New Parentsfilter: What's the best and easiest way to share photos?
February 24, 2013 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Earlier this week, Mrs. Zooropa gave birth to our son, Elias (we call him Eli). He is our first, so of course, we are taking all sorts of photos and video on our phones, and have received a ton of requests from grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Here's my question: what's the best and easiest way to share photos and videos with all these folks?

Here are some criteria:

* It should be EASY (many folks in our families are tech-challenged and I'm too pooped to play tech support).

* It should be secure.

* Free would be preferable, but I don't mind paying a few bucks per month if necessary.

* Cross-platform is a must. I have an iPhone 5 and my wife had an older Android device.

Thanks in advance!
posted by zooropa to Computers & Internet (30 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Pretty sure you're talking about Facebook.

And congratulations ;)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:09 AM on February 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yeah, Facebook is what's worked for this for my own family. And congrats! (Do we get to see a picture....hint hint?)
posted by easily confused at 10:10 AM on February 24, 2013

I assume by "secure" you mean not visible to the general public? That will of course require your family and friends to sign up for an account at whatever site you choose. What are they likely to have already? Facebook seems like the most common account type to have.
posted by desjardins at 10:11 AM on February 24, 2013

Yeah, there are two basic approaches here depending on whether you want the family to be able to interact (online) regarding the photos/videos you're posting or only be able to download them.

If the former, Facebook or (especially if they already have gmail accounts) G+.

If the latter, Dropbox public folder, use email mailing list to disseminate links.
posted by carsonb at 10:11 AM on February 24, 2013

I'd use glassboard, which is a private social network. They sign up, you post the pictures there. Much more private and secure than facebook, and really userfriendly once you get them to sign up.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:12 AM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Everyone has a Facebook account ... except Mrs. Zooropa. *grin*

I don't think anyone is going to use this to interact. It's mostly to offer one place for our extended family to download photos so they can get prints and generally keep up with Eli's growth. Plus, it would function as my online photo album.

"Secure" means that the only people who see these photos are people I choose. I'd like to keep the perverts away, which is one reason a friend recommended against Shutterfly.
posted by zooropa at 10:17 AM on February 24, 2013

I use shutterfly for this. You can make albums private, if that's really a concern.
posted by ook at 10:21 AM on February 24, 2013

You can lock down a Flickr account. Anyone with a Gmail address can access Flickr without signing up for another account.
posted by supercres at 10:23 AM on February 24, 2013

How about a private blog where you set up an email-a-post feature and add all your family? Bet you could do it for free at

posted by thatone at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2013

Best answer: Our family uses Smugmug for this and has been happy with it. It's something like $40/yr. They have good and fine-grained privacy settings. You can set passwords for your albums, and give the password to your relatives. They don't have to create their own account (an annoyance I wanted to spare them).
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:27 AM on February 24, 2013

Dropbox public folder works awesomely for this. If you want them to be able to get prints of decent quality, stay away from Facebook - the way they compress photos is really crap.
posted by thirdletter at 10:27 AM on February 24, 2013

1) the correct answer is still facebook, despite your wife not having an account. Anyone who cares will automatically see when you add new photos without having to sign up and figure out another online service.

2) I'd like to keep the perverts away
Perverts aren't as a rule, particularly interested in random baby pictures on the internet. It would be easier to google image search "baby" than to specifically stalk you online, unless this pervert has some external reason to be interested in your child specifically (like he's the weird uncle or something).
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:27 AM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you don't want all your family to have to sign up for some other new service, you can create two accounts on [service], one for you and Mrs. Z to add/remove/edit photos, and one for everyone in the family to view photos. Yes, you'll need to do things like have the password EliBabyPhotos, but people aren't really going to try to break in to your online photo album account to see baby pictures.
posted by jeather at 10:28 AM on February 24, 2013

We started using dropbox for this, with a subfolder thats open to share with family and friends. It works really well, and everyone in the family can do what they please with the photos at full resolution.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:38 AM on February 24, 2013

Best answer: We also use smugmug. Facebook is great for sharing a few pictures, but if you want to share an album you should find something better. Smugmug also doubles as a backup for the pictures and will allow anyone who has the password the ability to download the original also works for video...
posted by NoDef at 10:40 AM on February 24, 2013

We've been doing what thatone suggests on Blogger for years now and it's proven a very good way to share the highlights.

