How to Share That Perfect Picture

So you’ve followed our tips for photographing children and got some gorgeous shots of little Madison with birthday cake on her nose. Now you want to share them with Granny and Aunt Maud on the other side of the country because you know they’ll find the cake-nose thing just too cute for words! So what’s the best way to share your photographic masterpieces with family and friends? Well, guess what here at Photodoto we’ve made a handy little guide to some of your online photo sharing options just for you, and Granny, and Aunt Maud. Here it is:

Flickr It’s the big one, everyone’s heard of it and the site has over 3 billion photos (here’s the 3 billionth). Back in the day when I first joined Flickr as a gangly teenager it was just Flickr but now it’s owned by Yahoo! so you do need a Yahoo! account to join.

A basic account is free and allows you to upload 2 videos and 100MB of photos per month, however even if you upload the original high-res shot only smaller sizes will be accessible. A Pro account costs $24.95/year and allows unlimited photo & video uploading and unlimited storage, plus you can upload high-res originals and use Flickr to archive them.

You can make your photos public, visible to family & friends, visible to only family, or completely private (i.e. no one but you can see them, which does somewhat defeat the photo sharing idea). You can share photos, videos, & slideshows. Videos are limited to 90 seconds though. If you have a family member who doesn’t want to sign up for an account you can send them a guest pass to view some of your family & friends only photos.

Photobucket Probably better known for it’s photo gifts and prints Photobucket has been around since 2003 and boasts 25 million unique visitors per month in the US alone. It’s free account offers up to 1GB of space for photos & videos combined & up to 25GB of traffic per month. Photobucket also resize photos on free accounts (so no high-res images) and limit video to 5 minutes on all accounts. A Pro account costs $29.95/year and allows up to 10GB of or storage and unlimited uploading, plus 10% of photobucket products.

Photobucket offers public and private accounts and allow the use of guest passwords so your less-technologically minded family members don’t have to sign up for an account of their own to view your photos. There is also the option to have a mixed public and private account by making sub-albums on a public account private.

SmugMug Certainly one of the best looking photo sharing sites out there, SmugMug is aimed at a more professional crowd but it’s still great for private sharing. You can make individual photos, galleries, or your entire site private and add passwords to galleries or the whole site. Storage & uploading are unlimited and high-res sizes are allowed and the site will act as a back-up system too. SmugMug also offers the ability to make slideshows and adds the option of adding themes to your galleries.

It does all look really good, however there is no free account but three levels of paid account; standard for $39.95/year, power for $59.95/year, or Pro for $149.95/year. They do offer a free 14-day trial which does not require any credit card information so is genuinely risk-free.

Picasa Web Albums If you use Picasa (which I personally think is a great free photo editing program) then Web Albums may well be your easiest option. The site offers 1GB of storage on a free account and you can publish photos from Picasa to your web album with one click of the mouse. Uploading of videos, slideshows, and collages is also available.

A good feature for sharing with family and friends is the “Shared with” list which allows you to e-mail invitations to view your online albums. The recipient of the e-mail can then view the albums you’ve invited them to regardless of the privacy settings so no need for them to sign up for an account. Plus you can view the list of who you’ve shared an album with so you won’t leave Aunt Maud out by mistake!

Create Your Own Website If you want to make things a little more personal or perhaps post a lot of text with a photo then a blog may be your best bet. Most blogs offer three basic privacy levels; public and visible in search engines, public and not visible to search engines (so in theory only visible to people you give the url to), and private with password protection. Photoblog offers free accounts and is, obviously specifically aimed at photo bloggers. WordPress and Blogger offer free blogs with easy-to-use design tools and if you’re not planning to upload hundreds of photos (or large file sizes) could easily be used to create your own photo blogging corner of the internet.

Facebook It’s free, you can upload photos and videos to your hearts content and can restrict them as visible to all facebook users, all your facebook friends, or certain facebook friends. Choosing Facebook does mean that all the family and friends you want to see the photos will need their own account. But it’s free and with all the other Facebook features you may soon find yourself with your own little online family community! And it’s clearly a popular way to share photos, Facebook has more photos (over 4 billion) than Flickr.


  1. Be careful though – according to Facebooks terms of service, they own your photos when you upload them. Don’t use them if you want to be positive that your kids’ faces won’t end up in an ad without your permission.

  2. i prefer setting up my own websites for photo sharing. but wordpress is a bit limited for photo sharing, in my experience. i use coppermine. another option for your own hosted site photo sharing solution is gallery. they’re both free and highly customizable.

  3. Good point. With any sharing of photos online you need to be aware that others may be able to use them. However Facebook’s terms of service don’t actually say they OWN the photos, rather that they have a IP license to use them, you still own the photos. And it’s subject to privacy settings so if you’re keeping them private for friends only to view then it doesn’t apply.

  4. Nice article, Ray! Although these services are popular, they’re still not mainstream enough. (In other words, I still know lots of people that share photos via email. Gah!)

    Zenfolio is another service that’s similar to SmugMug. (I’m a proud Zenfolio user.)

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