Creating a Catalog of Photo Shoot Locations

Blogger David Hobby recently shared an insightful post on how to make a location catalog — a great practice for on-location photographers since having a database can free up a lot of time and energy when planning a shoot.

I thought I’d build on Mr. Hobby’s post by sharing how I use Evernote to do the job. (Note: I don’t work for Evernote or represent them in any way.) My personal research and testing leads me to believe that this is the most effective method available for any photographer with a GPS-enabled phone or tablet. I first began using Evernote in 2009. This year when I got a smartphone, I started using its GPS capabilities to catalog my locations.

Evernote Is Best of The Applications

Since I always have my phone with me, I can document things while on the go. I took this photo of an ivy-draped wall, a location I wanted to note for future reference.

Before using Evernote, I was using tags in Lightroom. For instance, if I needed a portrait location, I would search: “Location Scout” “Portrait” “Vancouver.” Until recently this method lacked the ability to take notes or view on a map. Lightroom 4 now includes GPS geotagging, but this is not as efficient since many cameras are not equipped with GPS.

I tested other applications before settling on Evernote, including ShootLocal (an iPhone app), Lightroom and Fotopunto. I also researched PocketScout, Map-A-Pic and David Hobby’s method.

To use Evernote to catalog all of your photo shoot locations, Step 1 is to create a free Evernote account and download the application to your mobile devices and computers. Once you’re logged in, create a new notebook and call it “Photo Shoot Locations.” This is where you’ll store your location scouting notes.

Here’s How It Works

Discover a new location? Make a new note on Evernote mobile, then capture photos by tapping the camera icon. Add details, choose a useful title and use tags to simplify future searches. If you need to change or add location data on a note, you can do this from Evernote’s desktop client. Click the “Note Info” button (the “i” at the top right of the screen), then “Add Location.” You can find the coordinates you need on Google Maps (here’s how) or on iTouchMap.

That’s it. Easy, right? The best part is that the third step is the only one you’ll ever have to repeat.

The speed of using Evernote is great. In large cities like Shanghai and Vancouver, where I split my time, it can be helpful to note whether the location is private or public, and if applicable, the property management contact details.

This screenshot shows two locations I recently found in Shanghai:

Save location details in Evernote and the next time you are planning a shoot, you can view a map of all your locations. Just choose the “Photo Shoot Locations” notebook, tap the grid icon, then the map pin icon on the top right. Since I also catalog inspiration and plan shoots within Evernote, it’s helpful to have everything in one place when I need it.

Two Drawbacks of This Method

Desktop clients can’t view multiple notes on a map; this is only available on Evernote mobile. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is leaves something to hope for in future releases.

This method only works with GPS-enabled mobile devices. If you don’t have one, I recommend sticking to David’s technique.

Two (Amazing) Redeeming Qualities

This method is fast! Practically instant. I don’t spend time creating a map or uploading files, since Evernote does it for me. If location catalogs exist to save time, this method is hard to beat.

You can do even more with your Evernote account. Learn to organize inspiration and produce better creative work. I use Evernote every day for a variety of things—so I’m happy to share it with others.

And if you already keep a location catalog, let me know in the comments how your method is different or better!

3 Responses to “Creating a Catalog of Photo Shoot Locations”

  1. I use Evernote for other things, I will have to check into this to see how it works. This is a great tip and thank you for sharing.

  2. My pleasure, John! Let me know how what you think once you've given it a try =)

  3. Take a look also at Map-A-Pic Location Scout ( It not only organizes your locations, but shows you the times of sunrise, sunset, and the Golden hour. Unlike Evernote, it's designed with photographers in mind 🙂

    Please let me know by email if you'd like to review it, and I can send you a promo code for a free copy.

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