I am photos junkie.. Photography is one of my hobbies and collecting memories is yet another! As time was going by, it was becoming more and more difficult for me to maintain all the photographs.. It was all getting scattered!! (Some photos at my office machine, some on home desktop whereas some on laptop.. Some uploaded on one picasaweb album and few other on facebook, some on flickr where some on orkut, few on LiveSpaces and couple of them on Geni [related to family]!).. In short, maintaining 20,000+ photographs is not a simple task (I work as digital photo manager for some of my non-geek family members as well!)
I was planning to get everything centralized from quite some time and was looking for options! I considered many options including...
- Host them on the web on my own server (I have got GBs of space online [where I have my website hosted])..
- Main advantage of this was I would be able to access the photos wherever I go.. even I can create a shared folder which I can use to share photos with others..
- But main disadvantage was, this approach was lacking social features.. What if somebody wants to comment on the photo? What if somebody wants to blog about it or mark it as favorite! It was more of a cloud hosting solution than the perfect one!
- Get them all on a single machine and then create DVDs per event/year..
- Main advantage of this was freedom from downloading photos when watching! I can even hook it to Media Center/Home server, when I buy one!
- Main dis-advantage was, almost impossible to Share, Lack of Social interaction!
- Upload them on PicasaWeb (which is going to become Google Photos shortly)
- Advantage over here is, its very easy to share them with friends and family and Social interaction is also there..
- Free account provides 1 GB space for photo uploads in each account so, if I go for it, I will need almost 25+ accounts for all my photos (which is horrible!) and I am not sure if picasa allows me to upload my high-res photos and maintains it there! (generally I have been uploading 1600 pixel photos!)
- Upload them all on facebook
- Facebook has excellent social features (including adding tags and notes/annotations) on photos..
- Main problem with facebook was it does not allow me to upload high-res pictures.. it resizes them to 1024 pixels which is horrible because I can not use them for taking prints later on! (So, I have to maintain offline backup as well, which I don't want!)
From all above options, none of them were giving me what I wanted.. (none was perfect solution!)
I started checking Paid online services and found few,
From all above, I found Flickr most compelling solution having No.1 place in online photo all around the world with Yahoo network! So, I went ahead with that one.. And till now my experience has been pretty good! The service is really good housing 10,000+ photos for me (I've been able to upload only those many till now! Though, upload still going on..)
Advantages in Flickr that I found most interesting,
- Maintain high-resolution photos for later download!
- Though, you need to be Pro member for this..
- Even if you forget or cancel to renew your account, they hold on the photos for you in case if you decide to come back to pro again in future!
- This was very much needed for me.. Just in case, if I forget to renew the account, it should not delete all my photos (because I may not have backup!!)
- Social features
- I have almost 100+ contacts already on flickr.. So, I can share my stuff with friends and family very easily and effectively
- Even I have control over which photo can be viewed by which group and I can change it at any time!
- Its a must! My friends can subscribe to RSS feed for my photo stream and can get notified as and when I upload any new photos right from their RSS reader (without even visiting flickr!)
- Integration with FriendFeed
- FriendFeed has got a place in my internet social network! As and when I upload any photo on Flickr, friendfeed places that on my friendfeed profile and all my contacts can see it!
- Low Rate/Fees
- Its just 24.99$ a year! As compared to other services, its much cheaper..
- Video Uploads
- Pro members can even upload videos..
- Though this is sort of limited (90 seconds of video AND max. 150 MB in size).. but it covers half of my videos and I hope flickr improves on limit in future for Pro members..
- Desktop Upload Tool
- Flickr has got desktop upload tool which allows me to upload photos directly from desktop by dragging them to the tool and setting tags, creating sets all with just a click! (though, I prefer flash based browser upload page!!)
- Organize capability for huge collection of photos
- I would say Flickr is expert in allowing users managing their huge collection of photos!
