What makes a great location?

A trip to Saltwick Bay got me reflecting on what makes a truly great location for photography.
I visited Saltwick Bay (again) last night and I was struck by how great a photographic location it is. I spent a couple of happy hours photographing the rock details near the cliff as the tide went out and was then treated to 20 sublime minutes after sunset, with the pink of the sky reflected in the wet rock platforms contrasting with the cold, blue light.

This made me reflect on what makes a great location. Well obviously it must be capable of yielding great photographs. But there are many places that are, in essence, a one shot wonder. Great photographs may be produced at such places but they are not, in my opinion, great locations.

So what makes a location truly great? For me, the top five factors are:

  • A variety of good subject interest – there must be scope for vistas and also lots of detail suitable for inner landscape images, so that good images can be had in a variety of conditions
  • Great light – the essence of photography. It must have good light, at a time that is (relatively) predictable
  • Uniqueness – it must have something that sets it apart from the ordinary
  • Depth – it must keep yielding new things on repeat visits
  • Scope for new ideas – it must allow the scope for original, innovative images or at least fresh interpretation.
Saltwick, for me, would score very highly on all 5 criteria. In my next article I will discuss how to find good (or perhaps even great) locations. You may also find my list of favourite UK locations interesting.

© Jon Brock 2007