Have you ever been driving around and saw an amazing place that would be perfect for your next shoot? Only to forget all about it later. This evening my friend Jeremy Kester, owner of H.H. Boogie, shared with me an innovative way for photographers to share shoot locations. It's free, it's easy and it's probably already on your phone.
My guess is you already have the Facebook Messenger app on your phone. Most of us do. It is a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends. But did you know that each time you send out a message you are also (unless you turned the feature off, which most of us have not) sending out your exact location as well. This little feature that most of us probably don't even realize exists is actually happening each time we send a message to anyone from our phone. Using the GPS on the device, Facebook embeds your location inside the message.
Now I am not talking about the city and state that it shows on the bottom of the message. I am talking about your exact location down to a few feet. Kind of scary when you actually think about it. After all, this feature could be used in bad situations - for instance giving your location away to someone that might use it to harm you. To avoid this from happening I'll share how to turn this feature off a little later in the article.
But, it can also be used for good. One fantastic idea that came to mind as Jeremy and I spoke this evening was to have an ongoing chat among a few photographer friends that are local to your area. As you each come across a great area that could be used in a shoot - take a photo of the location and post it into the ongoing chat. You and your friends can now always reference that location and get the exact location to it including a map. Here's an example from a chat this evening.
Here's how it works. Once someone posts a message from their phone, click on the message. Make sure you are clicking on the message not the photo. There you will be able to click on the details button. Once you've done that you will bring up a map of the general area.
Click on it once more and it will use a map app from your phone to zoom right in on the location, within just a few feet. You can now use your map app to help navigate you to the location and if using Google Maps even see the street view.
How cool would it be to have a group of photographers with an open ongoing chat where each time someone found a cool location that they want to share with a group of close friends they could post a photo along with a brief message? Then in the future either that person or their friends in the chat could access the exact location just by clicking on the accompanying message. No more need to write out an address, or try to describe how to find the location. Simple, free, and uses an app most of us already have on our phones.
Now as I mentioned above this little location tracker could also be used for unscrupulous reasons. If you would like to turn it off permanently just dive into the Messenger app settings and look for the "Location" menu. There you can request that it not track your location and include it with your messages. You can also turn it off selectively by simply clicking the blue arrow which is located right next to the SEND button. But you need to do this before sending your message. As long as the blue arrow is greyed out your message should not include your location information.
So there you go. An innovative way for photographers to collaborate with their friends (or team) on shoot locations and have the exact GPS coordinates to get there, all through a simple messaging app most of us already use on a daily basis.
If you found this tip helpful go visit H.H. Boogie's website and show them some love. They make incredible handcrafted products for photographers to sell. All kinds of goodness there.