Pictures are priceless! And with families and friends usually spread far apart in terms of geography, pictures are the way to keep up with the latest news. With digital photography, you can see the new baby in the family, check out the latest fencing project that Uncle Jeff finished and see where Grandma is spending her summer vacation.
It used to be that when you took a picture, you wouldn't develop any pictures until the roll of film was full. Then, the development process meant visiting a local photo shop, waiting a week for development and getting prints back. Sharing these prints usually involved the US Mail or a personal visit. The options today are so much more user-friendly and you can pick the one that fits you and your sharing needs best!
The key to understanding options is to understand that there are very few rules anymore. You can take just one picture before "developing", you can crop and remove redeye yourself or you can merge pictures together. But before getting into advanced options, let's review some of the basic options for sharing your precious photographs.
You can still hand-deliver those photos today, but the options for doing so have increased ten-fold. You can now print digital pictures from your home computer whenever it's convenient for you. Some of the other options include taking your camera memory (check the user's manual) into a local super center or pharmacy chain. These stores usually have photo kiosks where you can insert your memory, select your print option and place your order. You can usually get calendars, postcards, shirts or cups with your pictures on them if you'd like.
Or you can create a collage of pictures and load to a CD. The software that came with your camera should have instructions on how to copy the pictures from your camera to your PC. Then follow the instructions with your picture software to create your collage and copy to disk. This option is especially helpful when you want to share the pictures with a larger group of people, such as an entire Pee Wee football team or all of the cousins who show up at the family reunion.
Upload and share
There are so many photo sharing sites available that it's oftentimes hard to choose among the options. However, for those who are somewhat new to digital photography, these are a few of the free sites that make it easy on the new user, but still provide a bevy of choices and options:
Shutterfly. This site has earned rave consumer reviews. It has free unlimited storage of pictures and when sharing the pictures, also allows for users to add comments! What's great with this site is that it allows you to create keepsake photo books and all types of printing options including picture borders, cards or photo gifts. The biggest drawback is that the only pickup option when choosing a hard copy print is at a local Target store. Although Target stores are popping up all over, there are still many places in the US that don't have a Target for miles! However, Shutterfly does provide mailing options.
Flickr. Flickr is another great online photo management and sharing application. Show off your favorite photos to the world, securely. Easily upload, organize, join groups, and discuss photos from all over the world. Also create books, prints, cards, calendars, and more from your pictures.
Picasa. Most users rate this site very high as it's easy to use and, after loading your pictures onto your PC, it sometimes only takes one click to upload to the web. It's easy to organize pictures into photo albums, share with as many or as few people as you wish and do some basic photo edits. The only drawback is that you have to download the proprietary software, so if you are someone who doesn't like to download software from the web, this option may not be for you.
Kodak Gallery. Of course, what option for sharing photos would be complete without Kodak being involved somehow? Kodak provides some great options that go beyond just sharing the photos online. You can order prints, edit photos, share photos and organize in albums. Some of the user options at Kodak Gallery do involve a subscription and of course, hard copy prints cost money. The option where the new shutterbug can create their own webpage featuring their own pictures is really neat and easy to use. One drawback to this service is that for anyone to view your pictures, they must also have a login to the site. So sharing is not just as easy as just sending a link.
Snapmor. This site is a little different from the rest. It allows you to create digital slideshows from your photos. Just upload your pictures, and they weave them together with music and dynamic transition effects into a really interesting way of sharing photos. Your photo slideshow "movies" will be put onto a DVD, which makes it really easy and convenient to enjoy, since you can just watch it on your TV. It's truly amazing what an effect adding music to your photos has. It must be tried to be appreciated.
Print out for pickup
Just about anyplace nowadays that still develops rolls of film will also have an option for printing your digital photos. Other options for printing out pictures include publishing stores and pharmacy chains. Check out their online store and look for the option that links you to their photo center.
This is a great option when someone you love doesn't have a computer or really just likes having the picture in her own hand. You can upload your pictures and instead of picking your local store for pickup, choose the store closest to your loved one. This is more like the old-time process of getting your pictures developed and mailing them out, but eliminates several inconvenient steps.
Just try it out
The greatest aspect about digital photography is that no one has to be a professional to take or share great pictures! Just keep your camera on and snap pictures until your memory chip is full. If a picture is truly bad, just delete it and take some more until you get the one you want. If a picture is close enough to being good, but is off-center or has a strange background, just perform some edits to change the background or center the faces. Then get ready to share with all your loved ones.
For friends and loved ones who are computer savvy, impress them with your ability to create beautiful photo albums. Enter captions and share with all of them, no matter how far away they live. For family at Christmas, create personalized albums or calendars as a fancy stocking stuffer. And for those who love to frame pictures or create scrapbooks, order some prints for them and let them be surprised when the prints show up at their front door! Check out your options and find the one that's right for you!
Jason Kay recommends you consider making extra money by selling your photos on Shutterpoint, which provides an e-commerce store-front for selling photos and handling all advertising and purchase transactions.
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