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Sharing Photos on the Web
You don't have to know HTML!

Susan Ives, former president of Alamo PC, took more than 350 digital photos in France and is gearing up her new Nikon CoolPix 990 for an upcoming expedition to Ireland.

Many of the people who chat with me about creating a web site donít really need or want one. What they want is to be able to stash photos on the web to share with friends and family. Alamo PCís new president, Larry Grosskopf, needed a place to put the photos from his 30th high school reunion. Alamode editor Clarke Bird wanted to share pictures from a recent trip to Canada. Maybe you have baby or graduation photos, a new house, or even stuff you want to sell on e-Bay that would move faster if folks could see a good picture of it. 

Good news: you can do all of this without learning HTML, without spending a penny on web editing software and without having one puny KB of your own server space.

A hot trend on the Internet is free picture sharing web sites. In exchange for making you and your visitors look at web-based advertising, and by selling optional goods and services online, these sites help you set up publicly accessible photo albums. 

There are dozens of these sites. I didnít try them all, but let me share my experience with one of them ó Picture Trail.

Start by visiting my photo albums  I made two albums, one of my trip to France and another of my brotherís new sunroom. Although each of these albums only has five photos, I could have made them larger.

First, I registered. They wanted my e-mail address and plan on sending me mail. I donít know what it will be but I have a fast delete finger if it gets irritating. I also picked a user name, and they quickly sent me an e-mail with instructions on how to select my password.  After registration, I started creating my albums. The initial registration includes 20 MB of space and up to four albums. For trading a little more information about myself, I got 50MB of space and an unlimited number of albums. There was absolutely no cost involved. 

The step-by-step instructions are straightforward. First, I created a new album. I could name it and select an album cover and background texture.  Each photo album can be password protected but doesnít have to be.  Next, I uploaded photos from my hard drive. This can be done via e-mail, but I elected to use their online interface and browsed my hard drive, selecting the photos I wished to upload. I uploaded them, I could rearrange the order in which they appeared. That done, I personalized the photos.

I could rotate each photo, give it a caption, frame it (I sampled several different frames) and protect it from being hijacked from people who right-click on it. You can make a photo or a title ďclickableĒ to another web site ó if you click on the gallery photo of John on the Seine bridge, you will be taken to my own web site of French photos. 

Finally, I laid out the main page with some introductory text and a big photo. Thatís it. I can go back at a later date and add or delete photos, edit the captions, or change any of the options. And I did all of this without having to know a darn thing about web page design.

There are dozens of these sites. A few others to check out are:

I recommend reading over the terms and conditions of several services, as they vary. 
  • Make sure you retain the rights to your own photos. 
  • Do they require that you install special software? 
  • How easy is it to direct friends to your albums? 
  • What do they do with the personal information they collect about you? 
  • Do visitors to your site have to register or surrender any personal information? 
  • How much control do you have over the look and feel of your album? 
  • How long will they keep your photos up on their site? 
  • How much space do you get? 
  • How friendly is the interface? 
  • Are there restrictions about what you can post?
Even though I have 200 MB of my own server space and am perfectly capable of designing my own web site, this is an attractive way for me to share personal snapshots. It was fast, easy and doesnít eat up my own space. 

You do have to put your own photos into a digital format ó either by scanning them, using a digital camera or having your film processed onto a disk. With Picture Trail, the photos had to be in a GIF, JPG, TIF, BMP or PNG format. And it doesnít have to be a photo ó some people post digital art!

If you donít mind sacrificing a little personal information, this is a fast and easy solution for photo sharing. Check it out ó and while youíre visiting my site, be sure to sign the guestbook.

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Alamo PC Organization, Inc.
San Antonio, TX USA