A Post By: John Davenport
Top Photo Spots is a hugely ambitious project headed up by James Brandon (a regular dPS writer) that aims to take the guesswork out of travel photography. James has asked me to introduce TPS here on Digital Photography School in hopes of bringing attention to the project and helping bring his vision to life. It’s a great idea and one, that if it can be accomplished, could become a go-to resource for photographers looking to find locations for photography around the world – however it’s a long way from that point right now.
So what is Top Photo Spots?
The best way to introduce TPS is to take a quote from the man who created it – from James himself.
You can Google something like “best places to photograph in Big Sur” and while you might get some helpful information, it will mostly be from random one-off websites and it won’t always be geared towards photographers.
In essence TPS aims to solve the problem of searching the web, which is filled with tourists photos of various locations, inaccurate or confusing information on where and how the photographs were taken, and replace that with something that’s geared specifically towards photographers.
The concept, layout and design are there
Overall TPS has a unique concept that will fill a huge need in this industry, the layout and design are modern, easy to navigate and complement the concept well, but – oh yes there’s a but – the big hurdle that TPS needs to conquer is content (which I’ll touch on in a bit). So, let’s focus on the good first.
As I said, the design is great and well thought out. Each location that’s been added to TPS has a sample photograph, Google map with location pins for points of interest, and a description of what to expect.
After the brief introduction to the overarching location, in this case Santa Cruz, California, there are sub-posts that describe various photographic opportunities within the location in more detail.
Moving into one of these sub-locations will provide you with a sample photograph from that specific location as well as another Google map giving you exact coordinates to get you there and of course more information on the location itself. It’s a really well thought out concept and I can see these guides being very helpful to people visiting locations and looking for not only ideas of things to photograph, but exactly how and where to take photographs.
Now – about the content problem
Currently James has TPS listed in a beta status while he builds content and brings in contributors. As I’ve said from the start of this article – this is an ambitious project – it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to get it to the point where it needs to be in order to truly be meaningful to the majority of people searching for locations to photograph.
Currently there are only a few dozen locations, most of which are within the United States, so the location you are traveling to probably isn’t yet listed – which means there’s a lot of room to grow. But this is where you can help!
TPS is openly looking for contributors to help fill out the site with locations around the world. If you’ve got an interesting location and know a bit about writing for the web I’d suggest that you check out the write for TPS page and help James get the site rolling – it could be the next big thing in travel photography.
Final Thoughts and Suggestions
Top Photo Spots is a great concept that is too ambitious for the vast majority of people to even attempt – which is why it’s such a good idea. If James can succeed in his vision I think that TPS will become an extremely valuable resource for photographers looking for spots to photograph on their next trip.
That said, I do have a few suggestions for James, and I’m sure he’ll entertain more in the comments – here are the three big things that I’d like to see integrated into the site at some point in the future.
- A visually appealing way to browse through all the currently available locations – sometimes people don’t know where they want to travel, but rather are looking for something to inspire them.
- The ability to print and download guides, or save them to a mobile device. Ideally I’d want to have quick and easy access to the guide when I’m on location without having to refer back to TPS – especially if the location is in a remote location where access to the internet might be limited.
- Integrate TPS with other photographers around the world who are willing to set up photo walks and guides of locations that are featured on TPS. This could take some time – but I think that a site like TPS is set up perfectly for this and would be a huge benefit to people traveling to the new locations. Not only that, but it would set it even further apart from the ‘Google search’ method that we are currently using to find places to photograph.
So go have a look at Top Photo Spots and check out what James has put together so far. Then come back here and tell us what you would add to the TPS wish-list above.