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Sharing Photos Online – Choosing an Online Photo Management Service

August 24, 2007 by debbie T | Digital PhotographyFlickrPicasa 2

Uploading your digital photos online is a great way to share your memories with friends and family. But which online photo album is best? I will walk you through a few of the popular choices for online photo sharing sites; I hope it helps you to choose the one that fits your needs.

Flickr.com (Yahoo)

Personally, I love Flickr. Besides easy to use photo management, there is a great community of passionate photographers. As a member, you can post & receive comments, save other photos to your “favorites”, join community groups, and save other members as your “contacts”.

Don’t mistakenly think that to use Flickr, you must be social. Not so. Some or all of your photos can remain private, or only available to specific “friends and family” contacts. You choose who can view, download, print, blog, comment on, annotate, search, and view Exif info for your photos. You set the license for photo use, whether full restriction or a creative commons.

Flickr’s Upload Tools

Flickr offers a free membership consisting of a 100 MB photo upload limit per calendar month, along with the ability to organize your photos into 3 “sets” (another word for albums)

If you need more, the Flickr pro membership is only $25 per year. It offers unlimited upload, bandwidth, sets, and ad free browsing. (Note: The advertising for the Flickr free membership, is not as blatant as other photo management web sites.)

There are several options to upload a photo file to Flickr:

The Flickr Uploader is easy to use. Click to browse to your photos on your hard drive, then choose one file, or multiple photo files by holding the Ctrl key and clicking on each file you would like to upload. After all photos are uploaded to Flickr, add tags, title, and description.

There is also the Flickr Basic Uploader, which is old fashioned, and time consuming if you have a lot of photos with different tags and settings.

There are several other upload tools for Windows and Mac users. I use the iPhoto plugin (Mac only) and I love it because it is so easy to add titles, descriptions and tags for each separate photo or for all photos I am uploading.

Flickr’s Photo Management

Besides the ability to tag your photos with keywords, Flickr also offers managing your photos in sets (or albums) – Free accounts get 3 sets, Pro accounts get unlimited sets with unlimited collections of sets. I also love the mapping feature; in the Organize area, drag a photo onto an area map to display the location of the shoot.

Bottom Line: Flickr is a great choice if you want a community setting to share your photos with others, meet new friends, and socialize. It might not be the best choice for the photographer that likes to manage photos in many albums for free.

Picasa Web Albums (Google)

For those that don’t want the community atmosphere that Flickr offers, Picasa Web Albums is my recommendation. Picasa Web free membership offers 1gb of file storage, unlimited albums, privacy settings, tagging (keywords) and photo mapping. For $20 per year, paid members receive 6gb of file storage. There are several other levels of paid membership also. Picasa Web Albums also allows you to upload video files.

Uploading to Picasa Web Albums

Once you’ve logged in, you can begin uploading your photos using Picasa Web’s online uploader. It is an old fashioned uploader, with the ability to browse to one file at a time. For Windows users, Picasa 2 is available. Picasa 2 is Google’s photo editing software. Using Picasa 2, it is very easy to upload your photo files to new or existing albums. For Macintosh users, there is

Please view my Picasa 2 Tutorials, including the one for uploading to Picasa Web Albums using Picasa 2.

Photo Management Using Picasa Web Albums

Picasa Web photo management has good and bad points. I love the unlimited album creation and batch editing for changing photo captions, but it is more difficult to add tagging keywords. You must select each photo and add a tag separately. It is easy to view an album using the slide show option, and printing photos is as easy as clicking a button – choose between Shutterfly and Photoworks for printing.

Navigation is very user-friendly. There is no advertising, so the interface is uncluttered and simple. Picasa Web Albums offers the ability to post and receive comments, but the community setting is not as established as Flickr’s. It is perfect for those that don’t care to share their photos with anyone outside their circle of family and friends.

Bottom line, Picasa Web Albums is perfect for those that want simple & uncluttered way to share photos with family and friends. The negatives are uploading can be cumbersome unless you are using Picasa 2 software and there is really no community atmosphere.

WebShots (Cnet)

I have was never a fan of the Webshots interface. It is cluttered with links, buttons, advertising, and the photo navigation is not immediately user-friendly. But on the good side, it is loaded with features that make photo management easy to use for its members.

