What Are the Best Online Photo Sites?
Facebook is the biggest destination for photos, but it doesn’t do a lot more than let you show your friends some snapshots. If you want to store high-resolution photos, order prints or present your images in an online portfolio, you need to reroute your shots to a dedicated photo site. Most of them let you export copies of your images to social networking sites, too.
What are my options for storing and sharing photos?
There are four main types of sites, depending on what's most important to you:
Print-oriented: Many sites let you order prints, but sites like Shutterfly (shown) and Snapfish have more print options and let you make photo books, calendars and other specialty items. You can even have your photos printed for pickup at a local store.
Community-oriented: Long before Instagram, Flickr (shown) and Photo.net each became a type of social network built around photography, where members get and give feedback on images from other photographers. Community-oriented sites have rich tools for interacting with other members, such as discussion forums and group projects. [6 Tips to Use Instagram Like a Pro]
Cloud storage: A few sites that are primarily for storage, such as SugarSync (shown), also let you display your uploaded images in albums. Their display options are generally not as rich as those of dedicated photo-gallery sites, but they’re a good option if you want to store a large volume of photos, along with other files. [What is “Cloud” File Syncing?]
Pro: Sites such asPhanfare and SmugMug (shown) are for serious photographers (whether they get paid for it or not) who want to give their images a professional, customizable presentation. Many of these users also sell their prints directly from the sites.
What do they cost?
Many sites offer free accounts that give you a small amount of storage or reduce the resolution of your photos when you upload them. If you’re interested enough to put your photos online, you’ll probably need to upgrade to a paid service.
Most sites run from about $20 to $200 per year. Flickr's "Pro" account, for example, is $25 per year; Phanfare ranges from $29 to $199. Some sites accept unlimited uploads but give you more features for a higher fee, while others charge according to storage space. A few sites have different models. Snapfish, for example, doesn’t charge for your unlimited storage of full-resolution photos, as long as you print some of them at least once a year.
How reliable are online image-storage sites?
A financially unstable online photo service could go down and take your photos with it overnight. It’s happened before. All the sites we've mentioned here have very good records. That said, it's always a good idea to back up your most valued photos — like that view from Kilimanjaro, or from the nursery — in multiple places.