One added piece of advice: Set up a Twitter account that both parents can tweet from whenever the kid does or says something cute. Not everything can be photographed.
posted by etc. at 10:51 AM on February 24, 2013

I use Coppermine for this on a domain hosting account. I just set an album password and nobody needs to login.
posted by COD at 11:08 AM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't put any photos I really care about on Facebook. The only ones I post there are down sampled and watermarked. The pictures I care to share are on Flickr. Most everything can upload there and the terms of service are not changing every 5 minutes. Facebook is just too sleazy to me. I hate using it for the one-off cell phone shots I do post there. I also resent that nearly every interaction we have online is supposed to be leveraged by Facebook in the first place. I don't trust them. Our kid has a blog, when I update the blog I send an email with the link and my wife posts a link from Facebook. But the photo albums are hosted by Flickr, so that relatives can download full-res shots - with EXIF data still included (Facebook removes all metadata!) - so people can print their favorites. It's worth the $25 a year to me to have unlimited backup.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:10 AM on February 24, 2013

I would use a Dropbox folder. Facebook is okay, but it is difficult to download photo albums without a browser plugin. I suppose this is okay if you have the photos stores locally anyway, but Dropbox is a more private option and has a great photo slideshow feature.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:17 AM on February 24, 2013

This is really what glassboard is designed for--an invite-only social network where you retain ownership of all of your content (without having to worry about terms changing, as with facebook). It would let relatives both view it and make little crowing comments without relying on services that aren't really designed for this (blogger, flickr). It would also let you just leave text updates ("Mini Zooropa said 'dada' today!") if you want to do that, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2013

We've used Tumblr for this, under the premise that strangers just aren't going to be that interested in a random baby picture tumblog. I like it because it's easy to post from my phone; I can queue up posts so they're automatically spread out, rather than 20 pictures all going up at once; and it's easy for all our family to use. I have the posts forward to Facebook, because that's where my mom spends lots of time. I think it's possible to do a password-protected Tumblr, but I haven't looked.
posted by linettasky at 12:42 PM on February 24, 2013

Tumblrs can be made private, with access granted via password. The best part is that people who don't have tumblr can still view the photos, which is a drawback to facebook.
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:43 PM on February 24, 2013

Just to add to the mix, I used picasa. The chronicle of my sons life (from being born 3 months premature to now) can be witnessed via one link. I have various family members who abhor anything to do with facebook, and also its often blocked from corporate networks (I know it is at my work), whereas picasa isn't as far as I know.
posted by Admira at 4:35 PM on February 24, 2013

There is a cross-platform app called Familiar that's good for this. Very locked down and automatically pushes your photos out to your family. No videos, though...
posted by wyzewoman at 5:00 PM on February 24, 2013

I use Flickr. Both sets of grandparents already had either a Gmail or Yahoo email address so it was just a matter of teaching them one time how to log in/set up a Flickr account. It's secure (enough for me, anyway) because I can set my Flickr photos to only be viewable by contacts I select. The grandparents get an automatic email when I post new photos. I have different streams set up for different events, for general photos, and for the month-by-month shots.

I'm not sure you can send a photo directly from your phone to flickr (probably not), but I use iPhoto for everything and it's fairly simple to download my iPhone photos to iPhoto and then VERY simple to get them from iPhoto to Flickr (It's one of the share options). All free. My in-laws are not the savviest with computers and once we got them up and running they've had no problems.
posted by bibbit at 6:25 PM on February 24, 2013

Oh, and for video, I use Vimeo. More complicated but we rarely take video at this point so it hasn't been a big deal.
posted by bibbit at 6:26 PM on February 24, 2013

I'm not sure you can send a photo directly from your phone to flickr

Yes, you can - there are Flickr apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, and you can always upload via email from any device that will send email.
posted by sriracha at 4:48 AM on February 25, 2013

Dropbox is worth considering. Your ~/Dropbox/Public/ is served to the web, but *any* Dropbox folder is sharable with a simple link. So you could send out a Dropbox URL to friends and family, and anything you copy into that folder is visible to them when they check. If they also have Dropbox and you share the folder with them (e.g., grandparents), they will have their own copy of the picture seamlessly synced to their own computers in the background.

The downsides are - if you're sharing via private URL, they have to manually check that URL to see if there's new content; and if you're sharing a folder, the shared stuff counts against the quota for both users.

Tumblr is also good - given the torrent of content on tumblr, I highly doubt a "pervert" is interested in your baby pictures, but if you're worried, you could always password protect it. The problem is, again, that the viewers have to remember to check it, and passwords add more friction.

We blogged for a while, but the whole setup (Blogger, Flickr to host high quality pics, copy and paste to transfer the URL) was too cumbersome. This was before Google ate Blogger, ate Picasa, and mated them, so that may be better now. Again, people have to check with a bookmark, or understand RSS feeds.

Or, alas, there's Facebook.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:51 AM on February 25, 2013

(Aside from the "I hate their corporate philosophy" factor of Facebook, the other issue there is that people who dislike it often REALLY dislike it. If I put all my kid photos on Facebook, my dad would never see them. Ever. If you have any adamantly-anti-Facebook family or friends, be prepared for them to never see any of your photos if that's the route you go.)
posted by caution live frogs at 12:50 PM on February 25, 2013

Response by poster: Hi folks,

Here's an update -- after reviewing all the options, we've gone with SmugMug. Thank you, NoDef and LobsterMitten.

I appreciate all the feedback that you've provided here. It was enlightening to read and review all the suggestions and comments.

On behalf of Mrs. Zooropa, thank you. The Green really came through, and I'm delighted with the choice you helped us make.

posted by zooropa at 9:01 AM on February 26, 2013

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