I’m big on practicality, and there is so much social media and other stuff that still seems pretty silly to say the least. So I thought I’d share some practical uses I’ve found for a couple of Photo sharing websites.The big three are Picasa (by Google), Flickr (by Yahoo) and Smug Mug (not as large or well known as the other 2). Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot more photo sharing sites than these 3, but for now we’ll just talk about these.

Example one, distribution of a lot of photos to a big audience:  A good couple of years ago, when I had a kid in the Fairmont band program I ended up taking a lot of pictures for the marching Band. Of course everybody either wants to see the picture or wants a copy (or a copy of the electronic file) of their son or daughter in Band camp practice or in a competition (let’s also assume that your not a professional photographer wanting to sell these images). With a good DSLR (Digital Camera) you can shoot hundreds, even thousands of photos, and I was not about to print out all these photos and try to distribute them. In the past, the lady who did a lot of the photos would get prints of all of her photos and spread them all over a table for the taking at the end of year banquet. In the old days that worked, but it was not very efficient by today’s standards.

So we signed up for a free Picasa Web Albums site and start uploading the pictures sorted by date and event. When the band spent a week at band camp, we had day by day catalogs of photos. People (parents & friends) could simply follow, download the files or order prints from the Picasa system. Now this sounds kind of simplistic, but in reality its a great way to distribute photos to a large group of people. In this case, there were 212 kids in the band, so that’s a lot of parents and friends to try to give access to. Even though very simple, it turned out to be an elegant solution and they still use it to this day (Flickr could have served the purpose also). See the Fairmont Marching Band photos here and the bands overall website here (this has a link to the Picasa photo Album) . In another use; I’m building an archive of old family photos that date back almost 100 years, and when I get done I will share it with at least 30 family members through Picasa. Its easy for people to access and it’s free or very in-expensive if you opt for extra options and storage space.

Example two, an on going photo-stream: First, look at the home page of our website, see the flickr photo stream at the bottom? I know it has nothing to do with printing. And even though it’s pretty silly (some would say dumb), we get a lot of positive comments on it. Some people even ask when new photos are going up. I don’t know if we are right or wrong in our communications strategy with our customers and web visitors, but Flickr photo sharing has proved to be a great tool. It allows us to keep a fresh stream of photo’s rotating to show that we have a life outside of printing (like I said, the intent may be questionable, but the tool is great). I’ve really gotten to like Flickr (By Yahoo), the more I look around that site, I see some really great amateur and semi-Pro photos (a lot of bad ones also), but if you are looking for some creative ideas, there are a lot there. Its a lot like Picasa, but a lot different; you just need to play with both to see what you like.

Number 3 is not really an example because I have not had a chance to look closely at it, but what I have seen of Smug Mug is fairly intriguing. I think its more of a professional (or serious amateur) site than the other 2. You can build sites there and actually sell photos and make a profit (They will send you a check), but as always you have to produce something somebody wants to buy. I really need to read more about Smug Mug when I get a chance and maybe I’ll report a little more at that point. And if you know more about it, write a comment.

I don’t know if this helped, but we are trying to find and share practical uses for some of the new technology that’s inundating us today. I got the Idea from Bing Design who has been covering a lot of “Productivity Tools available on the web” on their blog, Bingenuity. Stay tuned for more.