Webshots allows up to 1000 photos to be stored for free. The Premium membership for $29.88 year, and allows 5000 photos to be stored. The premium membership also removes the annoying advertising.

Uploading to WebShots

The Webshots online uploader is very easy to use. Browse to one or multiple photo images (using the Ctrl key to select more than one file), select an album or add a new one, apply tags (keywords), then upload. They also offer other uploading tools, including Mac applications. More details are located on the main upload page.

WebShots Photo Management

As I said, I find WebShots’ interface to be cluttered and not very visitor-friendly. I wish that the album page would display larger photos. 100px is too tiny, so it forces the visitor to click each thumbnail to view a larger version. It is easy to browse through photos using the “Next” and “Previous” links, but I would prefer larger thumbnails on the summary pages.

It is easy to make changes to any album by clicking on the “properties” link. Edit album name, description, tags, privacy settings, and topic category. It is easy to delete photos, or move them to another album.

Bottom line, Webshots seems to be very popular. Could be because the features are easy for members to use. I find their interface to be cluttered, even with only two advertising blocks on the page. Perhaps it is because there are also so many options, features, tabs, and links on the page as well.

One last comment: I don’t like WebShots’ privacy settings; there is no way to restrict others from downloading, linking to, blogging, or stealing your photo files, unless you set the album as private. If you are using WebShots to publicly share your photos, be sure to protect the integrity of your original photos by resizing to a smaller file size before uploading. I suggest 1024×768.

PhotoBucket

I am not that familiar with Photobucket except for a few minutes of testing. I wasn’t overly impressed.

The interface is cluttered with advertising. Since the upload area is at the top of the album page, the user must scroll down the page to view any photos, which seems very silly. There are no privacy settings, only options to remove the ability to create html for various copy & paste links. I didn’t see any settings to keep an album private.

Other Photo Sharing & Storage Services

Conclusions

I highly recommend using either Flickr or Picasa Web, you can’t go wrong with either!

There are 5 comments

  1. Debbie – I wholeheartedly agree – I love flickr – it is very easy to use.

    I have found photobucket to be very useful – it’s a nice, added service that I use to (freely) host my ebay images. This way I don’t use any of my space on flickr.

    Comment by Dave on August 24th, 2007
  2. Thanks for your input Dave!

    You are absolutely correct, Photobucket would be a good place for Ebay photos, or photos you need to link to from a forum or web site.

    Comment by debbieT on August 25th, 2007
  3. Flickr is not bad if you only have a few photos to upload or, you don’t mind paying for a pro account to store a lot of images. I’ve tried SmugMug and Zooomr too, but I thought Smugmug was overpriced and Zooomr was unreliable (I know it is a two man team and all, but I need something that works all the time). I eventually settled on Pixamo (http://www.pixamo.com). They have a tagging system that is really effective in networking my photos with my friends’. Instead of just typing random tags like in Flickr, the Pixamo system predicts mine while I type them in, based on the tags that my friends have used. This way, all of our tags are spelled the same and remain consistent. Clicking on one of them will bring all of our like photos together into a collection of their own, really eliminating the need for “photosets” or “albums.” They give me 2 gigs of free storage annually which beats Flickr’s free account by a long shot. And, they have video. They are a smaller service, but I have yet to find another photo site with such comprehensive free account features.

    Comment by Alfred Galvin on August 29th, 2007
  4. Thanks Alfred, I just signed up with Pixamo to check ’em out.

    Flickr is really best for those who want a community, not just sharing with friends. I really like all the groups to join.

    I have never had a problem with flickr’s limit of 100mb per month. I don’t want my original files online anyway, so they are always resized. I don’t even come close to the limit, and I upload almost every day.

    Thank you for explaining the great points about Piximo! I will add their link to the article.

    Comment by debbieT on August 29th, 2007
  5. I currently use Picasa2 to upload my fotos and send them to people because I am a photographer and I can use it to send out pics. But recently for some reason, when I try and put pictures in my tray to send to myself and then send it to people, I keep k=getting a message saying that I could not access the Picasa2 mailbox, try later…..Is there something I can do to correct this? Thanks, Lou

    Comment by Louis M on August 8th, 2008