Have you found the perfect place to store your photos? I have hunted around to find the best site to upload my images and share them. After researching, what I concluded was the best for me took me completely by surprise.
Finding the perfect place to store my photos started with a rhetorical question: what good is taking pictures if no one can see them? Wherever I keep them, I also want to be able to share them. Over the years, I have also changed my mind. I accept that there is no perfect free solution; I need to pay for the level of service I want. There is always an expense, although it is not always financially direct. Sometimes that cost involves sharing a person’s photo with advertising, giving away personal data, or displaying the image in an unwelcome manner.
Speaking of which, Instagram is completely inappropriate. Well, like Facebook, it’s a good marketing tool for my business and it can show my picture to many people if I pay for it. But I’ve never been a fan of the “Like” button, and I’m not actively looking for hundreds or thousands of followers. Also, there are some areas where it fails with photographers.
Firstly, if you want your photos to be viewed organically, i.e. free of charge, you have to keep posting them regularly. That’s fine if you create images of dysentery with photography. But try to achieve quality over quantity in your photography, and that approach won’t work. Instagram wants me to post X times a week for my posts to be seen by everyone. X equals anything from one to fourteen, depending on the advice of the person you read to. Then you must add the appropriate hashtags, not too much or too little.
Moreover, images on Instagram are very small. Most photos have details that we want our audience to see. They preview with square aspect ratio. I rarely crop to those sizes, and I don’t want it to randomly reshape the images I’ve carefully composed.
Instagram has also changed. It is no longer an image-sharing website but a video server that competes directly with TikTok. Like YouTube, they are trying to grab the short video market. Instagram is now filled with low-quality, poorly-acted works of people trying unsuccessfully to be comedians or musicians, who show their generosity by giving money or iPads and crediting them. the misfortunes of others. Rebels have become the opium of the masses, with people wasting their precious time watching them instead of living their own short lives.
In addition to Instagram, Meta owns Facebook, another time-wasting repository. Most of us have discovered that photos uploaded to Facebook are poorly compressed. There is a lot of different advice on the internet about aspect ratio and whether to compress images before uploading. It seems confusing, so I recommend you check out this blog from Hootsuite. It is a highly rated social media platform for businesses with accurate, up-to-date details on ever-changing image sizes and posting frequency.
With both Facebook and Instagram, photo metadata is removed. Therefore, it is possible for an image to be stolen and then shared multiple times. Even people who don’t intend to plagiarize can use it because they can’t identify the original photographer. That’s not great. The same applies to Twitter and some other social networking sites. Another problem with Facebook is that if you post an image from another hosting site, Facebook will cut the preview. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Meta to dictate the aspect ratio of my images.
LinkedIn, the social media platform for businesses, works similarly to Instagram, keeping the image small. Twitter has allowed a larger version of the photo to be displayed on my computer screen, but not the full screen size. Although Twitter has posted previews from other hosting sites, LinkedIn is sometimes unable to preview images hosted elsewhere.
So, if we want to share our photo with others, what can we do with it? There are alternatives; a lot of them. But each has its problems. The biggest issue that applies to all of this is audience size. Through those major social networking sites, we are able to reach a large audience. These household name sites have many users.
Therefore, if you pay to promote your posts, you have unlimited reach. Smaller sites may have fewer members and may be dominated by other photographers and artists. That may not be the person you want to reach.
However, those small sites will grow if they are accepted by users. There’s a lot of talk right now about Vero. Its membership was boosted in 2018 in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its use of Facebook data to undermine the democratic process. (While this isn’t big news, those kinds of practices continue, and Cambridge Analytica operates, in fact, under different names.)
Unlike Facebook, which uses advertising and controls data, Vero is funded by affiliate fees obtained from sales made through its website. Some are concerned that Vero is likely to start selling user data as well. Furthermore, there are some worries about its links to Russia, although the site’s founder, billionaire Ayman Hariri, says this is xenophobic. Illya Ovchar recently wrote an interesting analysis Vero’s is well worth reading.
The truth is, whoever you use to host your images, is likely going to have some controversy and debate about the owner of the service. For example, Visual China Group owns 500px. It is said to have been fined by the Tianjin Cyberspace Administration for failing to detect illegal user-submitted content.
As an Amazon Prime member, you automatically get unlimited photos with Amazon Photos, although video storage is limited. It also has another drawback: images are not organized into folders. Not a big deal if you upload and catalog them, such as Lightroom and a plugin. But you will end up with a bunch of unsorted photos. Sadly, when I try to post a photo hosted by Amazon Photos on Facebook, the photo fails and my viewers get a blank white box. Amazon Photos does not allow raw files to be saved, TIFF, JPEG and PNG, but not PSD files.
Another site that I discovered is Fotki. Its premium service of $36.96 per year gives a miserable 300 GB. 4 TB will cost you more than $74 per year. It is relatively expensive compared to some web hosting. Also, the layout of the website seems disorganized and poorly designed.
Of course, you can host photos on your own website. That can be free through sites like WordPress. Fees apply depending on functionality and capacity required. It is possible to easily build a simple website with low functionality by yourself.
So I went back to one of the first web hosting I used.
Flickr currently owned by SmugMug, a photo sharing website geared towards professional photographers. Flickr was once extremely popular. However, its popularity has dwindled over the years. That’s unfortunate because it’s a great platform for sharing images, especially since it allows control over whether or not third parties can download the images. To go beyond free uploading 1,000 photos to unlimited uploads, one has to purchase a paid subscription, which also allows ad-free browsing and unlimited private images. Flickr is $66.48 per year (with a two-year contract), a much better value than Fotki.
You can place links to images hosted on Flickr on other social media and choose how much its metadata is shared there. However, Facebook seems to restrict viewing of posts with hyperlinks, expecting users to pay for them. Also, Flickr doesn’t allow raw files to be stored.
So I didn’t find what I was looking for. There is no winner. Perhaps if you are a software developer looking to create the next big thing on the internet, there is a place to start. I need a shared hosting and social sharing platform for creators. It must never abuse our personal data, accept raw files and save costs. It has to appeal to a wide audience, so people will want to participate. Plus, it can’t be filled with mindless reels or have a “Like” button.
Do you have any suggestions on what I should use? It would be great to discuss them in the comments.