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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sharing your Photos - Using Sharing Sites and Email

By: Ziv Haparnas


The photos we take are all about experiences – photos from our last trip, photos of friends and family and of places we visited. We also want to share those photos with our family and close friends and by that to share our experiences. In this article we will go over a few options for doing just that.


There are a few methods for sharing photos. Before the digital era sharing was done by printing photos and arranging them in photo albums. Then when family or friends gather they could go over those albums viewing each photo and talking about their experiences. Another way to share photos with people that were physically far away was via mail. Printed photos were put in an envelope and mailed.


The digital era made sharing photos and experiences much easier and almost instant. For example with digital photography you can share a photo at the instance it was taken with anyone in the world.


There are a few ways to sharing digital photos:


Sharing by email: Photos are computer files and like any other file they can be sent as an email attachment to any number of email recipients. To share a photo over email simply create a new email, enter the email addresses of the people you want to share the photo with, write a small description in the email body and then attach the photo files.

There are a few things to consider when sharing photos by email. Most ISPs and free email services limit the size of the attachments that can be sent. Many limit those to just a few megabytes. Some providers also limit the size of the email mailbox and thus sending a large number of big photo files can clog the recipient's mailbox.

It is not considered ‘ok' to email large attachments unless you personally know the recipient and he or she expects to receive such an email. It is highly recommended that you resize the photos before sending them by email. In most cases the recipient will only use the files to view the photo on the computer screen. For that purpose a photo resolution of 640X480 or 800X600 is more than enough and the reduced resolution files will be much smaller. If the recipient needs to print the photo then a high resolution version should be emailed.


Sharing using online sharing services: There are many online services that offer photo sharing for free. Using the service you can either share photos with a private group of people or share photos with the public. Sites such as www.flickr.com or www.shutterfly.com are very popular sharing sites. In addition to photo sharing they offer many other services such as photo printing. Using these services is simple: create an account with one of the services and start uploading your photos. When you're done simply send the site's link to whoever you want to share your photos with.

Sharing photos this way is very easy and efficient. You only need to upload the photos once and whoever you share the photos with can at their own time login to the site and view the albums. Most sites will resize the photo and reduce their resolution for faster viewing. However they will not allow the viewers to download the original full resolution file. In most cases this is not a problem as users can order prints directly from the sharing site. If they do need the original high resolution file you can always separately send it to them by email.


Sharing by FTP or other file transfer utilities: In this method the photos are just uploaded to an FTP server. The people you want to share the photos with will login to the FTP server and download the photos. This can also be done using online storage services that allow users to upload any file and then other users to download them. Similar to photo sharing services these services allow the sharing of files. They do not limit the users in downloading the full resolution photo files but they also lack the advantages of easily browsing through photo albums and quickly previewing low resolution version of the photos. Usually FTP servers are used by professionals or companies that need to share a large amount of data between them. Also professional printing services will sometime host an FPT server and have users upload full resolution photo files to this server for printing.


Sharing by burning CD/DVDs: This method is similar to the old fashion method of mailing printed photos. Instead of printing paper prints and mailing them you burn all the images for sharing on a CD (or DVD if more space is needed) and mail the CD/DVD to the people you want to share it with. This method is slow and used usually only when the amount of photos to share is very big and transferring so much data online is a hassle. An example for using this method is sending a large number of high resolution photos for a printing service


In conclusion there are many ways to share photos. For most users who simply want to share photos for viewing on the computer screen and maybe print a few photos using the online photo sharing and printing services is the best. These free services provide all the functionality most users need. Occasionally when you need to share a high resolution photo for printing you can easily send it by email.

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