Organizing and Displaying
Your Photo Albums
You’ve shot hundreds or thousands of pictures. Now what? You’ll probably want to get them organized, and will most probably want to share some of them with others. Depending on your goals, you may want to look for the right solution among the two big categories.
Offline Photo Albums
Offline photo albums are stand-alone software installed on your HDD. Popular examples include ACDSee, FastStone Image Viewer and many others. Their major benefit is their ability to pick up and organize your existing collection or digital pictures stored on the hard drive(s) regardless of their location. You don’t have to upload anything anywhere, you don’t have to worry about traffic or the limited storage space available with many photo hosting accounts. You just install the tool and use it.
Many tools in this category offer basic or even advanced (ACDSee Pro, Adobe Lightroom) image processing functionality, allowing you to fix basic things and apply a variety of enhancements to your photos without using a fully featured photo editor. Most folks will be quite satisfied with the basics including red eye correction, rotation, cropping, color, brightness and contrast adjustments, while others will be well served by tools such as ACDSee Pro and Adobe Lightroom offering comprehensive editing abilities along with convenient organizing and viewing of your entire photo collection.
The obvious disadvantage of offline photo albums is their inability to share your pictures with others. Granted, you can usually email a picture or two. Some more advanced tools (e.g. ACDSee) offer integration with online photo hosting sites, allowing you to upload select pictures there. But that’s about it. Offline photo albums are designed and implemented for your personal convenience and enjoyment.
Bugs and user errors can creep to online photo albums just as easily as they can be present in other software. Should you accidentally delete a photo or a bunch of pictures, you can always use a data recovery tool such as Hetman Photo Recovery to recover the images.
Online Photo Hosting
Online communities and automatic sharing of digital pictures are extremely popular today, and will gain more popularity in the future. Services such as Flickr, Picasa, Instagram and a great deal of others offer free storage space on their servers to let you upload your photos and share them with others.
Using online photo hosting solutions offers numerous advantages. Pictures uploaded to the cloud will be stored away from your mobile phone or PC, so they won’t be affected by viruses, upgrades, lost or stolen devices and upgraded hardware. In other words, pictures you store online are pretty well protected.
The whole point of online photo hosting services is the ability to share images and solicit comments. Popular photo hosting services offer plenty of that! Upload your pictures to Flickr or Picasa, and you’re sharing them with the whole world – or just select groups of people if you choose so.
On the other hand, online photo albums have many restrictions that quite limit their usability.
First, if you are an avid photographer, you can’t just upload everything you shoot; otherwise, you’ll exceed your storage allowance in a snap. Editing capabilities are usually limited to certain automatic or semi-automatic “enhancements”. You can’t store or process RAW files online (only *.jpeg, *.png, etc. files). Finally, you’ll have to spend time and bandwidth to have your pictures uploaded – which may be a major consideration for an active photographer.
Security wise, it’s easy to lose your entire account if your login credentials are compromised. Think it’s unlikely to happen? Think again: online services suffer from massive break-ins every once in a while, with attackers gaining full control over users’ accounts.
There is also another thing to consider. If you or someone else deletes a picture from your online account, it’s gone forever. No data recovery tools in existence will help you get deleted images back.
Both offline and online photo albums have their advantages and disadvantages. The good thing, however, is that you don’t have to choose between them. Use both! Keep and process your RAW photos on your computer (and make sure you have a backup copy somewhere). Upload some of your best works to a photo sharing service. There’s nothing more boring than a long set of similarly looking vacation pictures – so make sure you only upload your best pictures!