Note from the Maptia Team | What to look for in 2017

Earlier this week we sent an email to our readers outlining our plans for Maptia this year. If you’d like to be part of the journey, join the newsletter.

Dear Readers,

We hope that you are finding ways to stay inspired and optimistic this year. Last week the Maptia team crossed the Atlantic and came together to reflect on our journey so far and to discuss our upcoming plans for 2017. We would love to share some of our thoughts and excitement with you.

These days we feel more galvanised than ever to share stories that inspire us to care about people and places very different from our own. In an online world of fleeting feeds, engagement ephemera, and ad-fuelled content, we choose to move firmly in the opposite direction. Over the past three years, we have spent hundreds of rewarding hours helping a diverse group of photographers self-publish some of their most inspiring and impactful long-form stories. So far these stories have been read over 850,000 times. Although just a beginning, this is pretty exciting — as with each of those reads, someone, somewhere, discovers a new perspective, a new place, a new culture, or a new issue that they care about. Even more important than this number are the supportive messages that you send us every week. We’re all in this together and we couldn’t ask for a more amazing community, so thank you.

2016 was a hectic but rewarding year. Here is a brief recap:

  • We reached a milestone of more than 250 world-renowned and emerging photographers contributing to Maptia.
  • We launched new storytelling channels with nonprofits, including The Thin Blue Line with Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen of SeaLegacy.
  • We featured some exceptional Editors’ Picks — from Frédéric Lagrange’s fascinating account of his expedition deep into the forests of West Papua documenting the lives of a people who only 40 years ago came into contact with the outside world, to the 2016 Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Luke Massey, who shared his story of chasing urban falcons up Chicago’s high-rises, to the sublime and abstract aerial photography Richard Woldendorp has been capturing in Australia since 1955, to photojournalist Reza’s powerful and moving tribute to his friend and Afghan resistance leader Massoud.
  • After four incredible years working together, we said a sad but very fond farewell to our co-founder, Jonny, as he embarked on his next adventure.
  • We welcomed Tyler Tringas to the Maptia team after meeting in Bali and discovering our shared belief in the power of independent, visual storytelling and our shared excitement for building a sustainable organisation that will support this important work.

We can’t wait to share what we’re working on in 2017. Here is what you can expect in the next few months:

  • A new site design focused on emulating the beauty and permanence of artful print publications and exhibitions. (See below for a subscribers-only sneak peek.)
  • A members program to support independent, ad-free storytelling and to go behind-the-scenes with top photographers.
  • Dedicated country pages with beautiful maps.
  • Site-wide search for finding stories, places, and people.
  • Themed story series called Journeys, delivering a daily dose of inspiration to your inbox. (Keep an eye on your inbox for these very soon.)

Today, the entire Maptia team still stands at just three people and there are so many more projects and ideas we would like to bring to life. This year we are more committed than ever to supporting the photographers who are out there documenting the world and to finding new ways to fund their work as a community. We will continue to give our time to stories that matter, helping contributors select images, edit stories, and raise awareness around issues that we as a community care about. On top of that we will be launching ways for readers to directly support photographers’ work, and also our work at Maptia — helping ensure we can continue to sustain Maptia as a permanent and growing archive of stories for generations of readers to come. Very soon we will be launching the first version of Maptia Members and we’re full of ideas for all the great things we’re going to provide to members only, but more on that later.

Finally, in the next few days, you’ll find another email from us with a link to a short reader survey. We’ve put these questions together carefully and if you have a few minutes your answers will help us tremendously in making Maptia as amazing for you as we can. In the meantime, please do reply to this email if you have any thoughts or questions right away — we would love to hear from you.

Wishing you all a wonderful year and a huge thank you for joining us on this journey!

Dorothy, Dean, and Tyler