How to Find Interesting Locations for Black & White Photography

How to Find Interesting Locations for Black & White Photography

Editor's note: This month only – check out our brand new Creative Assignment Cards (all 250 of them) for just $19! Click here to learn more. Thanks for reading, Andrew.

One of the challenges of black and white photography is finding interesting places to photograph. To my mind, there are two types of place that are interesting to photograph in black and white. The first is the landscape. The second is the urban environment when traveling (in other words, street and travel photography).

In both cases you can use black and photography to:

  • Photograph the urban or natural environment without color.
  • Capture the mood or spirit of place.

Let’s look at this idea in more detail.

Finding Interesting Locations for Black & White Landscape Photography

The first step when it comes to finding interesting locations for black and white landscape photography is to think about making photos in your local area. This has huge benefits for both your budget (no need to pay for accommodation) and time (you shoot whenever you have a few hours to spare).

I suggest making a list of places you’d like to photograph within a 30 minute drive of where you live, within an hour’s drive and within two hours. This helps you get organized and makes your photography sessions easier to plan. If you know you have a few hours to spare at the weekend, then you can decide which of your shortlisted locations you’d like to go ahead and visit, and do it.

Not everybody lives within easy reach of a photogenic landscape. But that doesn’t matter. Even if you do, working locally gives you a chance to rethink how you photograph your local landscape.

Forget about the sort of iconic landscapes you see on Instagram. Think about light, weather and what you might call the ordinary landscape instead. It’s about capturing simple, but beautiful scenes. It’s like writing a few lines in a poem, compared to a best selling novel.

To give you the idea, here are some photos that I made locally, within walking distance of where I was living at the time.

black and white photography

black and white photography

black and white photography

Having said that, it doesn’t matter how interesting your local area is, you’ll still need to travel further afield to add more variety and interest to your portfolio of landscape photos.

A few years ago I spent the summer months in northern Spain. The landscape was beautiful and magical – I’m not there now but I can still feel its spell. My memories of long summer evenings and hauntingly lovely landscapes will stay with me forever.

Long exposure black & white seascape taken in Asturias, Spain

I had the opportunity to create lots of beautiful black and white landscape photos in Spain, but only because I made the effort to be there. Part of that effort is research. Look at photos made by other photographers, and learn more about the places you’d like to travel to for landscape photography.

Again, it’s a great idea to keep a list of places that you’d like to visit for landscape photography, but are far away enough that you’ll need to travel and stay there, whether in your own country or overseas.

With a shortlist of potential destinations in mind, you can see which ones are practical from the point of view of both budget and time. It’s also worth making a list of dream destinations – the ones you’ll only have the opportunity to travel to when the time is right and you have the resources and spare time to do so. They can be part of your bucket list. They give you something to save up for and look forward to.

If you want to become a better photographer and take your landscape photography to the next level, then this combination of exploring your local landscape, finding your own personalized and intimate way of photographing it, and travelling to more exotic locations when you can and immersing yourself in landscape photography while you are there, is the way to do it.

Finding Interesting Locations for Black & White Street and Travel Photography

The same ideas apply to photographing the urban environment. Depending on where you live, you may have interesting locations close to hand. Or you may need to travel a long way to photograph the cities, countries and cultures that interest you. And of course, there are times when you can combine landscape and street and travel photography on the same trip.

It’s time to make another list of places you’d like to visit. This is a personal list based on your preferences, which may be strongly influenced by the work of photographers you admire.

To get the best results in black and white think about the things that, for you, sum up the spirit of the place you’re planning to visit. It helps if these things have interesting textures and tonal contrast, as these look great in black and white (see my article A Simple Tip For Better Black And White Photos for more about this idea).

Here are some examples from my travels. Note the quality of the light and the simplicity of the composition as well as the texture and tonal contrast.

black and white photography

Above: San Antonio De Lipez, Bolivia

black and white photography

Above: Beijing, China

black and white photography

Above: Andalusia, Spain

black and white photography

Above: Delhi, India

Final thoughts

Location choice is an important part of landscape, street and travel photography, especially when working in black and white. Choose the right locations and you’ll dramatically increase the odds of coming home with a set of great black and white photos. Don’t underestimate the amount of hard preparation work the best photographers go to in order to bring you the best photos possible. Putting the ideas in this article into action will help you do the same.

The Black & White Landscape ebookThe Black & White Landscape

The Black & White Landscape is an in-depth ebook that teaches you how to create beautiful black and white landscape photos. Learn how to use expressive techniques like ICM and long exposure photography, and how to master your gear using tripods and filters.

Creative Assignment Cards

Introducing Lightroom Classic ebookThanks for reading. You can get more great articles and tips about photography in my popular Mastering Photography email newsletter. Join today and I’ll send you 47 PhotoTips cards and my ebook Introducing Lightroom Classic . Over 30,000 photographers subscribe. Enter your email now and join us.

About Andrew S. Gibson

Andrew S. Gibson is a writer with a camera. He started writing about photography while traveling in Bolivia, and has been published in many prestigious photography magazines including EOS magazine, where he worked as a Writer and Technical Editor for two years. He lives in south Devon in the UK and is inspired by meeting new people, seeing new places and having new experiences. Check out his photography ebooks here.

Leave a Comment