Sharing Photos Online
2. Pick the best solution
Once you have clear definitions of how your photos will be
how much money you can spend and how much time you are going to put in,
you are ready to decide how to post your pictures. With so many options
around, there should be a perfect fit somewhere. It’s just a matter of
You will probably end up using one of six types of solutions:
1. Photo printing sites- sites primarily
designed for uploading digital images for printing that also offer
Best for private
Photo Album, Doubleprints and
some Artshows, when privately sharing recent photos is the main focus
and users are likely to want prints. Especially convenient if you are
getting film processed.
2. Photo sharing sites- sites designed
for sharing your online pictures with friends and family.
Best for Photo
Album, Slideshows, Doubleprints, Art
Show, when uploading your digital shots with some commentary when
want to print. Some sites are more private, others more public. Most
have privacy control options.
3. Photo sharing communities- sites
designed for discussing photos.
public Photo Album, Slideshow, Art
Show and Gallery, when you are looking for interactions with strangers
about your images. Most have the ability to keep some or all images
private, but the big advantage is the community access.
4. Blogs- sites for frequently publishing
text and images.
Best for Photo Album,
Illustration and some Art Show,
to write about the story in the pictures and you want to gather
comments mainly from people you know. A blog is technically public but
won’t generally be widely viewed unless you actively promote it to get
5. Social networking sites- sites for
sharing your life with others.
public Photo Album, Illustration,
for those already using or planning to use such a site. These sites use
photos as part of the community experience, so no point posting here if
you aren’t planning to be socially active.
6. Personal websites- sites that
can be customized for any purpose.
public Slideshow, Illustration, Hobbyist and
some Gallery when pictures are just one part of the project and
you will also publish lots of text, promote a business, sell things, or
you have very specific design ideas. Requires the most effort, so only
best if you have a specific need.
In addion to these basic types there are thousands of other
possibilities. Hobbyists in particular will find niche sites organized
by people within the hobby that fit very particular needs. Art or pro
photographers can find very creative ways to spread their images
using everything from contests to stock photo banks. For these special
needs, start with the photos you look at and track down where and how
they are posted on the web.
And finally, the wonder of the web is that you can easily have more
than one photo site. Blogs, social network sites and websites that
have their own photo support can also integrate other photo sites that
provide more photo-specific features. So, you might have a
page illustrated with photos in your Flickr album and also with links
your Walgreens pictures. Or you might use a photo printing site for
family pictures, but post hobby photos to a different specialty site.
If you haven’t really decided the type of site that might suit you
consider a few examples from our friends and family.
Busy Mom (Photo printing site for Photo Album and Doubleprints)
One friend who is a busy mother of two running a home business wants to
share pictures of the kids with friends and family out of state. She
uses a film camera and goes to a local drugstore to get the pictures
developed and for no extra cost she can have them upload the pictures
to a website for her. They email her a link that she can send to
others. She rarely has time to go online and add captions. She also
occasionally goes to a department store
for formal portrait sessions and they also offer web services.
all offer the option for us to order prints to pick up at our local
store or have mailed to us.
Limitations: They usually only store photos for a limited time,
sometimes for a set period from your last purchase. One site she used
required us to create an account, which means the headache of tracking
a login and password just to view her pictures.
You will find services like this offered by Costco,
as well as JC Penny and Sears
Blogger (Blog for Photo Album, Hobbyist, Art Show)
This friend created a blog to publish her writing
Mac and Mac software and a Mac users hosting site
called .Mac (note: Apple is currently
changing .Mac to MobileMe – some terms may change). One
feature of the software is photo pages, which she has used to post a
variety of snap shots, but also to narrate images of her hobby,
triathalons. Recently she upgraded to a high-end camera and so now she
is also posting artistic shots. The .Mac site charges about $100/year
for hosting her blog and pictures.
Limitations: With blogs and websites, once you post your
photos they are
there until you remove them, so they tend to accumulate over time and
can become more difficult for users to navigate. Also, when she had
challenges with the software that she was too busy to fix, she couldn’t
post for several months.
WordPress.com and Blogger
are designed for quickstart blog creation. Blogger
is a Google product that uses Picasa
Web for photo storage, which makes uploading very easy if you
use Google’s free Picasa picture organization
software on your computer.
Other sites, like Fotolog,
are specifically designed as photoblogs, with an emphasis on daily
Newlyweds 1 (Social networking site for Photo Album and Doubleprints)
After this young couple got married, they wanted to share all the
digital snaps taken by friends and family as well as their official
wedding photos in one place. They already used Facebook,
and decided to
post them there.
Limitations: Call us crazy, but we don’t trust Facebook,
and since you
have to be a member to view these sites, we have never gotten to see
the wedding shots.
are also designed for sharing within your social network
Newlyweds 2 (Photo sharing site for Photo Album, Doubleprints,
Another pair of friends who just got hitched had a different solution
for sharing everyone’s wedding photos. They used the family group
account on SmugMug,
a photo sharing site. All the family members have access to upload
their pics to the same wedding album, and the bride created an album of
her favorites out of the hundreds uploaded. Elsewhere in the account,
her aunt has a collection of shots of her environmental sculptures and
they other albums, like one for new babies.
Limitations: Sharing access to everything with the group can
to some amount of chaos, with differing organizational styles and stuff
Similar services are offered by dotPhoto,
Camera Nut (Photo sharing community for Photo Album, Artshow, Gallery,
We were introduced to the many uses of Flickr
by a camera collector and Flickr
power-user who regularly posts a hundred or more photos a
week. Many use Flickr
like my Dad did, just to post snapshots and
send links to friends. Our camera nut posts pictures of his daily
activities for friends, but he also actively exploits the Flickr
community to learn about photography, share his various specialty
interests, and occasionally get published on other sites or local
papers. He adds almost every photo to one or more “pools”
the subject matter, location, camera type, or technique where he can
generate specific interest and get feedback from strangers. He doesn’t
spend much time captioning as he posts, though he is very good about
responding to all comments and questions from viewers. For just
$25/year, he has unlimited storage so he can keep as many photos as
long as he likes.
Limitations: The free account is a bit of a teaser, since you are
limited three ways- how much you upload each month, how many pictures
are displayed and the number of albums you can have. Also viewers, even
in the specialty pools, tend to focus on the
positive, so it’s not the best place to get critical feedback for
improving your shots.
PhotoSIG and PBase
are also photographer communities where you might get more constructive
feedback for improving technique.
The Pro (Website for Gallery)
We have been very inspired by one friend who has made a decent side
business selling photos online. He maintains his own website with
professional quality images organized into albums and has a shopping
system for ordering prints. He collects the orders, then places a
drop-ship order using his account at a professional digital printing
service to send out the ordered print.
Limitations: Managing the images and the
order process requires time and skill.
We use Menalto
on BrewZone which can easily be set up for selling images. You can also
set up pro accounts on sites like dotPhoto
and SmugMug where
the orders go directly to the printer and save you some effort. Fotki
is another interesting alternative- a photoblog site that allows you to
sell directly from your photo albums with an upgraded account.