One of the benefits of digital photography is the ability to share photographs with friends and family without the cost and inconvenience of developing and mailing prints. Many, however, are unaware of some more efficient ways to share digital photos. Have you ever received a large e-mail to find that a friend attached pictures of his kids that were never resized? There are better ways.
Online Photo Storage and Printing Service
One of the easiest ways to share photos with friends is to upload them to an online photo printing service. All have simple interfaces and the ability to create different albums for different occassions. I highly recommend you upload the original photo, without resizing, to the photo service. These services provide an affordable way to get prints of your favorite photos (much cheaper than printing yourself after factoring in consumables). You also have the ability to send the photo album links to friends and family where they can conveniently view the photos and even purchase any photos they want.
An even more important consideration is something that most people don’t give enough though to: what if your computer crashes? One of the reasons I have chosen SmugMug for my online photo storage is that, in addition to using it to sell photos from the semi-pro work that I do, I’m able to upload images I want to make sure I don’t lose if my computer crashes. When it comes to keeping your images safe, I don’t think cheaper is better. Make sure you’ve got a good way to preserve those memories and recover them in the event of a disaster. I’m not a fan of free services like ImageShack or PhotoBucket because I would rather pay for an advertisement free system and utilize them in a variety of settings. I’ve found that many firewalls block the free service’s images.
The following is a list of some of the top online photo printing services:
Top Online Photo Services
- Securely backup your photos
- Enjoy unlimited storage
- Sleep well with backup DVDs
- Say goodbye to ads & spam
- Say hello to complete privacy
- Personalize with themes
- Send beautiful photo email
- See your photos BIG
- See them on your iPhone
- Buy professional prints & gifts
- Post photos in blogs & forums
- Crop the bad parts Enhance the good parts
- Retrieve your high-res photos
- Organize at light speed
- Add photos from camera phones
- Have your own URL
- Track unlimited traffic to your photos
- Be notified of comments
- Create private ShareGroups
- Create and join communities
- Make life easy with Web 2.0: Tags, RSS feeds, APIs, and Ajax
- See photos on Google Maps Network with friends and family
- Find popular photos fast View by timeline Just $39.95/year
- Snapfish by HP is the number one online photo service, with more than 50 million members in 20 countries and 2 billion unique photos stored online.
- Snapfish is a division of HP, one of the world’s largest IT companies with a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services, and IT infrastructure
- With Snapfish, customers can share and store their photo for free and create prints and personalized photo gifts online for the best value.
- They offer professionally-developed prints for just 9¢ each, with 4" x 6" prints as low as 8¢ each with a pre-paid plan, and film developing for just $2.99 per roll.
- Their online photo sharing, storage, and editing tools and software are free, and customers can even create private group rooms for event sharing with friends and family.
- They also provide mobile photo services and a subscription video sharing and storage plans.
- Snapfish offers more than 100 unique, customizable photo gifts, from a full line of display-quality photo books, calendars, and posters, to photo mugs, mousepads, key chains, and jewelry.
- Free online photo storage: Shutterfly has never deleted a photo.
- Free online photo sharing: Your friends and family can view pictures you want to share without having to log in or sign up. They just click on a link in your email and instantly view a slideshow of your newest memories.
- Free photo software: Shutterfly Studio lets you easily organize, edit and share your growing picture collections directly from your desktop. Plus quickly add your favorites to Shutterfly and order prints.
- Photo borders: Enhance your prints for free with more than 400 colorful, festive and seasonal borders that range from new baby to birthday, wedding to so much more. You can even add personalized captions.
- Back-of-print messaging: Every photo you order from Shutterfly can be personalized for free with a short message on the reverse side. This ensures that you and future generations will always remember the who, what and where of special times.
- They print on durable Kodak Royal Paper, your choice of glossy or matte, in all popular sizes from 3×5 to 30×40. (Posters from 12×18 and up are printed on Kodak Endura photo paper.)
- Most print orders are shipped in 24 hours. Heavy weight protective packaging ensures your memories arrive without damage at your doorstep.
- To help sort and track large print runs, you can print on the back of 3×5, 4xD, 4×6 and 5x7s. You can order cropped or uncropped images.
- Their state-of-the-art online cart helps ensure that you’ll be satisfied with your order.
