Looking for a Good Photo Sharing Site

Over the last few months, I've been developing my interest in photography, in particular as a result of acquiring a new digital SLR camera earlier this year (a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT - it's a great camera, incidentally). Despite my best efforts at editing unwanted pictures out of my collection, I currently have approximately 7,000 images (and counting). Aside from my desire to backup these precious memories in as many locations as possible, I've also been looking for an online hosting service where I can make selected images available for distant family and friends to view at their leisure. I've not yet found the ideal photo sharing site for my needs, which surprised me given how many are springing up all over the Internet. Perhaps my wish list is unreasonable, but I don't think any of my requests are outlandish:

  • I'd like to be able to upload all of my images for storage (so I potentially need up to 10GB of storage space);
  • I'd like to be able to make the original images available for download, whilst also providing reduced sized versions for visitors with a limited bandwidth connection;
  • I'd like to be able to filter images by a keyword or rating so that my poor friends don't have to wade through all our photos just to see a few highlights;
  • I'm looking for some semblance of privacy: I'm not prepared to have my photos splashed all over the home page of the provide for any random individual to browse (à la Flickr), yet I don't really want to force my visitors to become members of the site to be able to browse my images. Knowing the URL for my site is sufficient obfuscation for my purposes;
  • I'd rather like to be able to order framed and unframed prints, enlargements and albums from the site at a reasonable cost (extra points if the site supports international orders).

So far, I don't seem to have found any one mainstream site that can deliver all of the above. Sites seem to fall into two categories - those whose primary function is hosting (usually for a membership fee), and those who are primarily selling prints and photo gifts (usually free). Here's a quick run-down of the ones I've looked at:

  • MSN Spaces has a user-friendly interface and integrates with MSN Messenger, but it has a ludicrous 20MB limit and is clearly not designed for more than the casual snapper;
  • PBase seems popular amongst the semi-pro crowd, but have suffered reliability problems and would cost me $600/yr if I uploaded all my photos at the original size;
  • Shutterfly is free, great for ordering, has unlimited storage and good album editing facilities, but the album sharing capabilities are new and still fairly primitive;
  • Snapfish look good on the surface except that they charge you per photo to download your own images at high-resolution - a little cheeky, I'd say;
  • Flickr are perhaps the most famous, but they're not really orientated around a private photo collection, as described above, unless everyone becomes a Flickr member.
  • Ofoto are much like Snapfish - they're geared very heavily around selling you stuff, and the images that are available for sharing are tiny.

For the moment, I'm currently splitting my allegiances across two sites. I've started to upload all my photos to Shutterfly, since they have unlimited storage. I've ordered a couple of photo books from them and the quality has been really excellent, and they always have some special offer or another on which makes their prices reasonably attractive. I'm hoping that their photo sharing facilities will also gradually improve as they mature. I'm also investigating a new entry on my radar called Fotki which on the surface seems to do everything on my wish list above at a pretty reasonable price ($50/year). The one thing that puts me off Fotki so far is that the interface isn't as polished as some of the other sites - it's all a bit of a mish-mash of functionality rather than an integrated whole, which lends it a rather amateurish feel, but that's a minor point.

I'd be interested in any other recommendations or experiences: has anyone used another site other than the ones I mentioned above?

Comments (11)

  1. M3 Sweatt says:

    Have you tried http://www.photoworks.com/? Although the interface isn’t as slick as the sites you mention, they do provide "FREE Unlimited storage" (note that if you upload an image with more than 3K pixels on a side, they scale the image). We’ve archived our old film photos there sings the late 90’s… and since added our digital collections as well. Kind of like an Iron Mountain for personal pictures.

    They also have guest browsing of photos, where an invite is sent only to people you want to see the photos: they get a specific URL.

    You didn’t mention what file format, but Filmworks supports JPEG, TIFF and BMPs.

    I’ve found their quality to be excellent, plus they have a money-back guaratnee if you don’t like the results.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Smugmug satisfies all of your requirements.

    Unlimited file storage, you can upload 8MP images. You can arrange into categories, subcategories, and galleries, and apply keywords and ratings.

    3 levels of subscription, each giving more bandwidth per month (lowest level gives a gig per month) the cheap subscription (which does everything you want) is only $40/yr

    You can password protect individual galleries and whatnot.

    At the medium subscription level you can change the look and feel of the site, and at the high subscription level, you can charge for prints, and they send you the profit.

    Check out my smugmug site : http://jasoncoyne.smugmug.com

    and if you signup, use my registration code, and we both get a discount!

    My Code : yrcv4WQeTDyWQ

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would recommend http://www.smugmug.com. For ~$24.00 a year, they offer unlimited storage and and the features you’re looking for.

    http://rafael.smugmug.com is my page with them.

    If you decide to go with them, be sure and use my referral code which is e7Ik1KskWlw4s.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I like sony’s http://www.imagestation.com free unlimited storage, and for $4.99/year you and your guests have access to the full resolution photographs.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Not necessarily a wet blanket on Photoworks, but their terms and conditions states:


    Price and Payment

    While your photos are in the PhotoWorks archive you’ll be able to view and share them for free. PhotoWorks will store your photos for free in our online archive as long as you remain an active customer. You will be an active customer as long as you purchase products or services from PhotoWorks within a twelve-month period. These terms and conditions are subject to change upon notice sent to your e-mail address in our records.


    (Un)Fortunately, they do not mention how much must be spent. They do, however, mention that it is subject to change.

    fine print.. fine print.. fine print..

  6. Anonymous says:

    I use smugmug and have had pretty good experiance. They let you brand it with your own look and feel and offer a pretty good mix of features. http://www.smugmug.com

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wont claim that it will satisfy all your needs, but for completeness you should also check out Sony ImageStation (http://www.imagestation.com).

    Pros: can keep original sizes and at over 20Gb I havent yet run out of space.

    Cons: they are about to start charging me (though prices are reasonable)

  8. Anonymous says:

    PC Mag just did a review of such sites. Check it out at:


  9. Anonymous says:

    You may have a look at http://atpic.com

    This site offers a bunch of free disk space. It is simple to use and fast.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure you’ve already figured out which services you like, because I see you posted this almost a year ago. However I am searching for a photo sharing/printing service to meet MY needs and stumbled on your blog.  

    Meanwhile I found these two links which rate top best photo sharing and the best photo printing sites.



    Good luck!

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