I basically stopped processing all the digital photos we shot last August when my work finally caught up with me. That caused an uproar among some friends and family (mostly from Grace). So I started looking at some alternatives on digital photo management for online sharing.
I looked at Google’s Picasa (which is basically a lame duck now that Google’s sitting on top of it), Yahoo’s latest prized acquisition, Flickr, Sony’s ImageStation and hosting my own using Gallery 2. There are also a few other online photo sharing services I considered, but none worth my time to look deep.
Pros: Probably won’t disappear after a couple of years; decent interface for photo management; relatively fast site; iPhoto plugin readily available and free.
Cons: Though the online photo management interface is not bad, it still lacks the “polish” that Flickr has; Google doesn’t seem to be doing much with it lately; limited API for people who want to tinker with its photo sharing API; no cheap photo prints via its service.
Pros: Very nice and actively used API for tinkerers like me. In fact, there’s a wrapper to its API in virtually all major modern languages — PHP, Java, Perl, Python… etc; offers incredible control on manipulating its photo sharing services via the API; active developer community; incredible and polished user interface; easy to use; excellent iPhoto plugins (more about this later); great photo management capabilities; excellent WordPress plugin for publishing Flickr photos.
Cons: Photo printing service is a rip off for what they charge.
Pros: Offers cheapest photo processing per print by far. Otherwise, technically, none significant.
Cons: No developer APIs; horrible user interface (try making a calendar with it… yikes!)
Pros: Control over almost every aspect of the photo sharing since it’d be hosted on my own server; some decent iPhoto plugins.
Cons: The site’s screwed if the server is fried or there’s too much traffic; obviously no connection to any kind of photo printing service; dependent of me uploading the photos.
So, clearly, Flickr is the easy winner of the bunch. Now more about how I am using Flickr services. I have a streamlined operation where everything from picking photos, writing captions to publishing just takes a few minutes. The key here is a nice little iPhoto plugin called FlickrExport for iPhoto (there’s a more powerful version for Aperture for you Pro users out there). Basically all I do is a simple 3 step process in publishing the photos from downloading from the camera all the way to Flickr.
1. Apple-click all the images I want to upload to Flickr in iPhoto. When done, go to “File” and choose “Export”. Select the FlickrExport tab.
2. Select all the thumbnails, set the maximum size to upload (dimension wise). Assign tags; write captions.
3. Upload. Done.
Once the images are up there at Flickr, I don’t have to worry about them anymore. But the nice added bonus is the APIs for when I feel like building my own gallery using images that are already being hosted at Flickr. All my application has to do it to pull those images and arrange them in the way I choose to in my own designs. Very NICE!
Most importantly, for me to easily publish those photos on my own blog, there’s a nice WordPress plugin called Flickr Photo Album that allows me to browse through images in my Flickr account from within WordPress and choose which images I want to include in my entries. No more manually pre-processing images before I blog! Sweet!