Online Photo Sharing
Show your family and friends (or the world) what a great photographer you are
No, this is not entirely for show-offs and extroverts. Many people who enjoy their privacy (myself included) can still use online tools to share photos with freinds and relatives who don't live next door.
Sharing your photos online has become remarkably easy. A new web site pops up almost every day touting its ability to help you share photos with friends and family.
What To Look For
If you've have not yet plunged into the world of online galleries, and are having a hard time deciding which service to use, here are a couple things you can think about to help compare the services.
Some online services are free and some charge an annual fee. Some offer both types of accounts, but the free ones have limitations and the paid ones do not.
Whether the service is paid or not, many online galleries impose a limit on the number of photographs you can upload each month. This limit is typically VERY high. If you upload in normal quantities (less than 1000 photos per month), then you should never reach it.
The big difference between online galleries here is that some impose a limit and others do not. Unlimited galleries are truly unlimited, and allow you to upload any and every photograph you have ever taken.
SPECIAL POINT: when you choose a service that gives you unlimited storage space, this can act as fantastic backup for all of your digital photos. If you store your photos on your hard drive, there is a small chance that the hard drive will fail and you will lose all of those photos. If they have all been uploaded to an Internet gallery, not only are they protected in the case of hard drive failure, they are also protected from acts of nature that take out your home computer completely.
The whole point of uploading every photo you take to the Internet is so that you can easily share them with family and friends. Some of the services make this easier than others, and will instantly notify your group of "contacts" when you have uploaded new photos.
Some galleries will let your contacts comment on your photos. This feature lets family and friends give you their two cents about your photographs, and is very helpful when you have photos of unknown people and locations. If someone else knows what the photo is about, they can add a comment and let you know.
While all of the galleries create small versions of the photos you upload (for people with modem connections to the Internet), some of them prevent you from seeing photographs at their original size. Why does this matter?
If you have a friend who wants to print one of your photographs at home, they can download the full-size photo to get a high-quality print. If they can only download a reduced-size photo, their print at home won't look very good.
Categories and Albums
All of the online galleries let you put your photographs into albums. Some go the extra mile and let you create categories and subcategories to organize your photos so you can find them again. Rather than just an album called Xmas Photos, you can have Xmas > 2004 > Tree Trimming.
A small number of the services offer online tools to edit your photos — rotate, adjust exposure and crop. I can't figure out why. If you have any preview software on your computer (most cameras come with some) this software will let you edit your photos on your hard drive. It's faster and it's easier to alter your photos before you upload them.
Some online galleries are set up so you can share your photos with the whole wide world (read as: everyone on the Internet) and some let you choose to only share photos with family and friends. Some galleries are invitation-only, so only the people you send an e-mail to will be inclined to browse through your photos.
Photo Sharing Services
Click on the link below to see a complete photo sharing service comparison chart. The chart illustrates all of the features that are available for each sharing service.