Many of history's greatest street photographers never shot outside the same small area - they simply walked the same route every day. But how can you match their images without straying from your neighborhood? There are a few simple steps that you can use to weave a professional-quality path for your street shots.
Step 1: Discover
The first step in finding the best shooting locations in your area is developing an understanding of its geography. This can be as simple as using Google Maps on your cell phone or laptop, or it can involve a larger-scale exploration with more sophisticated programs. This doesn't have to be an in-depth mapping project - all you need to do is develop a basic understanding of major geographic features within a half-mile radius of your home. (parks, rivers, etc.) Now you're ready to begin crafting your route.
Step 2: Explore
To really get a feel for your route, I'd recommend staying out for a whole day. Walk your neighborhood, and write a note of any local landmarks, interesting characters, beautiful buildings... anything that catches your eye should be written down. That could be as simple as a crack in a road or as grand as a train station - just walk for as long as possible and find as many spots as you can.
Step 3: Classify
As soon as you get home, put down your camera and open up a computer or mobile device. Type up a list of your locations (this can also be done with pen and paper) and consider their unique qualities. Make as many notes as you can, to help you find just 10 or 12 unique shots that you're interested in coming back to. Next, you're going to plot them on a digital map.
Step 4: Map
Armed with your list of shooting locations, you can now navigate to the useful National Geographic Mapmaker Interactive tool using your web browser. There, you can add pins to mark important locations, draw lines between shooting spots, and create a highly functional map of your neighborhood. This may take some refinement over a period of days or months, but eventually, you'll have a complete guide to your favorite photo spots that you can print out and refer to at any time.
Step 5: Shoot
Grab your camera and your map, head outside, and be creative!