Instagram photo map featureThese days, I take so many photos with the Instagram app, I was happy about the recent update and intrigued by the Instagram Photo Map feature.

If you haven’t upgraded yet, go for it. You’ll find cool changes like a cleaner, prettier interface, ease of reporting spam comments (yay!), and a much snappier response. But all the buzz has been about Photo Map, which is a new way to aggregate and display your geotagged photos.

If you’re not sure whether you want to use this new feature or are worried about safety issues, here’s everything you need to know:

The folks at Instagram describe Photo Map as a new, interesting way to browse your photos and the photos of your friends, displaying all your geotagged photos on a world map. And that’s pretty much how I saw it when I activated it on my account. When you navigate Photo Map for the first time (which you can find on your profile page), fortunately you will be prompted to review your photos to see which you want to include.

Your options will only be those in Instagram that were taken with geotagging on or any photos you took with your location settings enabled, something that’s asked of you when you download the app.

Instagram photo map feature
Next, just click the ones you don’t want shown on your map to remove them. I personally keep my location settings off and only geotag photos when I’m far away from home, and usually not when I’m with my kids. But realized I had a few photos that I didn’t want on the map and just removed them with a click.

The good news is that removing a photo from your Photo Map doesn’t take them out of your feed. Plus you can remove a photo any time. The bad news is that if you ever want to add it back to the map, you need to upload it all over again, so pick wisely. 

Now, when people click on “Photo Map” from your profile, they’ll see various photos aggregated on a map of the world–and it gets pretty detailed. Here’s an example from my co-publisher Liz’s feed.

instagram photo map @mom101
Galavanting around South America

instagram photo map @mom101
A closer look at Montevideo

instagram photo map @mom101
Click on a particular photo you like

instagram photo map @mom101
It pinpoints the location right down to the address

As you can tell, there are some valid concerns that parents will have with this. The Photo Map, like FourSquare check-ins, offers a very clear trail of your activity, which you might not want if you’re tagging parks and schools and your own home. You can certainly choose not to activate the Map feature at all; or you can also make sure that your location settings are off and that you don’t geotag your photos.

On the other hand, if your kids are in front of Cinderella’s Castle, a Disney World tag isn’t exactly a shocker. If you really have safety concerns, as we recommended with FourSquare, you can always upload the photo after you’ve left a location and not while you’re there.

However for those of you who like to document our travels, and to see where people have been and what they’ve been doing–which is sort of why so many of us love Instagram–the Photo Map is just a cool way to visualize it. Like everything, that just means it needs to be used smartly. -Kristen

For more information on the new Instagram Photo Map feature, head over to the Instagram blog.