Online portfolios for hobbyists and serious photographers provide sharing options that eliminate the tedium of sending your photos by snail mail. Uploading your pictures to a photo-sharing website not only gets them out of the camera but also provides a safe place to back up your treasured memories. The best photo-sharing sites also make it easy to upload from mobile devices and to publish your photos on blogs and social media sites. Many of the best sharing sites offer free accounts with storage limits and paid accounts with upgraded features.
Now owned by Yahoo, Flickr accounts are automatic for Yahoo Mail users. Those who don’t have Yahoo accounts can register with an email address or an existing Facebook or Google account. Flickr members with free accounts can upload up to 300MB of media per month, which includes a maximum of two videos. A Flickr Pro account offers unlimited storage for a nominal yearly fee. Flickr users have access to basic photo-editing tools for uploaded pictures only through Picnik, a photo-editing service. When Picnik closes down in April 2012, Flickr members will need third-party tools to edit photos in their accounts.
With Flickr’s privacy options, you can restrict who views your photos and prevent unauthorized downloading. Flickr supports uploads by email and from popular mobile phone platforms, including Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Windows 7. It has a desktop application and provides integration with programs such as Aperture, iPhoto, Picasa and Windows Live Gallery. Alexa’s list of Top 50 websites by traffic ranks Flickr.com as number 37 in the U.S. and 47th globally. Flickr is the only photo-sharing website in the Alexa Top 100.
Photobucket gives its members unlimited photo storage space, a feature that sets it apart from other free photo-sharing websites. Users also receive a generous storage allowance of 500 videos per account. Register using a Facebook or Twitter account or an email address. Users can keep media private with password protection or allow public viewing and use. Photobucket supports Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Windows 7 phones and provides the Snapbucket app for iPhone and Android sharing.
Photobucket gives users the ability to organize files utilizing tags, albums and slideshows. Free photo-editing tools and photo-gift options also draw users to Photobucket. Professional accounts, available for an annual fee, are ad-free and members can upload high-resolution photos; professional members also receive discounts on photo-printing services and gifts.
Apple's iCloud is free with all of its OS 5 devices. Included in the iCloud service is Apple's cross-platform photo-sharing service iPhoto, which provides options for syncing, storing and sharing your photos. All users must also have an iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone to set up a photo-sharing account; PC users must have Vista or Windows 7. Apple provides 5GB of free storage and lets users upload documents and music to the same account. Sign up with an existing iTunes account or by creating a new iCloud account. Organize your collections by theme, date or custom tags. The service has Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and email integration options. Apple provides editing options that you can use to create and gift items. Privacy options for iCloud give you the ability to restrict access to your media.
The Picasa photo-sharing site is a Google service that appears as a top choice on almost every photo-sharing review list. In addition to the reliability and familiarity of Google, Picasa offers simplicity for novices. Once you download and install the desktop software, Picasa automatically searches your computer’s hard drive for photos and adds them to your online account. Picasa also uploads your photos to Web albums that you can make public or share privately by email invitation. Users need a Google or Gmail account to register for Picasa. The 1GB of photo storage is part of your total for all Google services. You can add 20GB of additional shared storage for Google services for a few dollars a year. The online Web album has no editing tools, which are provided only in Picasa’s desktop software. Picasa supports email, Google+, Blogger and Twitter integration. Facebook sharing requires a third-party application. Picasa’s integration with Google Maps makes it simple to embed location data in your photos with Google’s geotagging tools.
Smug Mug, a paid photo-sharing site, was selected by Consumer Search as best photo-sharing site in 2009 and was a PC World “Best Bet” in 2011. A basic, paid membership includes a choice of more than 50 photo gallery templates. Smug Mug provides CSS and HTML customization options, a custom site name and 1080p video uploads for Power members and Pro members, who pay higher annual membership fees. Pro membership includes e-commerce options you can use to sell media downloads. Smug Mug memberships do not impose storage limits, but a maximum file size of 24MB is enforced. You can create slideshows, photo gifts and embed photos in blogs and emails. Share photos directly on Twitter and Facebook, Tumbler and FriendFeed. The service provides integration with iPhoto, Lightroom and Picasa. Smug Mug apps are also available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Use the site’s privacy options to hide your photos completely or use passwords to protect certain galleries.
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