A photographic print is great, but there are times when you don't need to go through the effort of reproducing your photograph to share it with others. In many ways, the Internet has replaced the photographic print with the instantaneous transmission of photographs. This has opened up new opportunities for photographers to share their work in the blink of an eye, not only with friends and family, but also with people they've never met before.
If you'd like to share your photographs with people around the world, one of the easiest ways is with an online photo service or a photo community. Think of a photo service (such as snapfish.com, shutterfly.com, and others) as an online photo-processing store. Such sites allow photographers to upload photos and then have other people log into the service and order prints of the images. This works great for things like weddings and special events where someone might want their own copy of your pictures, but you don't want to have to print and send them.
A photo community (like flickr.com, buzznet.com, smugmug.com, and friendster.com), on the other hand, is focused on the sharing of photos, more for artistic appreciation than for commercial output. On photo community Web sites there are all sorts of topic-based groups (travel, food, sports, and so on). People post their photographs as if they were journal entries or submissions in a contest, and other members comment on them.
These sites offer a variety of uploading tools for transferring images from your computer to the Web sites. Many of them even allow you to email your photos to post them, or send them from a camera phone. Registering for either photo service Web sites or photo community Web sites is easy, and most provide free hosting space for your photos.
The URL of Browser
You don't need to use a photo service or photo community site to post your photographs if you're familiar with creating and hosting a web page. (If you are familiar with making your own pages, you're probably not reading these instructions on how to do so.)
All-in-one programs, many browsers, and most photo-editing packages allow for the quick creation of web pages based on templates. Often called web galleries or just galleries, the tools for creating quick galleries are usually found under Export, Share, or Automate menus on your computer, and they can create complex web pages in a few fast clicks.
You'll need to be able to FTP the pages and folders to your web-hosting provider, who will need to give you information on the programs you can use and the steps you'll need to take. It's this added complexity that makes the photo Web sites so popular.
No Postage Required
Directly emailing your pictures is one of the easiest ways to share them. You can send photos as attachments just as easily as you can send a Word document or spreadsheet. You can also use most photo packages, browsers, and many editing programs to send copies of your images by using a Share or Export option.
Remember that a photo can be quite large, much larger than most email servers can handle. A five-megapixel camera might make a file that's larger than five megabytes, and that's a lot more than your recipient will need in order to view it on a monitor. Always resize your image to something less cumbersome, such as 640x480, before sending. And be sure to save it as a JPEG (.jpg) format file. That way it will be compressed to make the file size smaller, and, as long as you stay around medium compression, it will look great on the recipient's screen.
Figure 7.9. A five-megapixel digital camera will create an image file that opens to about 11 megabytes, much more than you would want to send via email. Be sure to downsize the image and compress it into a JPEG file before emailing it. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann)
You'll also want to be sure you don't send your email to too many people for fear of having your Internet account suspended. Fifty pieces of mail, each with a five-megabyte attachment, is a surefire way to have your account questioned or terminated. That's another reason the photo-sharing sites are so popular; they shift the burden of sending the images to the Web site, instead of the photographer's email.
Figure 7.10. Downsized to 640 pixels tall, this 11-megabyte photo is now just 900 kilobytes, and after being compressed will be less than 100K, making it easy to email. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann)
There's no need to choose a single way to share your images. After a trip it's entirely acceptable for a photographer to mix all the sharing techniques: Print several of the best shots to hang on the wall or put in a scrapbook; order a book or create a CD or DVD as a souvenir for a traveling companion; turn a great shot into a holiday card; upload some photos for friends to order; and post a few others to a photo community. Mix and match as you wish. There are more tools available for sharing your digital photographs than ever before, so it's easy and fun to show them off to the world.
Figure 7.11. With today's tools it's easy to make sure that all your friends and family see the beautiful photos you've created. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann)