Street-level Storytelling: Introducing the Mapillary Photostories Tool

Tell your stories in more than words and images! The Mapillary Photostories tool lets you take viewers to the places that matter to you and tell the tales around them.

Tell your stories in more than words and images! We introduce the Mapillary Photostories tool to let you take viewers to the places that matter to you and tell the tales around them.

Mapillary Photostories

An advantage of Mapillary is that it allows people across the world to not only take photos of their neighborhoods—as well as ambitious expeditions into the unknown—but also share these as a virtual tour for others to explore. The experience of seeing Zermatt, Switzerland, in a photograph is different from exploring it on Mapillary, because on Mapillary the viewer begins to understand the perspective of someone who is there on the ground.

Below on the left you can see a photo of Zermatt and truly, it’s a remarkable view of cozy Swiss chalets and the magnificent Matterhorn in the backdrop. On the right, you can actually dive into the scene and start exploring, getting a sense of what the pedestrian walkways are like, what sort of material you see on the buildings, and where you have to stand to get the best view of the mountain.

Zermatt, Switzerland

There is always a time and place for still photographs and a time and a place for a Mapillary sequence. When it comes to storytelling, you might sometimes want to truly immerse your audience in the environment. A picture may be worth one thousand words, as the adage goes, but it’s also helpful to have some written context to your visual story.

On top of that, a popular theme in many apps, in the business world, in newspapers, and life in general is the chief question of geography—”where?” Even better, open your copy of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and you’ll see several pages of maps, giving the reader an idea of the world that the story inhabits. Having a map alongside imagery and words brings a third dimension to the concept of storytelling.

The Mapillary Photostories tool

Mapillary Photostories is a tool that lets you consolidate all these elements into a single experience. Combining navigable Mapillary imagery, written descriptions of photos, and a location map, you can build your own story using photos contributed by yourself as well as from the rest of the community. The final product will look like below (click to go to the interactive version).

Mapillary Photostory

Using Mapillary Photostories involves two stages:

  1. Building the story
  2. Sharing the story

In short, you will be creating slides, each of which displays a Mapillary sequence (images and the map) accompanied by the narrative text you add. The story will be stored as a .js file and hosted on e.g. Dropbox so that Mapillary Photostories can access it.

After a few simple tweaks, you will end up with a link to your photostory that is easy to share, whether through social media, emails, or other forms of communication. We will also be working to make the photostory more responsive for embedding on any website or blog.

Using the tool

There are instructions in the Photostories tool itself but to get even more details and follow a practical example, please head over to our help center for a complete Photostories tutorial.

We hope you will give it a try with your own photostory. Feel free to contact us with any questions on Twitter, Facebook, our forum, or by dropping us a note via email. We’re happy to make sure the Photostories experience is working for you, as well as to receive any feedback on how to make it easier for you to use and share.

Furthermore, make sure to tag us on social media as you build your own stories, so we can help show other users how you’re using Mapillary.

Have fun storytelling!


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