ArcGIS Online

Add geotagged photos to your web map

Geotagged photos contain the stored location of where the photo was taken. The lat/long location is stored in the image file’s Exchangeable Image Format (EXIF) data; the metadata for the image which can contain other details like the make and model of the camera, lens information, and more.

There are many ways to geotag photos; you can capture the location when you take the photo using GPS-enabled cameras, you can use the location capabilities of your device, and you can use tools like those found in Flickr and other online tools to geotag photos after they’ve been captured.

While you can’t drag and drop or otherwise add geotagged photos directly to your web map, here are a few ways to add geotagged photos using a few simple intermediate steps.


Use a .zip file

Geotagged photos can be added to a map by publishing them as a feature layer. To create the feature layer, add the photos to a compressed file (.zip file) and upload the file from your computer. A point feature layer is created based on the location stored in each photo, with the photos themselves being stored as an attachment to the point. Points are not created for non-geotagged photos. The resulting feature layer can be added to any web map, and photo attachments can be viewed from the pop-up.

To publish a feature layer with geotagged photos, follow these steps. You can start at Step 2 by downloading the sample zip file from its item page.

Step 1 – Create a .zip file containing the geotagged photos. In Windows select the photos, right click, then Send to a compressed folder.

Sent to compressed folder

Step 2 – In Content, click Add Item and choose From your computer.

Add item from your computer

Step 3 – Add the .zip file as an item, and publish the feature layer.

(a) – Choose the .zip file.

(b) – From the drop down, choose Photos with Locations.

(c) – Ensure Publish hosted feature layer is checked, and provide a title for the feature layer.

(d) – Assign categories (optional), and add tags.

(e) – When finished, click Add Item.

Add item dialog

Step 4 – Complete the item descriptions.

It’s a best practice to complete the item description. Update the thumbnail, summary, and details as needed. Note that there are two items that have been created; the hosted feature layer, and the image collection (the uploaded .zip file).

Items created when adding an image collection

Step 5 – Add the layer to a web map.

The feature layer created in Step 4 can be added to a web map and configured as desired just like any other layer. You can open the layer in a new map from the item pages:

Open in Map Viewer

Or add the layer to any map via Add:

Add layer to a map

To view the photo, click the location to open the pop-up, then click the photo link under Attachments:

Pop-up showing photo attachment

View the feature layer item.

View the map to explore the photos.

Attachment Viewer is configurable app template, and a good choice for viewing attachments. View the map using Attachment Viewer.


Use Story Map Tour

Story Map Tour, one of the classic story map templates, can be used to create feature layers from geotagged photos. It can be used to import geotagged photos from Flickr, or you can drag and drop geotagged photos into the Map Tour builder.

Import photos from Flickr

If your geotagged photos are stored in Flickr, follow these steps:

Step 1 – Open the Map Tour Builder, and click Flickr.


Flickr option in Map Tour builder

Step 2 – Add the geotagged photos from your Flickr album.

(a) – Enter your Flickr user name.

(b) – Click Look up.

(c) – Select an album containing geotagged photos from the drop down.

(d) – Click Import.

Flickr import

Step 3 – Geotagged photos found in the album selected above in Step 2 will be added to the map. Photo locations can be adjusted if desired, and photos that are not geotagged may be selected and placed on the map. Click Import when finished.

Select and locate photos

Step 4 – Save the story map.

To create the feature layer, save the story map.

Save story map

Note that both a web map and web mapping application (the Story Map Tour) are created, and can be found in My Content. While you can complete building and keep the Story Map Tour, in this case it is not needed and can be deleted.

Step 5 – Open the web map.

Open the web map created using the Map Tour builder. The layer containing the photos in the web map is named “Map Tour layer.” Enable the layer pop-up, and click a feature. Note that if present, the Flickr name and description have been imported, and both a thumbnail and full size photo link have been added.

My Contents

Step 6 – Save layer.

You can configure and save the layer in the web map. But if you want to use the layer in other maps then configure the style and pop-up, then open more options (…) and choose Save Layer.

Save layer

View the feature layer item created using the steps described above.

Import photos using drag and drop

Story Map Tour also enables you to drag and drop geotagged photos in the story map builder. Follow these steps to use Map Tour builder to upload and place local photos.

Step 1 – Open the Map Tour Builder, and click I want to upload my images.


I need to upload my images

Step 2 – Create the feature layer.

Enter the feature layer name, and the location where it will be saved. The feature layer will include photos via links.

Enter feature layer name

Step 3 – Add the geotagged photo.

Browse and select, or drag and drop the geotagged photo onto the dialog.

Add geotagged photo

The photo will be uploaded, and behind the scenes a new feature will be created using the EXIF location information. A link to a thumbnail and full size image will be created.

Add photo

Repeat until you’ve finished adding all geotagged photos. Then follow the steps starting at Step 4 above to create and use the feature layer.

View the map created using this method.


Other methods

Depending on where and how you store your geotagged photos, there may be other alternatives. Two are discussed below.

Use Flickr and KML

If you use Flickr to manage and showcase photos, you can download the geotagged photos and use the .zip file method discussed at the beginning of this article.

Another way is to create a KML file pointing to your Flickr photos. At one time Flickr provided the ability to export geotagged photos to KML, but it no longer does. However, using a 3rd-party tool described in Turn geotagged Flickr Albums into KML you can create a KML that shows the location of each photo on the map (using the photo as the symbol), and points to the Flickr source for displaying larger versions of the photo.

Follow the steps outlined in the post. Once the KML has been generated, follow these steps to add the photos as a feature layer. View the KML item.

Step 1 – In your My Content tab, click Add Item and choose From your computer.

Add item from your computer

Step 2 – Choose the file, add a title and tags, then click Add Item.

Add KML file

Once the item has been created, you can add it to a map to view the Flickr photos.

Open KML in Map Viewer

The photos appear as symbols, and the pop-up includes a thumbnail of the photo, title and description (if present), and links to the owner and original photo in Flickr. View the map.

KML viewed in map

Use a CSV with photo links

Another way to add geotagged photos is to create a CSV file containing the extracted X,Y locations (from the Exif) of the photos along with the locations of the hosted photos. Once you’ve created the CSV, you can drag and drop the CSV onto your map, or publish a feature layer using it as the source.

Once added to your map, the layer pop-up can be configured to display each photo. Note that you’ll need to host your photos at some web-accessible location, or use social or cloud-based photo hosting.

This method, and one geotag extraction tool, is covered in A Tip For Adding Geotagged Photos To ArcGIS Online Webmaps. You can find lots of other alternatives via online search.


More information

This post was originally published on August 14, 2013, and has been updated.

About the author

Corporate technology evangelist and advocate at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping customers succeed with the ArcGIS system. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Email or connect on LinkedIn (


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