Photo Sharing: From Flickr, Facebook and Shutterfly to iWeb, .Mac and Pixamo
What's the best way to share photos with family and friends? There are many options and some important things to consider -- especially security and privacy. Remember that while you may be comfortable with your photos displayed on the WWW, your friends and family may not be. There are plenty of options to privacy-protect your photos and we recommend taking that step. Another big thing to consider is if your photo sharing service requires that people create an account to view the photos -- that can be annoying for friends and family and open them up to spam and one more password to remember. We've taken an overview of some popular services below. Our favorites? Pixamo, .Mac and SmugMug.
Facebook: Creep with Caution
It's easy to upload and share photos on Facebook. However, it is 100% NOT private. Think twice before placing photos of friends and family here. Facebook users can search through profiles in a million different ways -- location, school, workplace, names, and of course through the "friends" you have made. It's likely that every day some stranger looks at your Facebook profile, so exercise caution.
Flickr: Two Ways to Use It
Flickr is a vibrant community but with many reported security problems. If you wish to share photos because you are a photographer or hobbyist, it can be fun to leave your profile public and receive comments from other Flickr members. For personal photos though, we recommend that you check "private" when uploading photos. You can then invite family and friends to access it with a password. Even better -- see instructions to create a private group so your guests can chatter.
Kodak/Shutterfly/Snapfish: Streamlined for Printing
If you use Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly or Snapfish for printing, then this could be the most streamlined approach for photo sharing. The major drawback here is that your guests need to register with the sites in order to view your photos. They are also commercial sites trying to sell stuff, so your photos will be among much advertising.
.Mac/iWeb: For DIY Folks
First, you need a MAC computer. Then, you can have a lot of fun creating your own web site with a .Mac account and/or iWeb software. .Mac has a 60-day free trial and is basically 10GB of space on a server that you can use to share photos, sync mail and bookmarks, host a web site or just store/share files -- check out the demos to learn more. The interface is easy and pleasantly designed and your guests can download hi-res files of your photos if you wish. If you take it a step further with iWeb (part of iLife -- see demos), you can follow easy templates and create your own web site. Anything you load to .Mac can be easily password protected. Amazon is selling both .Mac and iLife at a discount ($72.99 and $69.99 respectively).
PhotoBucket: The #1 Most Popular Photo Site in the US
PhotoBucket works a lot like Flickr. All the same advice applies -- make your personal photos private. There's some one-click features here that will transport your images to Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. You'll find the crowd on PhotoBucket to be more of the social network set, while Flickr is a little more artsy.
Pixamo: The New Standard
Special thanks to our reader Karen who tipped us off to Pixamo.
Pixamo is great. Easy to use, safe and smart features galore. View the tour to see for yourself. It's got everything the other sites have but is simply more intuitive -- plus a brilliant private invitation system. You can order prints, participate in the community or just do your private thing with family and friends. The photo management system is clean AND you can move photos to Pixamo from other sites (Yahoo, Kodak, Shutterfly, etc.) Definitely give this one a look.
SmugMug: The Best Looking Site
The only paid photo sharing service (14-day free trial, $39.95/year) of the bunch, SmugMug is a wonderful place with an intimate community. We talked about this earlier when looking at digital photo services. It's top-notch security, nice gallery presentation and a family run company that touts personal service and humans on the phone. The printed offerings through SmugMug are high-end and unique. Give it a try and judge for yourself if it's worth the price.
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Posted by Susan Moriarty at February 20, 2008 6:37 AM