- Finally, they guarantee their workmanship, and will reprint if they’ve made a mistake.
- Members get a free photo web site, free photo hosting for blogs, and the ability to send photos to cell phones.
- Members also get the revolutionary dotPhoto Show – the only browser-based slide show tool that mixes your photos, music, narration and transitions with cool "Ken Burns" effects.
- You can even turn your dotPhoto Shows into DVDs or plug them in as "widgets" or full-sized shows in your blog or community site.
Photo Album Software
In addition to the above printing services, the two top photo album software packages offer tools to share photos online. Adobe Photoshop Album, and JASC Paintshop Photo Album offer easy to use tools to manage your photos on your computer and share them with friends and family. Of the two, if price is not a problem, I recommend buying Paintshop Pro (which includes the Photo Album software) as it comes with very sophisticated tools found in high-end photo editing software.
Making your Own Web Photo Albums
Any html editor will allow you to make your own web photo albums for sharing photos. I used to build web photo albums in this manner until I came upon a freeware program called JAlbum. This freeware program uses Java script to make photo albums out of images you place in a directory. It has a large variety of skins to create great web pages in an instant. If you have space on a web server and want a simple route to create a web album without using photo album software or an online printing service to host your photos then I highly recommend this program.
Getting a site online can seem difficult, conceptually, if you’ve never attempted it before. The following list is provided as a general step-by-step guide for getting a site online.
a. Determine your website needs. Is this a personal website, a business website, will you be streaming media, etc. Capture your requirements before you proceed with choosing products so you can buy the products and services that best meet your needs.
b. Choose a Site Concept. You should research your market, determine best keywords to use, what your site is going to say, and start mapping out content. You should not pick a domain name or start building pages until you’ve nailed down a solid concept. Read more in the website promotion section about how to build a content based website. This is the most important step of getting a successful site online. Don’t come up with the plan after you already are down the road a bit and have to make major course corrections.
c. Choose a domain name. Read this article to help you decide a good domain name.
d. Register you domain name. Choose a domain registrar to register your domain(s). You may want to purchase additional aliases or variations that will point to the same domain. Note that this step might be included for free with your Web Hosting company. Don’t pay for a domain name if it comes with your web hosting package.
e. Choose a Web Hosting company. Choose a web hosting company and a plan that meets your website requirements.
f. Build your website. Using an HTML editor build your website content. Preview your page regularly using multiple browsers. You may also want to consider website templates or even professional web design depending on your needs. You may also wish to consider building your website in a Content Management System.
g. Upload your website. Using an FTP client, upload your website to your web server. Your site is now online and can be viewed on the Web.
h. Promote your website. If you build it, they will not necessarily come. Learn about search engines, Pay Per Click networks, and how to make money from your site.
n my discussion of html editors, I stress that building a professional web page with good functionality and "feel" is not something that should be left to an amateur. If an organization is serious about their online presence then they need to consider how that presence will reflect upon them when people visit their site. When I am researching companies on the web, my immediate impression of them is formed by the quality of their website. If the site is cheesy and amateurish then, consciously or not, people are less likely to assume the company is professional on first impression. For example, in my extensive search of Web Hosting and Domain Registration companies, I found a number of companies that had decent offerings but their website had that "…I’m running this company out of my basement…" feel. If a company cannot put forth the effort or cannot afford a good website what makes me think I can trust them with my data?
As already mentioned, templates are an affordable method to create a professional and functional web presence. Those companies with little or no web programming knowledge or even organizations that need a stunning, unique website with custom art really should turn to professional web designers.
There are too many quality professional web design firms and individuals to rate or recommend. They are available in your local phone book and can be found in search engines by searching for website design. The best way to evaluate a web designer is to evaluate live sites that they have designed and talk to the customers to find their level of satisfaction.
Keep in mind that pro web design is not cheap. Expect to pay hundred to thousands of dollars for professional web design. If your budget cannot afford a custom site then you may want to consider an intermediate step between do-it-yourself templates and professional web design. TemplateTuning and Boxed Art both offer template customization by professional web designers. Since the web designer is not creating original work, the prices are significantly lower but the customer benefits from the skills of a professional to get the look and feel they need.