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Use ‘Scoutt’ To Location Scout Without Ever Leaving Your House!

By Anthony Thurston on June 14th 2015

Let’s face it, we all love to shoot in wonderful picturesque locations with perfect light and good looking subjects. Finding these perfect locations takes time, though, and unless you have the free time to drive around just looking for them, chances are you aren’t ever going to find them.

scoutt-site

This is especially true if you are a traveling photographer, shooting weddings or other on location work, and you physically can’t do any location scouting in person unless you head out early specifically to location scout. But there is now a new service called Scoutt, and its aim is to help you location scout from the comfort of your own home, all while looking at brilliant imagery from other great photographers.

[REWIND: The Art of Location Scouting]

Scoutt, Location Scout From Your Living Room!

Scoutt is currently in beta, but the site itself and how to use it is pretty simple. You just log in, and you are shown ‘The Map’. You then zoom into the general area where you want to location scout, and you will see little yellow pins where other photographers have uploaded an image.

This allows you to get the lay of the land, and find top quality locations without ever having to leave your house. The weak link here though is that if no one in your area uses Scoutt (which is fairly likely at this point since it is so new) then there may not be any pins for you to check out.

scoutt-2

Some of you are no doubt wondering why you should take the time to share your locations, and Scoutt has the perfect response to that: “Sharing is how this community will be successful. The chances of you shooting at the same unique spot over and over are slim at best. You are essentially trading your used, worn-out location for someone else’s used, worn-out location. “

Think of this like crowdsourcing your location scouting. You share when you find cool locations, and others share when they find cool locations, and in the end, there is a great database of awesome locations for everyone to take advantage of when shooting in a given area.

There is a catch; Scoutt is not a free service. Currently, there is a free 30 day trial (though you do have to select a billing plan and enter your CC information before being allowed access) which allows you to check the service out and kick the tires – so to speak.

My Experience with Scoutt So Far

I recently signed up for the 30-day trial and selected the $7/mo plan option (billed by the year). I have not been charged for my yearly billing yet, so I assume that will happen after my 30 trial is over.

**Update 10/15/15: Scoutt now offers a free membership with no trial period and no need to enter any credit card information!**

scoutt-world

Unfortunately for me, with Scoutt being so new, I am the only photographer in my state to have uploaded any pins at this point. So it has not been the most useful for me as far as scouting locations. That said, with the service being so new, this was to be expected, and as more photographers sign up and begin to use the service, this will resolve itself.

While there are no photographers in my area, there are tons of pins in areas I plan to visit in the near future, so this has been really neat to be able to see the sort of locations available before ever going there.

You can also search for locations by photographer, so if you know someone who is constantly wowing you with their locations, you can follow them on Scoutt and get some ideas of where to go for some awesome locations.

But as I alluded to above, this whole concept doesn’t work if you only use the service to find locations for yourself. You also need to be uploading and sharing locations of your own for this to be successful and truly useful to yourself and others.

The process of uploading an image is simple enough. You just click on the pin icon, and then ‘drop’ the pin on the location where you shot the image. Then you select the image you want to upload, add some tags, say if a permit was required or not, and you are good to go.

scoutt

Multiple people can upload images of a specific location too, so when you are looking for a location, you can see a variety of images if the location is popular. A really nice touch, and one that keeps the map from getting overcrowded.

Final Impressions on Scoutt

Overall, I see a lot of potential in this service. According to the website, there will be a mobile app coming soon, which will make uploading and sharing locations that much easier. But the biggest hurdle for the service, in my opinion, will be getting photographers to discover and use it consistently.

scoutt-profile

The service is useless if no one uploads images and locations, and right now, there are a lot of areas where no one has uploaded anything yet. I feel like the 30-day trial is a good way to bring people in, but making them select a plan and enter a credit card before getting access is a deterrent.

**Update 10/15/15: Scoutt now offers a free membership with no trial period and no need to enter any credit card information!**

Honestly, I feel like a ‘Freemium’ model would suit a service like this better – at least while it is getting started. You need to gain users and gain them fast. Any road blocks between a potential user and using the service is a bad idea.

That said, Scoutt is off to a great start in many locations, and I can see this going far. So head on over to Scoutt.com and check it out for yourself today!

**Update** Scoutt has reached out and offered up a special 6-month free trial to SLR Lounge readers. Simple sign up, and enter the coupon code slrlounge to get a 6-month trial, rather than the usual one month. **

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joram J

    Fill in CC info before i can trail this? Sorry guys, but a CC isn’t as common as it is in the states.
    Would love to trail it, but no gonna dump my cc info right away.

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  2. Keith Sheridan

    There is a free app called Scene Scout that does essentially the same thing and has the same issue, not enough users.

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  3. Mike Frederick

    I think I would use this to scout places when I travel and have no real idea of the lay of the land and don’t have a lot of time to learn it. I too hate free trials that want my credit card info upfront and can be deal killers for me.

