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Thursday, September 10, 2015

How to Share Photos Online

When we were young, we would collect our photos in a scrapbook, but today, we take digital pictures and share them online. For many, the first choice is Facebook, but numerous other websites are available where you can edit photos, set up a system to store and organize them and create online scrapbooks.    

When we were young, we would collect our photos in a scrapbook and sit down with friends and family to show them pictures from our family vacations. Today, we take digital photos, and when we want to share pictures of a family wedding, our trip to Yellowstone or the newest grandchild, we share them online. For many, the first choice is Facebook, but numerous other websites are available, some dedicated only to editing, storing and organizing photos. You can even create online scrapbooks. Some sites allow the ability to order prints.

Most photo storage sites offer trial periods and are free for a limited amount of storage. It’s a good idea to try several to see what is best for your needs. Some focus on the editing aspect, others on easily sharing photos and others on ease of navigating. Some popular options include:

Flickr. One of the original photo websites, this option is still popular for picture storage. From Yahoo, Flickr has a large community of photographers with whom to interact and groups for just about any interest. You have the option to make your photos public or private. Using mobile apps and from any device, you can upload, edit and browse photos from your friends and groups. There are many ways to organize photos, such as chronologically or by subject. However, recent design changes have made it more confusing to navigate the site.

With a free Yahoo account, Flickr offers free storage up to 1 terabyte (TB), enough for 500,000 photos, with a 200 megabyte (MB) size limit for each photo. This service comes with advertisements, but you can skip the ads by paying $6 per month. You may also purchase more storage.

Google Photos. If you want, Google Photos will do all the work for you. Not only will it automatically edit your photo, the site will also put together panoramas. On mobile apps, it will routinely upload photos from your phone or tablet. Using its “Stories” feature, Google Photos automatically organizes your photos from trips or other notable events into an album, which places photos on a timeline and includes maps. The site can turn your shots into animated “movies.” You can also manually create and edit albums. You decide how public or private to make your photos. One of the disadvantages for more serious photographers is that Google compresses photos larger than 16 megapixels and videos with a higher resolution than 180p.

With a free Google account, you get 15GB of space for free, and pay for extra storage, either $1.99 per month for 100GB or $9.99 per month for 1TB.

Amazon Prime Photos. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription ($99 annually), you get unlimited photo storage and space for up to 5GB of video or non-photo images, such as documents. The site is simpler than other photo-sharing sites. Amazon organizes your pictures into albums by default and shares photos in an email, through Facebook or on your computer or device, or you can organize them yourself. You can use apps for PC, iOS, Android and Kindle Fire to upload and view your photos, or you can do so on Amazon's website. If you don’t have a Prime subscription, the Unlimited Photos plan costs $12 per year, with a three-month free trial.

Photobucket. This popular site offers unlimited photo and video storage (with file size limits), album organization, Facebook integration and mobile apps. It offers basic editing tools, such as red-eye removal, sharpening and cropping, plus filters, frames and stickers.

One of Photobucket’s strengths is the many ways to share photos with others: You can create albums where friends can contribute photos, videos and text of their own, and you can post pictures to Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Photobucket’s large community of users can post pictures to a public photo feed, with comments, so you can reach beyond your family and friends. Photobucket automatically creates URLs for sharing and embedding your photos.

Photobucket is free for up to 2GB of storage, with an extra 8GB if you use the Photobucket mobile apps for iOS and Android. For 20GB, it’s $2.99 per month.

ThisLife by Shutterfly. If you want the ability to turn your photos into books and other photo gifts, this is a good site, because it’s connected to Shutterfly, a popular photo printing service. ThisLife will collect your pictures scattered throughout the Internet, including Facebook, Picasa and Flickr, and organize them by date and place. You can further organize pictures by category and people tags, or create “Story” galleries that you can share through email. However, ThisLife doesn't offer any editing tools, other than cropping. One feature is a joint account, where two people can upload photos, keeping a constantly updated collection. Photo storage is free and unlimited, but if you want to upload videos too, you'll need to pay.

Apple iCloud Photo Library. Apple’s photo storage communicates with an iPhone and Mac computer. This program is mainly for organizing and sharing photos and is not meant for editing. You can organize photos and videos by date, time and location. You can also create albums, including shared albums, where multiple people, such as friends or travel companions, can share photos in one space. 

iCloud gives you just 5GB of storage for free, but you can get more storage for a monthly fee. Costs start at $1 per month for 20GB.
Other Options

If all you are looking for is a site just to share photos with others, without any editing or organizing tools, you can use cloud-sharing sites that will also serve as a backup for your photos (as well as other types of files). These include Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive.

For roughly $10 monthly, these sites generally supply generous storage space, provide unlimited file sizes, let you download photos to any device and offer sharing options and public links, so that you can share photos with friends and family.

If you’re a serious photographer and want to connect with others who love photography, check out 500px and Smugmug. When compared to other photo-sharing websites, these sites offer more design choices for displaying your work.

500px is free for 20 uploads a week. Plans start at $2.08 per month and allow unlimited uploads and the ability to organize photos into sets.

Smugmug also gives photographers control over licensing, download options, watermarking and more. The site always uploads photos and videos at full resolution. Unlike other photo-sharing sites, there are no free options except for a two-week trial period. Plans range from $40 to $300.


“Flickr, Google Photos, Photobucket and more: Which photo storage service is right for you?” June 10, 2015, CNET 

“The Best Photo Sharing Sites,” Aug. 11, 2014, Techlicious 

“Five Best Image Hosting Web Sites,” Jan. 18, 2015, Lifehacker

“All-time greatest album,” The Verge

How to Share Photos Online was featured in the August Senior Spirit Newsletter.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors.