Travel Photo Thursday: Visual Storytelling

Travel Photo Thursday: Visual Storytelling

Ever since Kodak introduced the “Brownie” camera back in 1900, rank amateurs have been able to create photographic souvenirs of their travels.

My family had one of these popular film cameras, and I still have an album filled with photos taken with it or similar, easy-to-use models.

But while taking photos was simple, sharing them was less “user-friendly,” as we would say in today’s digital age.

You could pass around a packet of prints that the drugstore made from your film, and talk about your trip.

Or you could set up a slide projector and screen, show tray after tray of your photos to a captive audience sitting around the dining room table after a meal ended, while “narrating” the events of your journey and facts about the places you had visited.

With the arrival of the Internet, photos could be attached to an e-mail or posted to online “albums” on Websites like Flickr. And smartphone cameras, apps like Instagram, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, made it possible to share your trip photos with everyone in the entire known universe, even astronauts circling Earth.

However, telling a story visually, has remained somewhat elusive.

Using mobile apps or computer software, such as Apple’s iMovie, you can pull still photos (and video) into a “feature film,” adding music soundtracks and voice-over narration.

But for some of us, that takes more time and effort than we want to expend, and perhaps more technical know-how that we possess.

If you own an iPad, there’s now an easy way to combine the poetry of your words, striking photographic images, and entertaining video clips, into a digital “Story” using a free app called Storehouse. Tech Crunch calls it “long-form visual communication.”

Here’s how it works.

The Basics

The free Storehouse app for iPad (running iOS7 or later) lets you combine up to 50 photos and videos (each up to 30 seconds long) into a “Story.”

Text is added by tying into a “text box,” and each of those boxes is like a photo in the sense that it subtracts from the 50-max images that can be used.

So if I have 10 “boxes” of text scattered throughout my “Story,” I can use a combination of no more than 40 photos and videos.

This promotional video demonstrates Storehouse in action:

 

Who Are You?

You’ll need to create a Storehouse account and create a “Profile” providing the readers of your “Stories” with a short 140-character “Bio,” which can include your Website, or Twitter “handle.”

Here’s my Storehouse “Profile”:

Storehouse Profile

You can add an “Avatar”photo and a background “Cover” image to your Profile.

Storehouse Cover

Creating and Editing a “Story”

Aside from the beautiful way your stories are displayed, almost like those in a slick magazine, what Storehouse does is make the process of visual storytelling incredibly easy.

The facility in using the Storehouse iPad app is due in part to the fact that it isn’t crammed with too many “bells and whistles.” While there’s a limit to what you can do with the app, what you can do is a snap.

To create a new “Story,” hold your iPad in horizontal (landscape) position and click on the circular plus (“+” ) button at the top right-hand side of your iPad’s screen.

Then select your photos and videos from the iPad’s Camera Roll, or your Dropbox, Flickr, or Instagram accounts, and click on “Import” at top right-hand side of your iPad’s screen.

Storehouse import

If your photos and videos are on a SD card, you can move them to your iPad’s Camera Roll using an iPad Lighting to SD Card Camera Reader (there’s a separate model for older iPads that use the 30-pin connector).

The Photo Transfer app ($2.99 for Apple devices, $1.99 for Android, free for computers) lets you move photos and videos from an iPhone, Mac or PC computer, to an iPad.

The Storehouse app will create a draft “Story,” select a “Cover” image, add the “Bio” from your “Profile” below it,  and arrange the rest of your photos and videos into three columns below that.

Storehouse Draft

The “Cover” can be either a still photo or a video, either selected from the group you’ve already imported or from the sources that app can tap into. Changing or cropping  a “Cover” it is simple.

Then type a “Title” and, if you wish, a “Subtitle,” that will transparently overlay the “Cover.”

You can crop photos, re-size photos and videos by pinching and squeezing with your fingers, delete them, and add more of them (up to that 50-max limit).

Just tap on “Text” at the top of the app’s screen to add a text box, choose a “Style” that is either “Normal,” a “Header,” or a “Quote,” then type in the desired text which can be “Bold, “Italic,” or “Strikethrough.” Tap on the box again to edit the text, or change the “Style.”