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    • Shea Dunn

      I agree, I definitely am not a fan of free trials that require a credit card upfront. I usually pass when I run into that. I think Squarespace does it right – a free trial is a free trial, and I have been a very loyal customer since my first trial – for about 7 years and multiple sites.
      That said, I’m very interested in Scoutt! I have been looking for something like this for a very long time. I hope other people sign up and start adding locations so it can be a great service (any Minnesota photographers out there?). For 6 months free, I’ll give it a go!

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  4. Andy Shrestha

    If there were ALREADY amazing places spotted and shown by the scoutt, it would make sense.

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  5. Matthew Saville

    Since Google Earth and Panoramio have been around forever, the question of whether or not it is a good thing to share our “secret spots” has been something that I’ve dealt with innumerable times both personally, and in workshop / teaching environments.

    My opinion is this: We all need our own secret spots. Whether we’re portrait shooters or landscape photographers, having a secret spot that is our own place of zen is extremely important. However, I still have plenty to share. Plenty of places were already shared with me by other photographers, so who am I to “keep them to myself” so to speak? I’d share a few photos from here or there, as currency in exchange for being able to discover even more locations through a private network like this.

    However, preservation comes into play, at least for me personally, and I will forever be hesitant to share images from certain locations. Some people get mad about this, expressing genuine anger towards someone who refuses to share a secret location. Honestly, I think that misses the whole point of having an adventure. So what, the internet isn’t making your life as easy as it possibly can? The internet doesn’t owe you a damn thing, and if someone went through the trouble to find a location themselves, whether or not they decide to share it with others is their own prerogative. In my opinion, anybody who truly loves the outdoors and adventure photography should be willing to either do enough research online / offline to actually find a place all by themselves, or at least put enough effort into genuinely connect with folks who have been to a spot, so that they might share a spot with you once you know you’re not just some yahoo that can’t be trusted to not abuse / deface / damage the places that we hold so dear.

    I hope this helps people understand both sides of the argument, and I wish Scoutt the best of luck in their endeavors! I think there is certainly a niche market to be explored in this realm, if the business model can be tweaked to perfection. :-)

    =Matt=

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    • Dustin Baugh

      I don’t really like keeping spots secret. The whole reason I got into photography was to show places off.

      I definitely wish some places were more secret as I see people abuse them, but I don’t want to punish all people based off a few bad photographers. I also think you’d end up with very different perspectives between portrait photogs vs, Landscape and Travel photogs.

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    • Dustin Baugh

      I have a massive database in google “My Maps” of places I’ve been or want to scout. And I’d love a good place to share this kind of stuff but so far nothing I’ve seen really measures up.

      Unfortunately Scoutt doesn’t seem to want to accept my credit card info for even a test run so I guess I stick to my own database.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Dustin, indeed, the difference is going to be huge between landscape / travel / adventure photographers, and a portrait photographer.

      This is because some places do in fact need to be protected from excessive traffic, especially by disrespectful / abusive folks who would do harm to a natural location.

      It’s not a sense of superiority or entitlement that causes one outdoor photographer to withhold GPS coordinates from another. It is a pure love for that place, and the terrible fear that, if “put on blast”, a location could be damaged.

      I’m happy to share a delicate location with close friends, or even online acquaintances if I know I can trust them. But complete strangers, hundreds or thousands of them? Sometimes, but not always.

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  6. Uncle Bob

    I was curious but not completely sold on the idea. When I saw the free 6 month SLR Lounge trial though I figured it might be worth taking a look….. But then I got to the credit card info page and decided to bail. Free trials that require your billing info upfront is a pet peeve of mine.

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  7. Ralph Hightower

    I saw something similar to this a while back. I just wish that I could remember the web site. But it was again, dependent upon people posting photos with location information.

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  8. Dave Haynie

    Seems kind of cool, though I don’t think it works until they have enough content. Digging out my startup company hat, I’d claim the usual/proven way to build that kind of content is to give away a basic service (infinite uploads, a limited number of free scouts) and offer a premium service once that’s something worth paying for (eg, the “freemium” model: Evernote, Skype, Linked-In, Connectify, Pandora, Dropbox, practically every new phone/tablet videogame) or gameify it (one free scout for every 5 uploads or some-such). The 30-day demo is probably sufficient at this time to let you know it’s not yet something you’d find a $7/mo. value using.

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    • Aron Goss

      Dave, we are now offering SLR Lounge members a six month trial to do exactly that. The more members that take us up on our offer, the closer we get to becoming the service you hope we become. Please consider trying us out and adding to our growing map of location around the world.

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    • Dave Haynie

      That’s good! I suspect most users will suss out the value of the idea pretty quickly. It’s a cool idea — not something I’d use all the time, but I do scout out photo opportunities when I travel, even if the travel is not strictly photography related. And in the early days, building that content and ensuring the UI works are likely to be the keys to success.

      Have you tried Waze as a navigation tool? Pretty good today, but I gave it a shot when it first came out… buggy and not too knowledgeable of the roads in my area. Crowdsourcing content is a great idea IF you can find a good way to jumpstart that content enough to keep the users happy… even if it’s free. And certainly, the value will build with time.