- Pro members can create Collections (Top Entity) add sets to the collections.. I create a set for a bunch of photos from same event..
- Even their web interface for managing photos is really awesome!
- Full-text search for all photos!
- This is really awesome stuff.. Be it photo title, description, set name, collection name, comment, tag.. Flickr searches everything when you ask it to!! Its really easy to find photos once its up there!
- It can even search by Camera Model!! If you remember some photo taken from a particular camera model, you can search for all photos in your account taken from that camera!!
- Upload through EMail/Mobile!
- I love this! Sometimes upload through email comes really handy..
- Stats (Analytics)
- This is really good feature for people interested in looking at their most liked pictures.. Mostly useful for photographers!
- Geo-Tag the photos!
- This is getting more and more important..
- I have read many reports that in some times, we all will have cameras with GPS capability such that resultant photograph will contain the exact location where it was taken! Pretty awesome, isnt it?
Though, nothing is perfect in this world! Here are few things I think flickr needs to add.. (from what I have found as a user!)
- Integrate with services like PicSquare and allow international people to get print of their digital photos
- Right now, they have integration with few companies (like Moo) but only US people can take benefit of it!
- Increase the video upload limit!
- Actually 90 seconds is very less for any videos that one may have got! I am fine with 150 MB limit but duration should atleast be 5 minutes! (afterall, what can you do in 1.5 minute!!)
- Enable users to import photos (maintaining Tags and Album name [set name], comments) from external services like Picasa, Facebook..
- For a new Pro member entering into Flickr world, he may have photos hosted at other places which he should be able to import with just few clicks!!
- I think flickr can do this easily today because almost all services has enabled API access to photos! (be it through RSS/ATOM or APIs)
- Enable international Users to order DVD of their selected full resolution pictures at reasonable cost!
- Allow users to associate set of photos with an Event and present user a timeline view of his photos!
- Mostly photos represent an event of occasion.. I love Geni's photo album because it enables users to create Events, map it to date (or range of date) and add photos to that timeline.. Flickr should allow Pro users to do that.. That way it will be easy to browse the photos..
- Though, Flickr already has Archive feature which allows user to see when was photo actually taken and when was it uploaded to flickr.. but They are just bunch of dates, no names/description associated with it!
- Enable users to Annotate contacts on the photos!
- I love Facebook's friend annotation feature where you can draw a rectangle and mark it with a friend name!! (Even Geni has that feature!)
- Duplicate Removal
- This is very much needed feature of Flickr! Many a times it may happen that user uploads same picture twice.. At least Flickr should suggest user (based on date-time/name/title of picture that it may be duplicate and allow user to remove it..
- Better Friend/Contacts Discovery!
- There are lots of social networks around.. Right now, flickr allows you to import contacts from GMail/Live/Yahoo addressbook, but that should not be it, Flickr should allow user to find for friends from various social networks like Friendfeed, Facebook, Geni (at least all that has API access enabled)
- Create Mosaic for each Set and allow user to automatically blog about newly created set..
- This would be awesome! Just imagine that I created a new set, added 50 pictures to it and flickr randomly chooses 9/12 photos from that set creates a mosaic and blog it right away!
- Create Fluid view for photostream page..
- Right now, flickr shows page content for 1024x768 resolution and for wide screen monitors (like the one I have, which is 19", I see photos in the middle, a lot of space wasted on both sides).. Flickr should use screen asset properly and show photos using all space available in photostream view.. that will decrease scrollbar size or may be accommodate more photos on a page which means less scrolling..
- Actually, I like PicLens very much while visualizing flickr photos! I hope flickr gives something like that for browsing the photos! (Something like Media Center or PicLens where I can maintain context while going from collection to set and set to photograph!)
From what I have found, Flickr is really a very deep layered service! There is a lot to learn about it for every flickr user!! Now, I know why Yahoo terminated Yahoo! photo gallery and made all users to move to flickr!! Great service!