Quick Tips To Plan Your Photography Trip – Part 2
Alright you’ve started planning your next trip. That’s awesome. You’re probably here because you’ve read Quick tips to plan your photography tips – Part 1.
In this mini series of 3 articles I’m sharing what’s the best way to plan a photo trip when you don’t know or have limited knowledge of a place, based on my previous experience and researches I made. After the end of this series you’ll be able to identify locations and make a list of places and alternative routes to reach them. You will have a better idea of how to plan a photography trip, how to choose your gear and what tools you need to get the most out of your trip.
I’m so glad you found your way to part 2! Let’s briefly recap what we’ve seen in part 1:
- Your planning tools
- Who is your travel partner?
- Vacation or travel adventure?
- Travelling in Low-season
- Do your research
- Your photos list
- Your locations list
- Asking friends
- List of websites and apps
- Using Google Maps
Wow that’s quite a lot! In part 2 I want to introduce you to a tool that Google introduced long time ago (in 2007) to allow you to create custom maps for personal use. You can also share the maps you create and other people can see and collaborate on the creation of a map.
How To Create Your Own Map With Google
I’m going to assume everyone knows what is Google maps and how to find it, but just as a quick refresher, you can find maps at https://maps.google.com. With Maps you can research locations you want to put in your list and have a first but accurate idea of where you will go, search for the exact location and make sure you have enough places to start your own custom map.
Not everybody knows that Google allows you create a map with the MyMaps feature of Google Maps. You can access MyMaps from https://www.google.com/mymaps or from https://maps.google.com you can click the side menu and access “Your Places”
Now you can click on Create a New Map. You will get redirected to the map of your Country (Google know where you are) and from there you can move around and start adding locations to the map.
If you play and get familiar with it a bit, you’ll see that it is pretty intuitive and user friendly.
How to find locations in MyMaps
Type the name of the location
By start typing the name of a location in the search bar at the top, you’ll be shown some suggestions and when you select the one you’re interested in, a green marker will be added on the map.
Type the coordinates in the search bar
Another way of searching a location is by typing in the search bar the exact GPS coordinates. You might try this by going on https://www.google.com and typing something like “Sydney Opera House coordinates”. Google knows exactly what you mean and will show you this.
Now if you copy and paste those coordinates into the map you’ll get the same result as before: green marker on the exact spot you needed.
Manually Add a Marker to MyMaps
Another way of adding a location is by simply doing it manually.
Underneath the search bar you can see a set of little icons. The marker icon is what you need. Pan and zoom to the point you want and add a marker. You can now enter a custom name and description for that location.
In the description I usually write notes such as: “Traffic closed by 10pm” or something like that. I also add useful links to local websites or useful resources I might need when I’m on location.
By clicking on the little pencil icon you can modify Title and Description and by clicking and dragging the Marker itself you can re-position it. If you hit save you’ll now have your first Marker with some custom information. Well done!
The Marker’s style can be completely customized. This is my favorite part. Click on the bucket icon and change color and icon of the marker. You can also add your own image. I like to make restaurants on my map look different from museums or lookouts etc.
Don’t underestimate Layers
With Layers you can easily create group of markers. So for example you are travelling to Japan and in your research you are listing some good restaurants you want to go to when you’re in Tokyo. At the same time you don’t want those markers to clutter the map too much since you’ll have also added markers for photo locations or places to sleep. With layers you can hide/show your groups and have everything well organized.
The next step when you’ve categorized all your location and your map is become more and more rich in details and information is to add directions to link and show hot to reach those locations.
How to add directions to your Map
I’ve used this a lot. Even though you can’t really use it for voice guided transportation on Google Maps, it will highlight your routes and it’s very useful for when you’re travel includes driving from a place to another like I did in New Zealand.
The route will go on its own layer on the map and you can assign 10 points to each Transportation layer.
You can have different transportation modes in your Map
Driving routes, walking route and biking. They’ll all go to a separate layer, so they can’t be combined. A walking layer will only have walking trails and so forth.
Type of Map
You can choose the type of map you prefer as a base by clicking on the Base map dropdown menu. You have different options, such as Satellite map, Dark landmass, Mono City etc. Choose the one you prefer and that make your visual navigation through the various points you added easy.
Save and Share your map
Google offers a series of really powerful tools that work really well together such as Google drive https://drive.google.com/drive/my-drive there is where your map will be saved. As long as you have a google account you will have access to all the products Google offer for free.
You can create a Google account here https://accounts.google.com/signup.
While you work on your map, it will be automatically saved on your Google drive account so you can find it there anytime and from any device you have when you’ve logged on your Google account. Really powerful.
You can add collaborators to your map, share it with someone and this is another feature I love since it makes it so much easier to work with someone else organizing a trip. The share button is on the left sidebar menu at the top. After clicking you’ll be prompted a window where you can add collaborators emails and they’ll receive a link with the map. You can decide if they are able to only view the map, or if they can edit your map so that they can work with you.
Alright I think I’ve given you a good number of info on maps, but this is by no mean a complete tutorial on how to use this Google feature. I highly recommend you go on YouTube and look for tutorials and complete guides on how to use MyMaps and you’ll find a lot of very useful videos.
I don’t want to add too much to this Part 2 so that you can concentrate on playing with Google MyMaps, create your own custom map and get familiar with the tool that by far is the most useful planning tool for me for my travel photography trips.
In Part 3 we’ll see hot to refine your list and other useful websites you need to keep in mind when planning your travel. We’ll also see what are the best photography gear to bring with you when you travel and where to find them. So stay tuned and I’ll see you on part 3!
If you haven’t already, check out part 1 here: Quick tips to plan your photography tips – Part 1
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Writing articles like this one takes time and effort. I’m really happy to share with you these tips because it took me so long to put together a good and efficient planning process for my trips. If you are finding what I write useful and want to help me out, please please please, share this article on your social media by using the buttons below, you can also find sharing buttons on the left hand side of the page. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get updates and know when my next article is out! Thank you!