“Your Photos Deserve Better.”
This is the declaration of the homepage of Exposure.co and their assumption is that wherever your photos have lived up until this point, it’s not nearly as good. Here’s the thing: I completely agree. If you haven’t heard of Exposure, or Storehouse, or Steller – fear not. These hip names represent some of the latest players in the world of multimedia storytelling.
Some point back to the beautiful and award-winning piece by the New York Times called “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” as the moment when the public’s eyes were opened to the world of a more complex, visually stunning and immersive way to present stories to the public.
No matter its inception, a new way to share your content is emerging and I recently had the chance to take two of the most popular new platforms for a spin: Storehouse and Exposure. (I’ve also dabbled with Steller, a free iPhone app that you can read about here.)
Exposure: MY SAMPLE
Here’s what I love about Exposure. When used correctly, you will not be able to pull yourself away from a story. Take for example, Josh Trujilio’s coverage of the devastating Oso landslide. My wife and I were glued to these images and instantly felt a sense of closeness to the story that we hadn’t felt in reading the coverage elsewhere online.
In terms of usability, I would give Exposure a 9/10. However, in terms of usability for the creator of the content, I give Exposure a 7/10. The first annoyance is that you must drag and drop your images into the platform. I was using my 13in MBP and trying keep both my images and web browser windows open simultaneously made what should’ve been a simple task of uploading images something of a pain.
Once your images are loaded (and I do like the loading images status bar), you have a handful of ways to change the layout and/or size of your images. Additionally, you can drag and drop text boxes into the page as well – and even include hyperlinks via the text boxes. The ability to add links is nice, but the options for editing the size or location of your actual text boxes does leave something to be desired.
- web-based tool
- easy to navigate as a user
- full width images
- exclusive drag and drop for adding images
- lacks video functionality
- limited options for manipulating text boxes
Storehouse: MY SAMPLE
The first detail of Storehouse that caught my attention was about the founder. Mark Kawano is the former user experience evangelist and UI designer at Apple and the man behind Storehouse app. My hunch is that most people don’t leave Apple to work on something mediocre. In the case of Kawano and Storehouse, this proves true.
The second major detail that wowed me was the video integration. Unlike Exposure, Storehouse allows users to upload video content in addition to photos. Given the increasing importance of video for everything from “how to” content to promotional videos, this is a biggie.
At the end of the day, the clearest difference between Storehouse and Exposure is that Storehouse is built for the iPad and is designed to be an experience for mobile. This proves to be both a strength and a weakness. My first thought was “Please, don’t make me take photos on my iPad….”. Thankfully, Mark had a game plan for that.
Storehouse allows you to link your Instagram, Dropbox, and Flickr account enabling seamless access to your content in the cloud. So, with access to my photo accounts, I got started on a project and here are my thoughts:
- linked accounts (extremely easy to add media)
- gesture enabled (swipe, pinch, etc)
- iPad creation only (it is viewable on any browser, though)
So you want to use a Storytelling app? Here’s what I’ve learned and would recommend:
1. You need a story.
This might seem..well, obvious. If you’re just fascinated by the technology of these platforms, and you want to use them in your personal life or organization, but you don’t have a STORY you want to share, then this could simply become a fancier version of a boring Facebook post. Here’s the good news: you have a story to tell. You just have to find it!
2. Captivating Media
To me, the beauty of these platforms is their ability to visually pull you in. Say you want to learn more about Micro Loans. You could simply fall back on a quick search engine exploration, or you could become immersed in this story. Both might equally inform, but one will tell likely leave you with a lasting story that you want to pass on to your friends.
3. Compelling Copy
These platforms aren’t designed to produce your next e-book; however, you’ll get more mileage from your work if you can manage to create copy that’s more than just “what goes underneath the image” or “something to fill space”. Challenge yourself to think of something between 140 characters (Twitter) and a full blog post. To me, that seems to be the sweet spot.