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  9. Aron Goss

    We are happy to listen to your comments and want Scoutt to make sense for you. We are happy to offer SLRLounge readers a free 6 month trial. Simply select the 6 month subscription and enter the promo code slrlounge. Hope you enjoy.

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  10. Paul Empson

    I’m sure there are many, shot hot spot, style location apps, sites & search engines… that use local knowledge to build a searchable map for people to reference… many of the urbex sites positively discourage identifying locations as they get descended upon by locust like photographers… and quickly ruined.. by the local dropouts: burned, littered or sprayed with un-creative graffiti…

    Time on google scouting a place in conjunction with a google earth flyby tends to be my preferred method of site recon…

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    • Thomas Horton

      Google earth has been a valuable reconnaissance tool for photographs for a while.

      It was a lot tougher before google earth.

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  11. Aron Goss

    Hi Everyone. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and check out what we are about. We are happy to answer any questions you might have, either here, via email or over on our Facebook page.

    Yes we decided that a clean platform that is ad free would be a better user experience when choosing between a subscription or ad based model. That being said, we are listening. We would love for you to try us out during our free month offer. Afterwards if you see benefit in the platform, we are the same price as a Latte currently, a small investment in your business.

    Many thanks to Anthony and SLRLounge for taking the time to review Scoutt.

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  12. Thomas Horton

    There used to be a site, I think it was called “where the pros shoot” that did the same thing. For some reason that site is no longer active.

    I think this is a good idea, the the monthly fee of 7.00 is a bit much. Especially, as the author points out, it is really only useful if there is a large customer base.

    Much better to wait until everyone else forks over the 7 per before I join… the problem is that many people will feel the same way. :)

    Who wants to be the first person to pay 7 per month to post the locations of only their pictures?

    Even this were populated, I am having a difficult time imagining how this could be worth 7 per month to me.

    $84 per year may not seem a lot.. when considered by itself. But with more and more businesses moving to subscriptions, these “not very much” subscriptions add up. That’s what the marketing department is counting on…

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    • Aron Goss

      Hi Thomas,

      We had 100 photographers from around the world populate the map with locations before we launched so I can assure you there are plenty of locations already waiting for you. That being said, if everyone signed up and added 3-5 images/locations, you would have the coverage you are looking for. The chicken before the egg is always a tough hurdle. I can assure you we are listening to your comments as well and will take them into serious consideration.

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  13. Scott Mosley

    Why is this not free? they want the paying customers to also be the contributors to their program?! A basic google search is much more fruitful. The site we plan to launch (nov 2015) is free and requires focal length time of day/year complete with shooter instructions: “unless overcast, this wall is in the sun until 2 hrs before sunset” or “need to walk 15 minutes uphill” for real shooting expectations. Our current plan is only for California locations but who knows…?

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  14. Geoffrey Van Meirvenne

    Agree, for now it should be free it they want to fill up their database. Like this (paying with limited spots) I don’t think it will survive. People will drop out if there are not enough spots across the globe.

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    • Aron Goss

      Thanks for your comment Geoffrey. We would love for you to check us out for yourself during our free month trial. We are currently seeing hundreds of locations being added daily. Adding locations yourself and following photographers who’s work you admire is a great way of ensuring this community thrives.

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  15. Tom Johnson

    I have to agree, I think this could be a nice tool, but having a monthly subscription fee, I don’t think so.

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  16. Brian McCue

    They should be giving away the service until the build a database. Google has a free product that is similar, panoramio.com. I like the idea of seeing the places to get the best photos of an area, just can’t see paying for it.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      The cost is rather minimal, and I would much rather pay a small bit once a year than have a ton of crappy ads all over the place and free access. That is just me though.

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    • Aron Goss

      Thanks for your comment Brian. The difference is social sharing of locations between professional photographers. Panoramio is great for showing a beautiful mountain or park, but as a professional wedding photographer, it is the alleys and unique walls that we are often looking for that get overlooked by an application not designed by photographers. We would love for you to give us a try to see the difference for yourself.

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  17. Jesper Ek

    do we need this at all?

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    • Brian McCue

      Agreed

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Do you NEED it? No, probably not. If it lives up to its potential, will it make your life, and the life of other photographers (especially traveling) easier? Yes.

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    • Thomas Horton

      Most things associated with photography we don’t *need*. :)

      There are things we want and things that can make our photography easier/better.

      But there is only a few things we need in photography.

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    • Laurence Lee

      Agreed, especially when you can have this type of service free form pashadelic.com I’m not endorsing nor have affiliate with the company. I just happened to like their mobile apps that give you the location in real time sunrise/sunset as well as moon-rise/moonset

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    • Robert Eilers

      Do you? Maybe not. Do others, potentially. Look at out of location shoots for weddings. We as photographers are not islands so sharing with a community only grows the community.

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    • Robert Eilers

      I would like to see a free version of something like this. More rural areas will have a harder time with something like this. And it will only help if the community is willing to share and grow. From my experience in some areas photographers look at themselves like island sometimes.

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