Meet Explorest, the photo-scouting app curated by real photographers


GPS-enabled cameras allow automated software to put photos on the map, giving photographers and travelers an idea of where to explore next. But automated programs will mix in those stunning landscapes with cat photos and duck-lipped selfies — leaving lots of digging left to scout out the best views. One startup is aiming to change that by curating locations from real, human photographers. Explorest is a new iOS photo-scouting app that mixes the best views with photography tips and tricks from local shutterbugs and influential Instagrammers. After launching in Singapore in July 2017, Explorest expanded to California on April 24.

Several apps and websites already suggest photo locations by pulling photos from the web and using the GPS metadata to show exactly where the view was shot. Explorest is different, CEO and co-founder Justin Myers explains, because the app is 100 percent curated, from the suggested locations to the best times to shoot and even how to get there. That means the app is filled with only pro shots — and pro recommendations.

The app, which officially launched July 17, 2017, for Singapore, now recommends locations in California. The company plans to continue expanding by inviting local photographers worldwide to contribute to the program. The start-up encourages photographers to help by sharing half of the app’s revenue with the contributors.

The second biggest way that Explorest differentiates itself from options like Streetography and Photo Hotspots is in the level of detail, Myers says, often listing information that isn’t easily accessible on the internet. For each location, Explorest lists the exact GPS coordinates and how far away that spot is from the user’s current location. While the program allows users to easily pull up directions inside Apple’s native Maps app with a tap, insight from the photographer on just how to get there is available, too, pointing out obscure locations and spots that require a bit of walking as well as noting whether it’s easier to hop on a subway or drive.

Along with how to get there, Explorest helps photographers plan by suggesting the best times to visit — including the “magic hour” times for the golden hour, blue hour, sunrise, and sunset — and what to pack. Real-time weather for the location is also integrated into the app. The exact photo specs are also listed, along with at least three technical or compositional tips from the photographer. The app also includes a list of recommended things to see and do nearby.

“Compared to other products, we personally vet every piece of information — our entire app is vetted,” Myers said. “We interview photographers before building location insights. The users can trust that the information is not only from local photographers, but accurate and something to depend on.”

The photo scouting app built by photographers is also designed to personalize the results to each individual user. At the first log-in, the program asks photographers a series of brief questions to determine their photo style and what they like to shoot. Based on those answers, the program will prioritize architectural locations to those photographers who choose architecture, for example. While the personalization is based on that initial series of questions, the program is a form of artificial intelligence which will continue improving personal recommendations the more the user interacts with the app.

Inside Explorest, users can search by keywords, view the closest locations or sort by genre or the newest locations. The app also saves locations and users can also mark which spots they’ve already visited and even take a photo or jot down notes in-app while there.

Myers founded Explorest with professional photographer and Instagrammer Michael Lax. After Lax realized how much time he spent searching the web and asking for in-person recommendations for new locations (sometimes only to miss the best shot time) the two partnered to develop a solution.

“One of the most common questions I come across on Instagram is, ‘where was this photo taken?’” Lax said. “To answer this, we’ve essentially built a digital location scout that allows people to quickly access a premier database of photo locations curated by locals who have insider knowledge about a given area. One of my favorite things about Explorest is that it can be used for so many purposes for photographers and travelers alike, including finding the perfect setting for an engagement proposal or simply wanting to experience the most epic views on vacation.”

For the California launch, the state’s locations will be unlocked for a limited time. Full access to all of the app’s features is available for $6 a month, or $30 a year from the App Store.

Updated on April 30: Added expansion to California. 

Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.

Latest Facebook bug exposed up to 6.8 million users’ private photos

An API bug recently left an impact on Facebook users. Though the issue has since been fixed, some of the apps on the platform had a wrongful access to consumers photos for 12 days between September 13 and September 25. 
Smart Home

The best air fryers deliver fried food with a fraction of the calories

What is this magical mechanism? It's an air fryer, and when used correctly, it can mimic the effects of frying while using just a little bit of oil. You still get that crispy, golden exterior and the fluffy center.
Smart Home

Knock, knock. Who's there? With a video doorbell, you'll never have to guess

When it comes to knowing who's at your door before you actually open it, there's nothing better than a video doorbell. Plus, you can "answer" the door even if you're not home. Here are some of our favorites.

Photographers can now customize the layout of Lightroom Classic controls

Tired of scrolling past Lightroom tools that you don't use? Adobe Lightroom Classic now allows users to reorganize the Develop panel. The update comes along with new sharing options in Lightroom CC, and updates to the mobile Lightroom app.
Social Media

Instagram could be making a special type of account for influencers

Instagram influencers fall somewhere between a business profile and a typical Instagram, so the company is working on developing a type of account just for creators. The new account type would give creators more access to analytical data.

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

These are the best action cameras money can buy

Action cameras are great tools for capturing videos of your everyday activities, whether it's a birthday party or the steepest slope you've ever descended on your snowboard. These are the best money can buy.

Canon holiday sale features the Rebel T6 2-lens kit for just $449

If you have a budding photographer in your life in need of a real camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 could make the perfect gift. Canon is currently offering the camera in a two-lens bundle for just $449 through December 29.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Social Media

Instagram’s 2018 year in review shines a light on where our hearts are

What did Instagram users share the most in 2018? A lot of heart emojis, heart face filters, and heart GIFs. The platform recently shared the year's top trends, including hashtags like #fortnite and #metoo along with a few surprises.

Want a fun, affordable instant camera? The Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S is just $49

Instant cameras have had a surprising resurgence of late, and no brand is better recognized in the instant photo space today than Fujifilm Instax. Walmart is currently offering the Instax Mini 7S for just $49.

Not just for Lightroom anymore, Loupedeck+ now works with Photoshop

Loupedeck+ can now help photographers edit in Photoshop too, thanks to physical controls for swapping tools, running actions, and more. The photo-editing console expanded to include Photoshop in the list of compatible editing programs.