Sharing Digital Photos

Sharing digital photos is one of the greatest gifts of modern technology.

One of the best concepts to come out of the near-simultaneous advent of digital photography and the Internet has been the ease with which people can share photos.

Rather than waiting on prints to be ready, then mailing them to far away relatives, people can share their photos with anyone with an Internet connection instantly. It is now possible to share the first photos of your new baby with friends and family around the world before he's even a day old!

While emailing photos is one way to get precious pictures to people, it is very easy to accidentally leave someone out of your mailing list, and there is the additional fact that people can be wary of multiple-megabyte sized email messages arriving in their mailbox.

Once you've shared your photo sharing site information with people, they can check back often, at their convenience. There are a number of ways of sharing digital photos on the web, and there are features and perks with each that can help you choose the best service for your needs.

First things first

Make sure you have backup files of all your pictures in two or more places. Store them on your computer's internal or external hard drive, and make CD or DVD copies to keep in another location in case your home falls victim to flood, fire, or other disaster.

Storing copies online is a good idea, too. However, some photo sharing sites will delete unused accounts after a certain period of inactivity. Be sure to check the terms of any site you store photos on to minimize the chance of this happening.

Ways of sharing digital photos

Here are three ways of sharing digital photos:

1. using social networking sites like Facebook;
2. using photo sharing sites like Flickr; and
3. using new iPhone applications.

Using social networking sites

Social networking sites not only allow sharing of digital photos, some have teamed up with printer companies to make printing them easy.

On MySpace, for example, clicking the "Print" box gives you access to a printer-friendly version of a picture. From this you can print single pictures or several smaller pictures and order specialty items like photo cubes and calendars. The drawback is that photos you print from MySpace will have the MySpace logo on the photo.

On Facebook, maximum resolution is about 600 x 600 pixels. This is good enough to make a good quality 4 x 6 inch print, but printing larger versions will require higher resolution pictures than Facebook offers.

If you plan to share photos on a social networking site, it is wise to check your privacy settings to see if you are comfortable with the level of privacy you have chosen. On Facebook, profiles are private by default. Privacy settings can be adjusted with the "Settings" tab. On MySpace, making your profile private involves clicking on the "Customize Profile" button and following the directions there.

Using photo sharing sites

Sites like Flickr, Photobucket, and Snapfish allow free photo sharing accounts to be quite large, so you may not need to buy a premium membership on these sites. At any rate, don't buy a premium account until you've checked out all your options. You may find a free site that does exactly what you want.

Picasa, by Google is another great option for online digital photo sharing. It is free, for one thing, and offers free downloadable Picasa software that allows basic "touch-up" functions for improving digital photos.

You can upload pictures from Picasa on your desktop to public or private Picasa web albums. Those who have declared you a "favorite" will be notified whenever you update your album. Additionally, Picasa Web allows friends to download full resolution pictures so they can print out their own copies or send them to an online photo printing service.

Using iPhone applications

One of the newest ways of sharing digital photos is with an iPhone. A manufacturer of WiFi SD camera memory cards, Eye-Fi, has a fairly new iPhone application that will allow Eye-Fi card owners with iPhones to send photos taken with their iPhone directly to their computer and the Internet, with the choice of sending photos to one of 25 online photo sharing and social networking sites.

In a nutshell, sharing digital photos has never been easier. Online photo storage sites have become quite generous with the file sizes they will store, and with new apps like the one from Eye-Fi, pictures can go straight from iPhone to Internet.

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