Let's face it: digital photographs can take up a lot of hard-drive space. In light of this fact, many people are choosing to store their photos online. There are several ways to store pictures on the Web, the most popular being online photo storage services. These services have many benefits. They offer a safe place for photos in the event that your computer crashes, and they free up valuable hard-drive space. With online photo storage services you also have the ability to share your albums with others—for example, you can invite students and parents to view class trip photos online.
Photo Blog sites let users post personal shots, such as this one from San Francisco photographer Thomas Hawke, and invite viewers to comment or add their own photos.
Typically, photo storage services are in the business of printing your photos. Online image storage is a no-cost extra service. You begin by uploading your photos to the service's Web site, and you can then organize them into albums and order prints if you wish. Some services offer you the ability to print your selected photos in a variety of creative ways—in book format, for instance, or on calendars. Two services that offer free storage and online albums are Sony's ImageStation (www.imagestation.com) and Snapfish (www.snapfish.com).
A couple of caveats: It helps to have a fast Internet connection to speed the upload process, and you'll also want to be careful not to delete photos from your camera or computer until you've made sure they're safely stored online.
Online File Storage
Another solution is a generic online file storage site. Sites like Yahoo Briefcase (http://briefcase.yahoo.com) give users 25 MB to store files. Users can upload their digital photographs to folders they create on the service. Other file storage sites include Xdrive (www.xdrive.com) and Streamload (www.streamload.com). Note that some storage sites charge a fee. Although blogs are usually text-based, many services will host photo blogs, too, such as Buzznet (www.buzznet.com) and Flickr (www.flickr.com). You can easily post photos of a class trip or performance and give the Web address to parents.
In Your Online E-mail
Several e-mail services offer free, extensive online mailboxes. Google's Gmail, for example, gives users more than 2 GB of storage; Yahoo! Mail offers 1 GB. (At press time, Gmail is still being tested, so some specs may change.) Such large storage capacities make it possible for you to store digital photos by attaching them to e-mails and sending them to yourself. Be aware that online e-mail services usually limit attachment sizes, so you may need to send multiple e-mails. Yahoo also offers Yahoo! PhotoMail, a service that links messages with online photos you store in its Yahoo! Photo service. A nice feature is that you can insert thumbnail images into the body of an e-mail.
Jeffrey Branzburg is a contributing editor and regular columnist for Technology & Learning.