After Father’s Day I wanted to share a bunch of photos with my family and also allow other people to contribute to the album – a seemingly simple request. I was astounded how hard it was to find a good solution. Is this 2014? Doesn’t ever device short of a microwave oven have a camera in it which then gets shared on 5 types of social media?
There are many, many, sites and apps that allow you to collect and display your own photos in beautiful galleries for friends, family, or business prospects. Very few of these have even a rudimentary ability to let others contribute to these galleries. This is a huge gap. A few sites, such as Photorocket, have tried this angle and bitten the dust along the way. Here’s my quick rundown on the current solutions landscape and where I ended up. Let’s start simple and build from there.
Entourage Box is a very interesting service that let’s you share any of your cloud drives with others using only a private link. That’s pretty cool, and can be used for many other file types than photos. However, there is no photo album capability unless you’re connecting to something that has that natively, like Dropbox.
Then there’s always Google+. Who doesn’t have a Google account somewhere? Simply create an event and share your photos to the stream. Others can contribute and set their own privacy on their photos.
Media Fire is another terrific resource for sharing all sorts of content – photos, videos, songs, and documents all fit in the mix. It has great capacity and a nice set of apps for mobile access. What about photos? I find it solid. However, when I’ve shared galleries with smart but less technical friends, they’ve had issues downloading and adding photos. The user interface is somehow more challenging for non-technical folks. Don’t share albums with Grandma on Media Fire.
Yogile is a really interesting, lightweight photo sharing platform. You can upload and keep albums private, or make them public. But the best part is this – you can start an album and let others contribute to it through email or direct upload via a dedicated, customizable URL – and they don’t need to create an account. The email option is a big help for people with mobile devices.
Shutterfly, an old standby, has remained a leader among the other photo collecting and publishing sites. They have created sharing templates and sites specifically for events like wedding, birthdays, etc. The templates are quite attractive and offer a gateway to all the other Shutterfly services, like printing. The only letdown is that you end up embedding a standard Shutterfly gallery into these sharing sites – which is a pretty average viewing experience. It’s still a solid option.
Adobe is the king of image editing programs and it’s only natural they would have a strong offering. Adobe Revel “is where your entire family can keep all your family photos and videos. When you invite family members to join a Group Library, they’re able to see your photos and videos and they’re also able to add their own photos and videos.” That’s perfect. Adobe offers a portfolio of apps across the major platforms to make this an easy mobile experience. The galleries look attractive and flexible. It’s $60 a year and seems to have some limits as far as others contributing without an account so I didn’t go further. It looks like one of the best options.
Drumroll. What did I select for the Father’s Day project? SmugMug. Until I researched this, I thought of SmugMug as a specialty photo printer, which they are and which they’re great at. For sharing and collaboration it features stunning and flexible templates right out of the box. There are endless customization options. The galleries display very well in mobile devices. There is a plugin for Adobe Lightroom which makes creating and updating galleries a breeze. The basic subscription is $40 a year and seems well worth it. Here’s my code if you want to get an extra 20% off – https://secure.smugmug.com/signup?Coupon=J7adtlQlBYi4g.by