Monday, July 21, 2008

Family Photo Sharing

Most of my extended family do not live near us and I would like a way to keep them more updated with what we are doing. I envisage one aspect of the solution will be sharing our photos with them more frequently than when we visit one another. With that in mind I started to consider what I need from a photo sharing site.

Given that the primary motiviator is sharing, an over-arching goal is convenience for family members. More specifically:

  • They shouldn't have to sign up to the site if they don't want to. I would prefer to give them a url and possibly a password as a starting point. This way they only need to deal with a small part of the complexity of the overall site to achieve the main benefit. As an aside, I consider facebook an example of what not to do in this regard.

  • Can view all photo details, such as date, tags/keywords, description, geographical location, camera details

  • Can browse by date, album, tags/keywords and a map.

    I am using the term album to refer to an arbitary grouping of photos that I specify, e.g. for a holiday, birthday party, etc. Ideally the album would also have a description of its own.

  • Original photo is downloadable

  • Can make comments on photos

  • Flexibility to receive notifications of new photos by a mechanism they understand (e.g. RSS, email), if they wish.

From my perspective:
  • Convenience. The easier it is to upload photos and describe them, the more likely I will actually do it.

  • Security. I wish to restrict my photos to people I choose and then everthing is read-only for them, except for making comments.

  • Photo metadata. Tags/keywords, geotagging and a textual description that supports basic HTML such as hyperlinks.

  • Retain ownership of all my content

  • Some sort of group/community feature might be useful. For example if we are on holiday with other family members (that choose to use the same photo site) then being able to group our photos together for that time might be handy.

  • Export/backup. A tool or API that enables photos and metatdata to be exported for backup.

In building my shortlist of sites to try I stumbled upon 45 Photo Sharing Sites.

I discarded photobucket due to its limits and sharing in picasa web albums looked confusing. I am trying out flickr and smugmug.

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