Project Update #2

Choosing Photos

Hello, I am back to update you on my project. This week I am taking a look at visual storytelling and bring my narrative to life with an effective mix of photos.

Photos can create a sense of place, personality, or emotion more clearly and quickly than the written word. That’s why people are drawn to stories that include photography—the images powerfully confirm and expand upon what we discover in the text. Plus, they give us a mental break – our brains have a moment to process the text we just went through, better enabling us to focus on the words we’ll read next.

I think I am going to have to turn to the web to find images I can use in stories. Finding images you have the rights to use can be a challenge. Free sites like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay are great places to start. I just need to make sure I understand what a license does and doesn’t enable you to do. As I learned in Hist680, when it comes to copyright laws, safer is always better, so err on the side of caution if you have doubts.

When you add an image to the media panel of an immersive block—sidecar, slideshow, or map tour—you can open the options panel and decide how that image is displayed. The initially selected setting is Fill, meaning the image will fill the entire media panel, which may result in some cropping at various screen sizes. If you change this to Fit, the entirety of the image will be shown no matter what, with margins appearing in the left over panel space. This option is especially useful for charts or infographics, where you don’t want any information to be cut off. But for photos, the margins can diminish their transportive effect. I’ll be better off setting the focal point on the part of a photo that can’t be missed and allow some minor cropping on the edges.

There are a number of ways you can show related images together in the ArcGIS StoryMaps builder. I can use a slideshow for a laterally navigated set of photos, or feature my most important image in the media panel of a sidecar with the supporting images stacked in the accompanying narrative panel. There’s also the option of adding up to five images for a single location in the map tour block.

And then there is the recently added image gallery block, perhaps one of my all-time favorite additions to the story builder. With an image gallery you can bring together a number of photos in a single collage, choosing from a couple different layouts depending on the look I’m after. The finished gallery looks really polished, in my opinion. It’s a great way to include a cohesive set of related images that build on each other.

There are all kinds of assets that can be powerful narrative drivers. And there is such a thing as too much—too many images in a single section, too much of the same subject matter, too many floated or full-width images, or just too many photos for a single story. I need to be just as intentional with choosing my images, and how they’re displayed, as I am with the words I’m writing. And I need to be willing to dial it back in some instances.

Stay tuned…more later

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