You can drag and drop photos, videos, and text boxes to re-order them.

Storehouse Text boxes

You can save your “Story” as a draft, then come back and work on it later.

Once your hit the “Publish” button, your “Story” will be sent to the Storehouse server and you can share a link (which, when clicked on, will open the “Story” in a Web browser) to it via e-mail or on Twitter or Facebook.

Even after your “Story” has been published, you can go back and edit it by adding, deleting or re-arranging photos, videos and text. Saving the changes automatically updates the version on the Storehouse server and anyone who clicks on a link to the “Story” that you previously shared with see the new version.

Here’s one of my completed “Stories.

Technical Tips

The visual quality of your “Story,” particularly when viewed on a computer whose screen is larger than that of an iPad, will be depend on the resolution of the photos and videos that you use.

So use the highest resolution photos that you have and HD video whenever possible.

If you plan on adding lengthy text entries to your “Story,” consider using an iPad app like “Pages” to draft and spellcheck your work. Then copy and paste it into a text box in your “Story.”

And typing text for a “Story” may be much easier if you use a physical Bluetooth keyboard rather than the iPad’s built-in virtual keyboard.

Browsing the Storehouse “Collection”

If you have the Storehouse app installed on your iPad, you can browse “Stories” created by other Storehouse users, and you can share them via e-mail, or on Twitter or Facebook, just as you can with your own work.

Storehouse app users can also search for other users by name, and as with Facebook and Twitter, you can “follow” them. (Storehouse co-founder Mark Kawano “followed me,” so I returned the favor and “followed” him back.)

Storehouse Swiping

If you view a “Story” using the iPad app, you can swipe back and forth to view other “Stories” created by that same user. (Unfortunately, those reading a “Story” using a Web browser don’t as yet have access to other “Stories” created by the same user.)

The Price is Right

The Storehouse app for iPad allows the creation of such eye-catching projects that I’m amazed it’s free rather than going for anywhere from $4.99 to $19.99.

Today, most free iOS apps are either mobile platforms for a huge Web-based site (such as those for hotels or airlines), based on a subscription model (i.e., for magazines like The New Yorker), or make money for the developers through annoying ads (which you maybe able to remove by paying for a premium version of the app), “in-app purchase” of app add-ons,  or paid upgrades from a bare-bones “Free” version to a full-featured “Pro” version of the app.

But Storehouse is simply free, period. And perhaps, in the long-run, that could be a problem for both Storehouse and its users.

As Rene Ritchie, Editor-in-Chief of the Website iMore said in his review of the Storehouse app:

One area that has raised some concern is Storehouse’s business model. Outwardly, it currently appears not to have one. Accounts are free, reading, creating, and sharing is free. And there’s nary an ad to be seen, anywhere. Given how other startups have either closed down or sold to giant corporations who killed them, that concern isn’t unjustified. If you share it, you can still enjoy the work of those who contribute regardless, and you can always protect any creative investment you make yourself by keeping copies of your photos, videos, and text elsewhere.

“Storehouse’s success will depend on getting a lot of people using it as quickly as possible, so taking a hit up front could pay off in the long wrong. Pro accounts, business accounts, distribution channels, and all sorts of interesting possibilities could follow. I have no idea what they’ll do or when they’ll do it, but I’m interested enough to stay tuned and find out.”

Let’s hope that whatever path it follows, the Storehouse app remains a viable business endeavor for its developers.

(Click on an image to enlarge to full-size. Visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more of this week’s Travel Photo Thursday shots.)

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10 Replies to “Travel Photo Thursday: Visual Storytelling”

    1. Jan, thanks for the kind words.

      Unfortunately, although you could view a Storehouse “Story” on an iPhone (if you had the link to it), you can only download the Storehouse app to an iPad for use in creating these “Stories.”

  1. What fun! Thanks for introducing this too us! I’ve been reluctant to upgrade my ipad to IOS7 but I think you have just given me a reason to do so! As I was viewing your story, I felt as though I was reading one of your blog posts…I wonder if you could then use it for this!

    1. Jenny, thanks for the kind words.

      At first, I though I might be able to embed Storehouse “Stories” into a blog post or page, but so far I haven’t been able to get that to work.

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