Learning Languages (Not)

Writers, How to Scout a Location

Writers, Have Your Cameras Ready!

  • March 17, 2019
  • Blog

There are three reasons to keep your camera ready at all times, especially when you go out.


Here’s a fact: You never know when you’ll see something and get an idea. And many times, you’ll never know when you’ll use it. But if you’re a writer, you know that writers use everything.

Unfortunately, our memories can be like a leaky sieve. Photos bring it all back with perfect clarity.

I’m not a morning person. But when I had to get up at dawn one day, this scene made me pull over in my car to (safely!) take it. Looking at it makes me remember and feel the scene far better than my memory searching for a dawn scene in the city. And, in turn, will make my description in whatever story I use it for more realistic.


In Magical Ties, Emily is sent to a subway station to investigate the area. The posters on the wall held significance, but I needed to know how they were mounted in order to make my idea work.

As the story continued, with more details adding to the plot, it was easy enough to look at the photo and glean more than from a few scribbled notes.

The camera will see far more than your eye. (Don’t believe me? Look around your room, then take a picture of it. If you think it’s at all messy, make sure you’re sitting down when you look at the photo!)


Sure, there are plenty of beautiful free stock photos you can use. I use them often. But there will be times when the picture you took will be exactly what you need to get your point across. And take a lot of them. The photo at the top was actually the fourth taken of that tree. The first few suffered from a passing car, a stop sign I hadn’t noticed, and people.

Nowadays, carrying your cell phone is all you need to make this happen. I’m not saying it’s the only camera you’ll need, but it’s certainly portable and easy to move to whichever media you prefer.

  • Lydia • March 18, 2019 at 7:23 am

    I like this post. I’m going to start taking more pictures because of it.

  • J. M. Levinton • March 18, 2019 at 10:54 am


  • angel011 • March 18, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Cell phones are simply wonderful for this. A camera gets heavy when I’m tired (which is often), the cell phone doesn’t (plus the one I have now makes better photos than my old camera, the wonders of technology).

  • J. M. Levinton • March 18, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    My digital SLR camera just sits on the shelf. I was never able to get decent night shots and my iPhone nails it. 🙂

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