Photo Guidelines for ArcGIS Online Maps including Story Maps

02-17-2017 07:00 AM
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Esri Frequent Contributor
13 10 5,180

Today, many options exist for using images in ArcGIS Online, including web mapping applications such as story maps.  Choose a method that works best for your situation and needs. I have summarized some key methods in this document, which is a subset of the many methods that are valid.  I have included the use of images in ArcGIS Online, Flickr, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Plus, Google Photos, and Google Drive.


2 Rules of thumb:

  1. ArcGIS Online and apps (including story maps) are continually evolving. The photo sharing tools are likewise continually evolving.  These procedures are thus subject to change.
  2. To be successful with using photos in ArcGIS Online:

(1) Make sure they are your content, or are in Creative Commons or are not copyrighted, or you have permission to use them.

(2) That the photos are shared with the public. 

(3) That the photos are of modest size; i.e. not too large that they will slow down the browser; and not too small that they will be grainy.

(4) That you obtain a URL that can be opened in a separate tab in a web browser. If they can be opened in a separate web browser tab, then they will work in ArcGIS Online.

I have updated this set of guidelines in October 2019.  

MVP Frequent Contributor

Great summary! Unfortunately, many of the options do not allow for "alt-text" image description to be rendered in the ESRI online apps, in order to be section 508-compliant. 

Occasional Contributor

Thanks for your continuing help to summarize these techniques.

Esri Frequent Contributor

I have updated this document today with a section on Dropbox, thanks to Tom Baker for helping me with this section! 

Esri Frequent Contributor

I added Twitter and Instagram to this document today - 8 June 2017 - I hope it is useful.  

--Joseph Kerski

Esri Frequent Contributor

Thomas - good point - I know from my web work at USGS that this is a very pressing issue. Someone needs to write a "summary of how to make <all of this> 508 compliant document" - !

Occasional Contributor

Is this document available to users with public accounts?  

Occasional Contributor

When I try to access the photo guidelines document at 

I get  "This shared file or folder link has been removed or is unavailable to you."

Has the document been moved/removed?  Or is the document not available for public account holders?

Thanks‌  #photo‌ story maps

Occasional Contributor

Thanks for updating the link!  It's working now.

Esri Frequent Contributor

Thanks for letting me know about this! --Joseph 

Occasional Contributor

On p.10, there is a screenshot that shows a tab that suggests photos can be imported from Unsplash:

I have tried both my public, and organizational accounts, in story maps, but so far I cannot locate a tab for Unsplash import option.

Do I need to do something to enable Unsplash import?  

About the Author
I believe that spatial thinking can transform education and society through the application of Geographic Information Systems for instruction, research, administration, and policy. I hold 3 degrees in Geography, have served at NOAA, the US Census Bureau, and USGS as a cartographer and geographer, and teach a variety of F2F (Face to Face) (including T3G) and online courses. I have authored a variety of books and textbooks about the environment, STEM, GIS, and education. These include "Interpreting Our World", "Essentials of the Environment", "Tribal GIS", "The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data", "International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS In Secondary Education", "Spatial Mathematics" and others. I write for 2 blogs, 2 monthly podcasts, and a variety of journals, and have created over 5,000 videos on the Our Earth YouTube channel. Yet, as time passes, the more I realize my own limitations and that this is a lifelong learning endeavor and thus I actively seek mentors and collaborators.