Thursday, October 30, 2008
Buyer's Guide 2009: Online Sharing & Services
A few stars in the universe of web-based options for photographers
One of the all-time most popular photo community sites, Flickr is the place where members go to upload, edit, geotag, share and print their images. They have gone to considerable lengths to keep things easy and organized at the same time. They even apply their own terminology: Images are organized into sets and sets into collections. Sharing is within privacy-controlled groups and includes a discussion board to facilitate conversations. Privacy level, which determines who can view images, as well as content flags, are simple and easy to control. Flickr is free, but members can upgrade to a Flickr Pro account for just $25 a year and enjoy unlimited uploads, storage, sets and collections, as well as ad-free browsing and the most recent addition, video file sharing.
Another iPhone-friendly online service, Phanfare uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to provide reliable storage for their customers' videos and photos at multiple secure locations across the United States. Phanfare members can store up to 1 GB of photos and videos for free. Paid subscriptions are reasonable, too—unlimited storage is available at $54.95 per year. To top it off, the Phanfare iPhone camera application allows users to take pictures on an iPhone and upload them in the background to their Phanfare account. Subscribers can create albums, add captions to images, assign access rights and share as they choose.
Jungle Disk is a software application that harnesses the vast storage capacity of Amazon S3 and allows you to browse your images and data simply by clicking an icon on your desktop—just as though everything was on a local drive. Moving data becomes a matter of drag and drop. You even can schedule automatic backups. Cost is 15¢ per gigabyte per month, and you only pay for what you use (you don't have to rent storage space in preset amounts). Best of all, your data is fully encrypted at all times and there are no minimum or maximum size restrictions. For an additional $1 per month, Jungle Disk Plus provides extra features, including web-based access to your data, block-level file updates (which allow you to upload only the changed portions of large files instead of the entire file) and the ability to safely resume uploads in the event of an untimely midstream disconnect.
Custom Printing & Gifts
Mpix is a one-stop shop for just about every photo gift you can imagine, from framed and matted custom prints to unique novelties like trading cards and puzzles. Mpix is a division of Miller Labs-the largest professional photo lab in the country. They have been serving professional photographers for decades (Miller was founded in 1939) and have the experience to deliver the highest-quality prints at reasonable prices and the shortest turnaround times, usually 24 hours. They continually expand their assortment of services, which now includes beautifully bound photo books, gallery wraps and standouts (prints mounted on 1.5-inch Gatorfoam board). Film shooters take heart: Mpix will develop and scan your 35mm film at 1228x1818 for less than $6 for a 36-exposure roll and notify you by e-mail so you can order the prints you choose. They have recently redesigned the entire site, making it easier and faster to use, including the creation of live previews of custom framing and matting jobs.
Simple Photo is photo sharing with an added twist-a revenue stream! Members join, build a unique storefront and upload their work all for free. Simple Photo earns a small commission on every piece you sell. Until your sales volume exceeds $100 a month, they collect a modest $10 monthly maintenance fee. Through the Simple Photo Marketplace they offer standard and novelty printing, photo books and other goods and services. Photographer entrepreneurs retain full control of the financial aspects through any of several e-commerce options, including PayPal and Authorize.net. There's even a 30-day free trial plan, so it's truly a no-risk path toward selling your photography.
Bay Photo has been providing photographers with a full range of services for more than 30 years. They proudly use the most modern, sophisticated equipment available. Images can be uploaded to their FTP site or transmitted via ROES (Remote Order Entry Software), which allows photographers to manipulate images in several ways, including cropping, rotating, colorizing and adding borders. Users can select from hundreds of print sizes and templates, greeting cards, calendar pages, collages and many other formats. Bay Photo also offers other related finishing services, including mounting, protective coating, developing and scanning, and retouching.
Page 2 of 2