any lame attempts.
    Here’s what I’d like to see in such an app:
    at least one photo of the attraction–more if relevant
    it’s location–GPS, Google Earth/Maps & directions, including nearest parking if applicable
    is it on private property? are there restrictions on access?
    any fees, licenses, etc.?
    what should one be prepared for–is it a 6 mile hike to a waterfall with 2,00 feet elevation change?
    tips from other photographers about time of year or time of day to go, what lens to bring, etc.
    website and or contact info (if applicable)
    suggestions for nearby or similar sites

  17. Rockford Jordan

    You should call it “ViewFinder”

  18. Not only the location will be helpful but including the perspective (e.g., the exact point where you took the shot) For example, Golden Gate Bridge – where were you when you took it? Visitor center? Was the shot taken from Fort Point?

  19. Steve Robertson

    Hi Jim. I have traveled most of SE Asia and have been thinking about something similar to this for years also. I think that photographer submissions should be to something like a WIKI that will provide an API for other websites and applications. Anyway, I have extensive travel photography experience and a computer science background including website design and app creation, so I would love to work with you if you think there might be some valuable in cooperation. Thanks…

  20. Most cameras include the GPS information in the META Data.
    If such data is available in the uploaded photo, the app could use it; and only pop up for manual geolocalisation if the information is not available.

  21. I think a great name would just be “Scout”. Short, sweet and to the point. Love the idea and hope it comes to fruition.

  22. App name; PYTH, for Put Your Tripod Here

  23. A little Pith Helmet icon would be pretty sweet. (Admitted self promotion)

  24. Jim: This is a wonderful idea. However, as you may be aware, http://www.Scoutt.com is (was?) trying to do something similar. I don’t know it’s status; for all I know, it could already be (in your words) a “ghost town.” That said, with your world-wide following, it wouldn’t take you long to surpass their efforts.
    I’d suggest the locations be categorized by country, state/province and primary subject (e.g., waterfall, flowers, alpine meadow, desert, coastal landscapes, birding hotspot, butterflies, etc.) so that users don’t have to wade through thousands of locations to find their primary interest(s).
    Good luck.

  25. App names ;
    Compass point.
    The journeyman.
    The travellers view.
    The location scout.
    Travellers Ephemeris.
    The travel compedium.
    The wayfarer.
    Click Navigator.

  26. John Heslop III

    How about:
    Shot Spot

  27. P. Shawn Faherty

    Hi, Jim, thanks for crowdsourcing this. Great idea. Maybe you need to implement Slack and/or Trello to begin agile development!
    As far as a name, it does not appear that “photo destination discovery” is taken, but I’m sure you’d need to do your do diligence.
    I also like some of the recommendations above, especially “The location scout”, and “Put Your Tripod Here”

  28. How about ‘Tripod Locations’ for a name, ties in with the podcast as it will probably be mainly used by landscape photographers.
    Other suggestions – ‘Improve Map’ ‘Tripod Trek’ ‘Tripod Destination’ ‘Improvephototrek’ ‘Phototrek’

  29. Brendan Reaney

    Point Then Shoot

  30. Paul Brady Photography

    Love the idea Jim!
    General feedback:
    1- On the details page, it would be nice to know if this is a “shoot from the vehicle” location or if it involves a hike.
    2 – If there is a hike needed to get to the location, what trail, how far and trail difficultly.
    3 – Any restrictions (i.e. shot from private property or a location that has specific hours)
    4 – Voting on a location that already exists so the star rating is dynamic and community based.
    5- How about the ability for multiple people to share variations of photos from the same location.
    Name ideas (Not one of my strengths, but…):
    – FocalPoint
    – PicPoint
    – PhotoPins
    – GeoPixel

  31. Nathan St. Andre

    include a line in your initial search that gives you an option for hiking, drive up, short walk, ex. This would allow people to say hey I just want to drive up to something or allow them to go on a long hike if they have the time.
    I got a ton of locations that I could upload.
    as for a name… no idea
    but for some additional concept ideas, combine this with TPE and sky fire… think about it

  32. Sounds great, and look forward to seeing how it works.
    I also think that the ability to describe how to get there would be useful, even if its just a tick box option for distance from car, ie, less than 500m, less than 2km etc.
    Would it be possible to search it by the map itself, by panning over the map and seeing what locations pop up?
    And thirdly, in addition to the editor ranking, would it be worth having a user feedback/comments and star ranking. This would be particularly if there are any changes to the area, such as a tree in a field that when you go there, has been knocked over in a storm or something.
    These are probably unwanted suggestions, so feel free to ignore them!
    Regarding names, I like the above suggestion for “Improve Location”, though any variation of this would also work, ie “improve ______”
    Alternatively name it along the lines of the “lens finder”, such as site finder, location finder, etc

  33. I love the idea, and I completely agree that apps for finding locations aren’t the best. The Outbound does a pretty good job for finding adventures nearby, providing good pictures, and giving directions to it, but an app strictly for photographers would be amazing. The Outbound is more for hikers than photographers.
    On the initial page, I think it would be great to instead of just having awesome photos from all over the world that the homepage would be location based and that amazing photos nearby would show up. Maybe you could use a 100 mile radius.
    For a name how about “iLocation or iFinder or some variation of that?”
    Looking forward to the website and future app!

