How to Tell a Travel Story Visually with Photos

How to Tell a Travel Story Visually with Photos

Storytelling, whether done orally such as in the passing of traditional folklore from one generation to another, through pictures scratched on cave walls, or the printed word, has gone on for thousands of years.

Storytelling
(Zhao! Flickr Photo)

Things started to get complicated once everyone could afford a box camera, and yet more complicated when 8mm movie and 35mm still photo cameras came on the scene, along with slide and movie projectors.

But with the arrival of smartphones, tablets, and computers, photo and video editing apps and Websites that allow users to create “magazine-slick” visual essays, now you can meld oral, visual, and written elements into a visual story.

So what’s the best and easiest way to use photos to tell the story of your trip visually these days?

Here are three options from which you can choose.

Google+ “Stories”

What if someone else could sort through your trip photos, pick out the best, and put them together in a classy “scrapbook” that people could thumb through, all with no effort on your part other than turning on a feature on a Website or mobile app?

Google attempted to do just that with “Stories” for those with Google+ Profiles.

Here’s one of the “Stories” that Google+ created for me from my photos, and which I then edited.

But as I pointed out in the extensive review of it that I published a week ago, “Stories” appears to be suffering from a multitude of technical issues beyond your control.

Telling a Storehouse “Story”

On the other hand, using the free Storehouse app for iPad, you can create a “Story” with text, still photos, and video clips up to 30 seconds long, that you place into up to 25 boxes that you can re-size and drag and drop to re-order.

Update, September 17, 2014: The Storehouse app now works on the iPhone as well as the iPad.

You can share a “Story” via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail.

And a “Story” preview can be embedded in a Website or blog post.

The presentation is beautiful, and the app is easy to use.

People don’t need an iPad or the app to view your “Story,” unless they wish to browse all of the ones you or other Storehouse users have created.

Here’s a “Story” I made with the Storehouse app.

 

While the visual elements of a “Story” could include only still photos, or just video clips, a mix of the two, using mostly stills along with a few videos, will probably be more entertaining.

Storytelling with “Exposure”

Exposure.co is a Web-based service that lets users create visual stories with still photos only, somewhat in the way that the Storehouse app does. (June 26, 2014 Update: Exposure.co has just announced that users can now embed a video posted on YouTube or Vimeo into an Exposure “Post.” Click here for an example of a “Post” that includes a video clip plus still photos.)

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But instead of boxes into which you can drop text or photos, Exposure.co gives you a template for combining your words with your images in a “Post,” its counterpart to a Storehouse “Story.”

Your “Post” can be comprised of multiple sections, each with  group up to 9 photos in a “gallery,” or use page-wide photos.

You can give each section a title and insert text (apparently of any length).

And there doesn’t seem to be any limit to the number of photos or sections that are included a single “Post.”

Here are  screenshots from my first Exposure.co “Post.”

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That was the “cover.” Here’s the first set of photos (reduced in size to fit on this page).

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A second set of images (also reduced to fit this page) ties up the visual story.

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And the “Post” ends like this. (Click here to view all of it full-sized on the Exposure.co Website.)

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Exposure.co “Posts” can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

You can get a hyperlink to a “Post” and send that via e-mail or paste it any document or application that accepts hyperlinks. But as far as I can tell, there is no way to embed an Exposure.co “Post” into a Website or blog.

Update, September 17, 2014: An entire Exposure.co “Post” can now be embedded in a Website or blog.

I learned about Exposure.co from award-winning photographer, Gary Ardnt, one of the co-hosts of  “This Week in Travel,” a Google Hangout on Air video (also available as an audio-only podcast).

In an exchange of e-mail, Gary and I discussed the best way to use Exposure.co for visual storytelling. He thinks that page-width photos, rather than a group of 9 images (such as I used for my “Sierra Spring” project) work best.

And a combination of photo galleries and page-wide shots can also work well. Scott Kelby’s Exposure.co “Post” entitled “From Prague to Budapest: 10 days along the Danube River is a spectacular example of a “Post” that employs both types of photo layout along with extensive text entries.

Decisions, Decisions

With Google+ “Stories” being DNF (Did Not Finish) in this visual storytelling race to excellence, I’d say that Storehouse and Exposure.co end in a dead heat.

Each has its advantages over the other.

I found the Storehouse app a bit easier to use than Exposure.co, and its ability to include video clips as well as still photos is a big plus. (June 26, 2014 Update: Exposure.co “Posts” can now include video as will as still photos.)

Both Storehouse and Exposure.co making sharing your visual story quite easy.

Sharing via e-mail seems simpler with Storehouse than Exposure.co.

Storehouse allows embedding in a Website or blog, while Exposure.co does not. Update, September 17, 2014: An entire Exposure.co “Post” can now be embedded in a Website or blog.

Exposure.co lets you share your “Post” directly from its Website to Pinterest and Google+, but Storehouse does not.

With either you can create visually compelling content.

But you’ve need an iPad and the Storehouse app to make a “Story,” while Exposure.com lets you build your visual essay using a Web browser on a computer or mobile device. (Note: I haven’t tried to do a Exposure.co “Post” on my iPad or iPhone yet.)

Storehouse limits you to making your “Story” with a maximum combination of 25 boxes of text, photos or video clips.

Exposure.co doesn’t appear to limit the amount of content in any single “Post.”

Storehouse is (at least for now) completely free. You don’t pay for the Storehouse app nor for storing and sharing your “Stories” from its servers.

Exposure.co gives you a paltry three free “Posts.” After that, you’re compelled to pay $5 or $9 a month, or $49 or $99 a year, in order to create more “Posts.” (Hint: To keep under that three-post limit, maybe you can delete an existing “Post,” and replace it with a different one.)

Whether your settle on Storehouse or Exposure.co, or decide to use both, you’ll find that your visual stories will be much more appealing than the old-style slideshows that we used to do, “Back in The Day,” before digital cameras ended up in our hands.

While video storytelling can be more complex than creating “stories” with still photos only, come back next Friday and I’ll show you how to “make movies” using both types of visual imagery.

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4 Replies to “How to Tell a Travel Story Visually with Photos”

  1. Very useful post! I’ve been creating stories with Storehouse but they don’t get much traction and I don’t like that I can’t embed them on my website. I will be looking into Exposure!

    Nice Storehouse post on Banff btw. I used to live there and I still miss seeing the beauty of Cascade and Mount Rundle everyday.

    1. Kyle, you can embed a “preview” of a Storehouse story on your Website. When it is clicked on, it will open the story on the Storehouse server.

      To do the embed, open the Storehouse app on your iPad, find the story you wish to embed, and e-mail a link to yourself.

      Then open the e-mail, click on the link, and when the story opens in your Web browser, click on the Storehouse icon in the upper right-hand corner and choose “Embed Story” to get the code to paste into your Website.

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