Storing & Displaying Your Pictures

Storing and displaying your pics

Not all that long ago, we used 35mm rolls of film in our cameras when we traveled. You had 24-36 shots per roll, there were no second chances and you eagerly waited to develop your prints to see your happy snaps. While on the road you were forced to carry these rolls of film (both undeveloped and developed), taking up valuable space in your pack.

Fast forward to today and we have digital cameras that let us preview every image on the spot, memory cards that can store thousands of images and are rewritable, taking up no space at all. Now most of us have a bunch of photos stored everywhere – on our phones, Facebook and Instagram profiles and computer hard drives. But what happens when you switch phones, upgrade computers, or simply want to search all your photos at once?

Using a dedicated photo storage site gives you dedicated features such as, editing, ordering prints, plus additional organization and privacy options. The more professional sites even let you sell your best images. They also provide the perfect backup for photos from your phone, tablet and camera into a single photo library.

In this guide, we showcase some of the top photo sharing/storage sites that we use or have used.

Note:

If you will be traveling to a developing country we strongly recommend taking an external hard drive or transferring photos regularly to your computer. Poor internet connections will make it near impossible (extremely frustrating at the very least) to upload even just a handful of pictures to the cloud.

1. Features to Look Out For

Cost

In this guide we will compare free storage options and paid storage options. Let’s face it, why would you pay for a service if you can get it free elsewhere right? Fees are calculated by how much storage you need and any additional ‘pro’ features.

Privacy

Privacy is a big concern these days. You should have complete control over who can see your pictures and keep private albums password protected.

Automatic photo sync

Do you mostly use your smartphone to take photos? If so, a service that syncs images automatically via a smartphone app will take the hassle out of backing up. The only downside is that the photos won’t be edited and you can end up with a big mess if you don’t keep on top of it.

Editing features

Do you have the option of editing your images within the application? This comes in handy on the road when you want to quickly tidy up a handful of images to share with your friends. Look for basic features such as cropping, color and brightness correction and the ability to add filters.

Meta info & search capability

Does the application pull detailed information about the image from your camera? How much additional information can you add to each image and can you search within the app? The more info you can add, the better organized your albums will be.

Meta info & search capability

Does the application pull detailed information about the image from your camera? How much additional information can you add to each image and can you search within the app? The more info you can add, the better organized your albums will be.

File types and sizes

If you plan on printing or selling your photos at some point, look for a service that allows full-resolution uploads and downloads. Some services, like Facebook, downsize photos for quicker uploads.

Sharing options

Does the service play nice with popular social networks by letting you import and export your existing pictures? Can you share your photos easily?

2. Free Storage

Like we said earlier, who really wants to pay for something when you can get it for free right? If you are looking to store and share your pictures online these four options will do the trick.

Google +

Sure, we know what most of you are thinking, Google + is a horrible social network and none of my friends use it. Well, while this may be true for many of you, there is indeed a strong case for using it to store your photos.

There are some really fun effects that will automatically create slideshows from your trip. It evens goes so far as to add titles, magically selecting the best photos only and location info for a slick presentation.

Google plus photos

Cost: Unlimited FREE storage for photos under 2048px by 2048px. If you need bigger than that you get 15Gb free (this includes Google Drive and Gmail).

Privacy: Complete privacy control over albums and individual photos.

Automatic Photo Sync: Yes, from an Android device or computer.

Editing Features: Extremely high level of control including auto enhancing and isolation.

Meta Info & Search: Pulls camera info, location (where possible), ability to tag Google + friends (includes facial recognition), add a description and add to albums.

File Types & Sizes: All file types, including RAW. Beware, large image will count towards your 15Gb total.

Sharing Options: This is Google’s major downfall. Unfortunately you cannot share your images to other social networks unless you plan on using a third party app.

Facebook

If you are happy to store your photos where it’s easy for friends and family to see them, then Facebook is probably the go. Like Google + you get unlimited uploads for photos up to 2048px wide and can create albums. However, Facebook only provides basic tagging, search, and privacy.

Facebook photos

Cost: Unlimited FREE storage for photos under 2048px by 2048px. Currently no option to store large resolution images.

Privacy: Control over albums and individual photos BUT if a friend tags themselves in your photo it will be visible to their friends.

Automatic Photo Sync: No.

Editing Features: Very limited.

Meta Info & Search: Ability to tag friends (includes facial recognition), add a description, use hastags and add to albums.

File Types & Sizes: All file types, NOT including RAW. Large images will be compressed.

Sharing Options: Can only share within the Facebook network, including messenger.

Instagram

This social network is built specifically for sharing photos and best suited to people who use their smartphone camera the majority of the time. Instagram became famous for providing a host of methods to filter and edit pictures on the fly.

Since the platform is 100% visual, this is a great place to get your photos into the spotlight.

Instagram

Cost: Unlimited FREE storage for photos under 640px by 640px.

Privacy: Very basic controls.

Automatic Photo Sync: Yes, photos are automatically uploaded via the mobile app.

Editing Features: High level of control including with multiple filters, cropping, color, curves and brightness.

Meta Info & Search: Very poor. Able to search via hashtag only.

File Types & Sizes: Basic file types, no RAW. Maximum 2048px by 2048px compressed to 640px by 640px.

Sharing Options: Can set up auto-sharing to Facebook.

Flickr

Flickr is a dedicated solution for amateur and professional photographers which recently added new features and a new layout. It has a wide range of organizational tools like tagging, geotagging and the option to arrange your images into groups, collections or albums making it one of the easiest sites to search. There’s a web-based editing tool for basic features such as cropping and red-eye removal.