  34. Kamal Eltayeb

    Hi there, long listener to the podcasts from Saudi Arabia,
    the app should be called “FotoHuntr”

  35. Joe Neubauer

    How about something like “SightSite” for the tool name
    A few others I came up with (sorry if anyone else also thought of these, I didn’t have time to read every post)
    Golden eye?
    Whereto?
    Snapfinder?
    Snapsite?
    ToSight? Or ToSite?
    The main thing I thought about when reading the concept was that you wanted to personally review the sites. It think that will work at the very beginning, but it will get very burdensome and you’ll need to recruit come moderators/admins. Maybe these can be volunteers from the community that are posting the best locations or you have notifications go out to members that are in the same zip code (or state etc) and they can vote on the location. If the location is ranked by a certain number of curators then it’s visible to all. ( think similar to how Amazon fields questions by asking people who have purchased the item)
    I did see one post above about using the info when mobile. You might be able to hook into google maps to save the location to the users personal google map or send a link to your tools into with an embedded google map link.

  36. Joe Neubauer

    One more thought, I do think you need to have info such as location, parking, private property etc. you should probably make these a series of drop down options so there is less to manually translate and you will have a fixed set of values to search against. That will reduce the chance that someone will enter 2 values that are essentially the same that you have to translate.

  37. Jeff Hancock

    Pocket Photo Workshop
    You may want to add a feature that allows you to turn off notifications at home. Otherwise it might alert you to all the shooting spots around you every sunrise and sunset.

  38. Stephen Walker

    Hi Jim,
    Thanks for taking the plunge and making this App. Good luck with the process. How about PortfolioShot? The idea of this application is to put the photographer in a place and time to take a shot that will be a keeper…and end up in their Portfolio.
    Have you considered partnering with The Photographer’s Ephemeris or a similar product? http://photoephemeris.com/ It would be great to identify a magnificent place and then identify the right time to be there.

  39. Matthew Robinson

    Love this idea! I like PYTH (Put Your Tripod Here) and ViewFinder as names. I like the editor’s rating, but I also think you should allow users in the field to rate and comment on the locations. I think another neat feature would be Location Groups. By that I mean you could do a search for 25 miles from Gatlinburg, TN and the search would yield individual locations in the area plus Location Groups like “Great Smokey Mountains National Park” that included all the Locations within the park or “City of Gatlinburg” that included all the locations within the city center.

  40. Brian Caldwell

    I like it!
    One idea. On the page with the location results maybe add some buttons to instantly search that location in 500px and Flickr and such to view reference images on that location.
    As far as the name …Improve Your Location sounds good to me.

  41. Mark Richardson

    While it’s a great idea in theory and I think it could work with a massive investment in time and development costs, I have to wonder if it’s solving a problem that is easily enough solved already.
    500PX search feature works really well – type in a location and you’re presented with hundreds of example shots from the best photo spots in that location.
    I just feel like the research isn’t hard or time consuming, and for me half the fun is discovering places myself or taking images off the beaten path where hundreds haven’t been before.

  42. This is such a great idea. You were kind enough to share the Iceland locations with me and I have been using it to plan or trip there. I found it super convenient and would love to help with this in any way. Everything looks good as far as setup to me. I like the name “photo nomad” or “foto finder”

  43. My idea for a name is
    OpApp

  44. Nevermind! I see there is already something close to those initials.

  45. Mark Richardson wrote: “I just feel like the research isn’t hard or time consuming, and for me half the fun is discovering places myself or taking images off the beaten path where hundreds haven’t been before.”
    While I actually kind of agree with this sentiment, I think that nonetheless, we might be really well served by having this for more popular spots. For really private spots which might be quite fragile or historical and be ruined, stolen, etc. by hordes of photographers/tourists, or other very special spots, I’m sure no one’s going to share that on an app anyway. But certainly in public land, National Parks and monuments, parks, and other places, there are so many beautiful spots that I think maybe an app like this could work.
    To me, the benefit of an app like this would be the extra information that one might get. Anyone can Google images from a specific location. And it’s not so hard to find GPS coordinates. But to get additional information such as parking, nearest gas stations, access, public/private land, tips, distance/difficulty of hike, elevation gain, being able to click on GPS coordinates and assign that to Google Maps (and maybe Waze), best time of day/night for photography, best season to photograph and why, and oddball tips that one might not know. These things would be quite valuable if an app could include them. I know, easier said than done.
    Finally, Rob Mohrmann had a great name back on August 3: Improve Location. I think the app should tie in with your brand name. If not this, then some derivation of it, such as Improve Photography Location or Improve Photography Location Finder or something like that.
    I hope this helps.

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