Person takes picture on digital camera (Photo: Getty Images)
Sharing photographs with friends, families, and even strangers at the local pub is an activity that's been loved by people for more than a century. Thanks to this digital age in which we live, this no longer involves whipping out your wallet and whipping out a half dozen photos of your wife and kids (that's what smartphones are now for).
Now, what if the people with whom you want to share said photographs aren't in the same room as you? Sure, you could attach them to an email or upload them to Facebook for everybody to see, but the former is a pain for more than a couple of images and the latter requires the person to not only have a Facebook account but also be your friend on the site - neither all that convenient in the long run. That's where the growing online photo sharing service market kicks in. While there are a number of such services available - most for free - there are at least five worth making note of.
Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com) is a free service that provides its users with a number of options. Not only can folks upload and share via email or social media their digital photographs, but they can also create their own private themed and un-themed galleries or send them to the printing press and order professionally done hard copies. These physical versions of your digital photographs aren't limited to just 5x7s, however, as they can be used to create custom greeting cards, photo books, and even custom iPad cases.
Kicksend (www.kicksend.com) is a fairly new service, having been around for only two or so years. In that time, however, they've come a long way. The service features not only a browser-based client and a rather fleshed-out mobile app, but also tips on how to take quality amateur digital photos that look anything but. What's more, it's easy to use ("...your mom and your grandma will actually use it." is actually stated on the Kicksend.com home page. And if that wasn't enough, you can order physical prints of your digital photos right from the app and have them ready to pick up almost immediately from your local 1-hour photo desk such as those found at Walgreens and Target.
Flikr (www.flikr.com) advertises themselves as being bigger than its competition, and they may be right. The free Yahoo-owned service provides users with a whopping one terrabyte of storage space. To help keep things straight, Flikr offers organization tools to its users so they don't have to pull their hair out when looking for a certain photo or collection of photos. Furthermore, it puts each uploaded photo onto a timeline (something familiar to Facebook users) so people can see them in the order posted. Of course, they can also be shared with individuals via email in both individual image and slideshow forms.
Picasa (picasa.google.com) is Google's free photo sharing service. It features Google+ social networking integration to make it easy to share amongst your Google account holding friends, but individual and collections of images can be shared with others quite easily. What's more is that the service allows for some pretty cool photo manipulation with a bunch of effects. Unlike the other services listed, however, Picasa requires a client download.
Imgur (www.imgur.com) could probably be considered photo and image sharing for the cool kids. Tied in with the mega-aggregate site Reddit, it allows for photos to be uploaded with ease via your web browser or mobile phone both with and without having to create a free account. Once an image is uploaded, it can be titled, edited, and put into public/private galleries. It's handy and simple to use, but take care with what you upload to the site. Once a photo gets added, you might as well consider it public domain from that point on.