Updated on June 13, 2010
One of the many joys of traveling is documenting your experience with photography. Not only does this allow everyone back home to see where you were, but it will help you remember the trip as well. In the days of film this meant large tubs of semi-organized photographs stacked in a closet. Needless to say the photos were rarely enjoyed to their fullest.
Now with film cameras all but wiped out of the picture viewing and organizing photographs has never been easier. Now the question is where to store your photo collection? We are now entrusting our memories and if you sell photography assets to a hard drive or memory card. Crashing computers are a fact of life. So how do you protect your collection?
There are countless services out there that you can use for this purpose. Some of them also make it easy to sell prints online.
You could purchase server space like I have here to run this site. There are plenty of programs out there that can help you host and organize your photography. There are even some very good ones that are open source. The advantage of this is that it would be completely customizable. If you have already paid to host a website and can fit your collection on the same server you may even save money. If you need a host I would suggest BlueHost. They host this site and I have been very happy with the service.
Flickr is a photo storage/sharing system owned by yahoo. It is a sort of social networking photo sharing website. Flickr offers great tools for hobby or family photography. You can easily share your collection publicly or privately. The premium account is certainly worth it for $24.95. It buys you unlimited space and sets. The biggest advantage that flickr offers is the huge amount of traffic that it receives. If you are a professional photographer it is probably worth the $24.95 just for the exposure it would return.
ImageKind.com has paired with flickr to allow your accounts to be synced. ImageKind is more of a sales platform than one for sharing and storing images. They have both free and paid plans. The free plan although highly restrictive may be just what you’re looking for if you are a hobby photographer. Most paid selling platforms cost $100 or more per year plus commission on sales. You could offer only your finest images on ImageKind while storing your complete collection with flickr.
SmugMug seems to be the choice service for many professional photographers. A storage and sharing account similar to flickr costs $39.95. Their site is supposed to be more secure. It is offers you a highly customizable sub-domain and the ability to purchase prints. The $39.95 doesn’t make it easy to sell prints as you can’t automatically add a mark up for sales. You could take orders, have them printed, and then forward them to the customer, but that would get very tedious. For $149.95 a year you can have a professional account complete with to set your own prices. It also increases the maximum image size to 24mb and opens the door for high-def video. If I could afford it this would be my choice.
There are many other options out there as well. Some are worth a look and some aren’t. Be careful with some companies like Photoworks where they have no obligation to store your photos. I have had items stored there as I used them for film development in the past. I was warned that my collection would be deleted if I didn’t make at least one purchase a year. Well that never happened and it has been a few years. But to be safe I would advise against counting on services like theirs for storage or backup.