The Digital Dilemma

The Digital DilemmaManaging Photos Online in a Flash

By Lori Hutzler Eckert

So you finally gave in and bought a digital camera, thinking it would be would be the answer to all your photographic needs. After all, a digital camera offers an easy, cost-effective way to take photos – not to mention that wonderful instant-gratification factor.

But now there is a whole new set of issues to deal with – storing, organizing and sharing your pictures – which can be a conundrum for even the most organized shutterbug.

It’s enough to make you long for the old shoebox-filing method. But by arming yourself with some basic information, you can easily get your digital photos under control.

Storing photos online has many advantages over downloading them to your computer’s hard drive. By using an Internet-based site, you can view your files from any computer with an online connection. You also have the security of knowing if your home computer does a crash-and-burn act, your pictures are safe. And many sites offer the latest photo-editing options that you may not have on your standard computer or camera software.

Storage longevity is the main concern with online sites. Check the “Terms” section of your chosen site to see how long your files will be posted. Also, research your obligation for purchasing prints; some sites require users to buy a preset number of prints each year to keep their membership active.

When you join an online photo-management site, determine how you would like to organize your photos. Most sites will allow you to sort by date, album name or key word. Visit sites to determine which has the best sorting tools for you, and stick with the process. As with any other filing system, consistency is key.

Sharing photos may be one of the best benefits of shooting with a digital camera, but there are a few downsides to consider. Many sites won’t allow recipients to save or print pictures at home – this is where the companies make their money, after all. As well, most sites require all viewers to establish memberships. While the memberships usually are free, it may deter some recipients from accepting your invitation.

Those minor drawbacks aside, the perk of sharing pictures via an online photo management site makes the process worth it. As soon as your pictures are uploaded, you can begin to share your pictures with friends and family, most often through e-mail invitations.

You can choose to share all of your pictures, an entire album or a few selected pictures. And while most sites have a storage-size limit, they still allow users much more flexibility than is available when sending pictures by e-mail.

Take some time to test two or three sites, keeping your personal needs in mind, and you will find that managing your photos online actually is easy, fast and, best of all, almost always free.


This site has introduced a great new photo management option, allowing members to create a free personal Web page. By using a password, friends and family can view your page as well as add comments and their own pictures.
Yahoo! offers one of the best photo-management sites for personal use, as it allows you or the viewers of your pictures to download stored pictures, unlike most sites. By saving the file, you can also print it at home, instead of paying for prints online.
If you simply want to share your digital photos without storing them online, try this site. allows users to send large files, including as high-resolution photos up to 2 gigabytes, via the Internet for free.


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