Digital Geography

29. September 2015

Show your Photos in QGIS and ArcGIS: a small example

Hi guys. Once again I found an interesting question in our Geoscientists group on facebook. One user wanted to show her photos in QGIS as she is it used from Google Maps: See a point, click on it and see the great image you’ve taken on your journey. Unfortunately the most obvious plugins failed to do it in QGIS. So check out our “at least” two usage scenarios for QGIS and ArcGIS where we will handle geotagged photos…

Geo-Tagged Photos

So first let’s start with so-coalled geo-tagged photos where the location of your photo is stored in the photo itself. In the following examples I am using photos from my Iphone which where geo-tagged as I’ve taken them near Stuttgart at the INTERGEO 2015:

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So we will start with the easy task: creating this map with clickable photos using geo-tagged ones. [Spoiler-alert: non-geotagged will be presented in a follow up!)


ArcGIS has a great script for dealing with this task. It is called GeoTagged Photos To Points and is found in the Data Management Tools in the -you name it- Photo folder. It works quite easy: select the folder of your photos, better leave the output as default as the photos are stored in the default DB as attachments and after a short time of geoprocessing you have a valid point shapefile with the attributes of the photos like path and time:


images as mouse over in QGIS

The same procedure is a bit more complicated in QGIS (tried in version 2.10.1) as there seems to be no standard support for adding your geotagged photos to your QGIS project. So let’s check the possibilities. My search in the plugin-tool in QGIS revealed the following suitable plugins:
  • Geotag and import photos (needs exiftools installed 🙁 )
  • photo2kmz
  • Photo2Shape (needs exiftools installed 🙁 )
  • ???
One might say: “Com’on install exiftools and you’ll be fine”. But let’s be honest: This might be the right choose for a off-the-top user but most of the GIS-users are happy with an easy to use, not install any dependency solution. So I’ll follow the path with photo2kmz which is easy to use and creates a kmz on one hand and an easy txt file with coordinates and pathes to the images.  In the following video I demonstrate not only the import of these images as point shapefile but also two ways of showing images in QGIS interactively. One is using the “Action” commando and the other will show images when you just hover the mouse over one feature using the Map Tips tool in QGIS: