Well-known and popular locations are a sure bet for great images you know will work, but this can come at the cost of originality as well as being incredibly busy
In a world of social media and the pursuit of likes, the list of honeypot locations is constantly growing; it’s growing faster than ever before. As soon as someone posts a great image of an unknown place, it doesn’t take long before the masses discover its location and you begin to see many images, often almost identical, posted online and the location quickly becomes a honeypot.
Honeypot locations are simply photo spots that are popular and well-known among photographers. A good honeypot location is one where there’s a strong focal point such as rocks, a waterfall, a lone tree, a castle, a row of trees, groynes on the beach or anything iconic that sits within the landscape and provides visual interest within an interesting composition.
"Honeypot locations are simply photo spots that are popular and well-known among photographers."
There’s a joke among photographers that in some busy locations it’s almost a case of ‘insert tripod legs here’ because everyone takes exactly the same shot during their visit. Not all honeypot locations are like this, but at some, there are only one or two compositions that work so you’re limited to using the same composition as everyone else who has shot there before.
This certainly doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit the location because they’re tried and tested spots where you know that you have a good chance of taking some great photos. With the location already a winner, you simply need to be on location at the right time of day and hopefully experience ideal weather conditions.
When shooting at any honeypot location, it’s often best to take the archetypal shot first so you have a great image of the location. Once this is covered, you can then experiment with different viewpoints, compositions and techniques that will hopefully yield more interesting and unique images with the knowledge you already have an image that works to fall back on.
Pros and cons of honeypot locations
The advantage of honeypot locations is that they can present the perfect opportunity to expand your portfolio. They can even be great places for trying new techniques because you have fewer variables to think about and can focus on the technical side of photography. But it’s not all positive, and there are some distinct disadvantages to shooting these locations. First and foremost, you’ll often find that you have essentially the same image as others, but perhaps the most challenging aspect is the sheer number of photographers that will be at a location at the perfect shooting time. This can sometimes make it difficult to even take the shot you were hoping for.
Top 10 UK areas for honeypot locations
The UK may be a fairly small collection of countries, but there are enough amazing landscape locations to keep any landscape photographer busy for a lifetime.
Here’s a list of some of the best locations in the UK for finding both honeypot locations and those that are little or even unknown. It’s not a definitive list, there are many more areas where you can shoot amazing landscapes, but this list will set you on the path to finding many more great locations.
Top 10 honeypot sites in the UK:
1 The Lake District
2 The Peak District
3 The Yorkshire Dales
5 The Jurassic Coast
7 The Brecon Beacons
8 Glen Coe / the Scottish Highlands
9 The Cairngorms
10 The Isle of Skye
Author tip: Keep your locations a secret:
If you find a great landscape spot that’s never been photographed before, the best way to try to stop it from becoming a honeypot location is to keep the exact location a secret.
Some photographers guard the whereabouts of lesser-known locations with their lives because they’ve often put in a lot of hard work to find them. And even if the location was stumbled upon accidentally, the desire to keep the location secret remains because it means the photographer has unique images that few, if any, other photographers have in their portfolios.
UK honeypot locations every landscape photographer should visit
1 Winnats Pass, Peak District, England
The Peak District needs little introduction, and one of the most popular areas is Hope Valley where you’ll find the mesmerising Winnats Pass. After an easy 15-minute walk you’ll find yourself high above the valley floor, with rugged limestone cliffs and a road meandering through the gorge. This is a great spot for cloud inversions at the right times of the year, so if you time your visit well and are lucky, you could experience one of the most exciting natural phenomena.
2 The lone tree at Llyn Padarn, Llanberris, North Wales
Snowdonia in North Wales is bursting with honeypot locations alongside many virtually unknown spots. But one where you can guarantee an abundance of photographers at sunrise is the famous lone tree at the edge of Llyn Padarn in Llanberris. It’s just a 30-second walk from where you park, so getting there is incredibly easy. And the lone tree is a popular spot for good reason; it’s a picturesque tree with the lake in the middle distance and rugged mountains dominating the background where the sun rises.
3 Hartland Quay, Devon, England
North Devon is well-known among photographers for its rugged coastline, and Hartland Quay is one of the most impressive spots in the area. Facing west, this is a sunset spot and although the location as a whole is incredibly popular, it’s still a location where you can capture images that aren’t identical to others. Of course, people will recognise the location, but it’s certainly not a place where there’s only one composition so the possibilities are almost endless.
4 Buachaille Etive Mor, Glen Coe, Scotland
Glen Coe is one of those places where you’re never too far away from a stunning photo spot, whether well known or slightly more obscure. It’s such a popular location that it’s difficult to find unique locations, but you can vary compositions and viewpoints to capture something slightly different. The Buachaille Etive Mòr waterfall is one of the most photographed in the world, and it’s a bit of a one-shot spot, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth 10 minutes of your time while in the area.
5 The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Isle of Skye is easily one of the best landscape photography locations in the world. The rugged mountains, waterfalls, dramatic cliffs and rugged beaches are the stuff of photographers’ dreams. The Fairy Pools with the Black Cuillin Mountains in the background are a 20-minute walk from the car park and offer several different compositions. There are also plenty of other spots along the stream and on the glen itself, so this is a spot where you could easily whittle away a few hours of shooting.
6 Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland, England
Northumberland offers some of the best seascape locations in the UK, all within a small area of coastline. And while the most popular location by far is Bamburgh Beach with the Castle looming in the distance, Dunstanburgh Castle is equally interesting and can be shot at both sunrise and sunset despite being on the east coast. The spherical rocks in Embleton bay make fantastic foreground interest, but take care when walking over and between them because they’re unbelievably slippery.
Author tip: Avoid the crowds
Some honeypot locations are so popular that it’s possible to see as many as 20 photographers trying to shoot at the same time. Sometimes, this can work because people take turns in the optimal spot so everyone gets a turn. But other times, the first person there hogs the best spot and you’re relegated to the periphery.
One way to avoid this issue is to choose honeypot locations wisely because not all are as busy as others. Alternatively, you can avoid them completely to focus on more unique places. This approach takes a lot more effort, but the rewards can often be greater.
James is a freelance photographer and journalist producing content for photography magazines and websites and is a former deputy editor of Practical Photography magazine. He’s also the author of The Digital Darkroom: The Definitive Guide to Photo Editing.View all articles