Remember that trip to Italy? You met that great group of friends, wandered the cobbled water-cut streets of Venice, pretended to battle in the ancient colosseum of Rome, picked lemons in Seville. Or how about that time you went camping and your ex. brought their guitar along, but it got so cold (and their music was so annoying) that you burned it to keep warm (and sane). You remember, right? I mean, you did take photos, didn’t you? Life is full of adventures and special moments. Whether it’s a wedding, birth, or just a night out with a few chums, photos help us to remember the good times and reminisce about our experiences in years to come.
With the dawn of digital photography, it can be easy to let your memories sit on a hard disc somewhere, forgotten. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have access to your photos wherever and whenever you wanted them? Well, now you can.
Photo sharing websites allow you to store all of your digital photos online. This means that you can access them wherever you are. You can also share them with friends and family, either by emailing them a link or by sharing them over social networking sites like Facebook. What’s more, a lot of these sites come with added extras such as editing tools to make your photos even better, and some allow you to order prints or gifts with your own images printed onto them.
Storing your precious photos online also keeps them safe in the event that your home goes up in smoke or you hard drives get lost or stolen. Most material possessions can be replaced by something quite similar (in style, cut, functionality) but your precious photos are irreplaceable.
A subscription for a photo sharing website also makes a great gift for family and friends. If you think that flowers or clothing might be regarded as a bit cliché, and luxury chocolates or alcohol are not an option because the recipient is on a health-kick again, a photo sharing website gift subscription is a great alternative. It's something quite personal (especially if you use the same service yourself and can share your experience with them), it's suitable for many age groups and levels of technical knowledge (there are pleny of over 60s using photo sharing websites to their fullest potential), and a photo sharing website gift subscription won't derail the recipient's latest age-defying diet.
This buying guide will take you through a few of the key things to look out for when deciding on which photo sharing website is right for you. We use a star rating system to provide a summary of each site at a quick glance, but we also provide written information regarding costs, features and our overall impression of each site. So, here’s our guide to working your way through our reviews and picking the best photograph sharing website for you:
- Quality of sharing features
For a lot of people, a big part of uploading their photos online is being able to access them when they’re away from their computer. However, it’s also great if you can share them with friends and family, or even work colleagues. If you’re an avid user of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, look out for sites which allow you to share your photos on these platforms. The best photo-sharing sites for social networkers will allow you to share photos or whole albums with a single click, synchronizing between your picture account and your profile page.
Additionally, you may wish to look out for sites which offer you options to help protect your pictures. This might range from password protection to including branding options. Some of these websites offer public galleries which you can contribute to, as well as allowing you to sell your work to people who are interested. This makes photo sharing sites suitable for family snaps and professional photographs alike.
- Range and quality of prints and gifts
Whilst some photograph sharing websites focus solely on digital storage and sharing, others will allow you to print copies of photos. These are often sent through the post, or you can sometimes collect them from a store. There are a number of image sharing websites which also allow you to use your images to create unique gifts, such as calendars, mugs, mouse mats, iPad cases and more. We look at what’s on offer, both in terms of range and quality, and assess how they compare with their peers.
- Other features
When it comes to your photos, you might wish to edit out particular features, add in borders or stickers, or even simply organize them in a way which suits you. Look out for editing tools which you feel might be helpful. For example, if you want to be a little artistic, you might want to change the coloring. If you have young kids, you might wish to look for a suite which offers fun tools such as being able to write on the images or add silly stickers.
The travelers among you might be interested in Geo-tagging, which essentially keeps a record of where you were when a photo was taken, building a sort of world-map-cum-diary of your explorations. We look at a range of additional features which we think might appeal to photographers (be they professional or amateur) and discuss stand-out features in our Editor’s Review.
- Ease of use and navigation
When it comes to uploading, editing and sharing photos, things could get a little complex. Thankfully, many of the sites we’ve reviewed have made this as simple as possible by offering sites which have been well thought out and designed. If you’re new to photo sharing, then you may wish to look for a website which has automatic editing features, and, if you have a lot of snaps to upload, you will want to find a website with plenty of storage which also allows you to upload multiple photos at once.
- Ease of joining and registration
A few of the sites we’ve reviewed here will actually allow you to access their features without registering at all. However, if you want to keep your files online and access them later, you’ll need to register. This is, on the whole, simple, but do be wary of any websites which request your credit card details for a free sign up, or any site which we feel doesn’t offer you an easy sign up process.
- Customer support
Things can go wrong, that’s life. However, when they do go wrong you want a team who is capable and professional. We look at the online and offline support for anyone who needs assistance. Do you want email support? Live chat? A page of answers to frequently asked questions? How about video tutorials? All of this is available, and if you do feel a little overwhelmed by the world of photo storage and sharing online, you will want to choose a website which offers some decent customer support.
- Value for money
This will factor into three things:
We take all of this into account when deciding whether or not a website offers you good value for your money. Whilst some sites are cheaper, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you get better value for money if their services are inferior.
How expensive is it to store and share your photos? Some sites offer unlimited free storage, whereas others will charge you for a relatively small amount of data.
How much do gifts and prints cost? If you want to order these, you’ll want to find a site which offers fair prices for high quality products.
Are there added features which offer you more options and therefore better value for money?
Whether it’s pics from the pyramids, snaps of crocodiles in Florida, or just a few family photos, photo sharing websites have plenty on offer to help you keep and enjoy those memories for years to come!