Best of all, you get a massive 1TB of FREE storage (enough for the average person’s lifetime) and a 200MB per photo upload limit. This lets you easily upload and download images in their full original resolution.

Flickr

Cost: 1 TB FREE storage with a Yahoo account. If you need bigger you can purchase an additional terabyte for $499 per year (not much of an incentive though it is Ad Free).

Privacy: Complete privacy control over albums and individual photos.

Automatic Photo Sync: Yes, from any mobile device or install the dedicated computer uploader.

Editing Features: Extremely high level of control including auto enhancing provided by Aviary.

Meta Info & Search: Pulls camera info, location (where possible), ability to tag Flickr friends, add descriptive tags, add a description and add to albums.

File Types & Sizes: All file types, including RAW. Up to 200 MB per photo and high resolution storage.

Sharing Options: With one click share to Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest or email.

3. Cloud Storage

If you are not too concerned with displaying your photos and simply looking for somewhere to store your photos consider one of these 4 popular cloud storage providers.

To be honest, we would only recommend using one of these services to store your images if you are already a paying customer. Why pay to store your images when you don’t need to?

icloud logo
dropbox logo
microsoft onedrive logo
amazon logo

Amazon cloud storage

Amazon Prime members already paying $99 a year, can take advantage of unlimited photo storage as part of their package. This is actually not a bad deal when you are traveling since the package also includes a selection of free Kindle books and movies per month..

If you just want the unlimited photo storage it will set you back $59 a year.

Apple iCloud

If you’re a committed Apple user, Apple’s iCloud Photo service lets you store your last 1,000 photos (or 30 days worth of photos) in the cloud for free. Or you can sync your photo library between you iOS devices and Apple’s new Photos app for Mac.

Prices start at only $1 a month for 20 GB up to $20 a month for 1 TB.

Dropbox

A basic Dropbox accounts starts with 2 GB of space for free. You can earn up to 16 GB of additional space by referring your friends to Dropbox. Known for its speed and reliability, Dropbox has certainly come a long way in a short period of time.

Dropbox recently reduced their prices down to a reasonable $10 a month for 1 TB of storage, or $100 a year.

Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft’s storage solution, OneDrive, is a little more generous offering 30 GB of free storage, as long as you enable auto-upload on the mobile app. As with the other services, OneDrive is built to store all your files rather than just photos.

Upgrade your account from 30 GB to 1 TB for $7 a month.

4. For Professional Photographers

Has your photography reached a level where people would be willing to pay for your pictures? When you are ready to take it to the next level and sell your photos we suggest signing up to one (or both) of these professional services:

SmugMug

SmugMug is a service well suited to professional and semi-professional photographers since it lets you create your own photo website. Simply choose a theme, add photos and start selling. It’s as simple as that.

Every site includes a fully-integrated shopping cart. Pick the photo products you want to sell and keep 85% of the price (they take a 15% commission). Create prints and photo books, postcards, mousepads, keyrings and much more.

After a two-week trial, you’ll have to pay to use the service, starting at $60 a year for a basic plan with unlimited photo storage.

SmugMug

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500px

Don’t expect to find any family or vacation pictures on 500px. This is a community for professional photographers to show off their highly edited shots of landscapes, animals, and people displayed in a stylish grid format.

You can upload pictures from your computer or import them from Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram and more.

One of the major benefits of 500px is the community aspect. By selecting the categories you’re interested in, you will be matched with other users whose taste matches yours. Comment on other member’s photos or share your pictures to other social networks.

Like SmugMug, premium accounts come with a portfolio website and allow you to sell your pictures as wall art or stock photography.

There is a basic free tier if you upload less than 20 images a month. Unlimited uploads start at $21 for a year.

500px

5. Staying Organized

Have you ever been browsing through someone’s photo album when the pictures all start to seem the same. It can get pretty boring quickly if the photos are unedited or unorganized.

We have put together a few simple steps to make sure you are putting your best foot forward and keeping your albums looking slick.

Step 1: Initial Cull

Browse through the photos on your camera and complete an initial cull of any pictures that look visually unappealing and remove any duplicates before uploading to a “pending” album.

Step 2: Second Cull

Browse the pending album and delete any pictures that are greatly under or over exposed and select your best photos to be edited.

Step 3: Editing

You should now be down to a manageable portfolio that you can import to your editing software. Fix the exposure, color and sharpen your images before naming and tagging each image.

Step 4: Upload and Share

Upload your pictures into an album and try to create a visual flow for the viewer. Finally, share your favorites via social media (where appropriate).

6. More Options

Above we have featured our favorite storage solutions. Of course, there’s a million more options that we haven’t tried yet. Here’s a few worth checking out:

Our Recommendation

For most people, there is no single solution that will fit all your needs. We personally use each of the four free options outlined above, mostly so our pictures reach the most viewers.

Since Facebook is a social hub for over 1 billion people and offers free storage, this is a perfectly good solution for anyone with no interest in photography who simply wants to keep their holiday snaps stored centrally.

If you are a photography enthusiast, Flickr is probably the best choice for you. 1 TB of free storage is too tempting.

Disclaimer:

Be aware that by storing your photos online, you run the risk of losing them should the service shut down. Of course, this is rare and most services will at least attempt to notify their users in advance.

No matter what, keep a backup of your best photos on an external hard drive.