These days when the gang gets together, everyone is a photographer. Whether it’s the old high school group, your favorite mates from college, a wedding, or the summer family reunion, everyone has a few great photos to share. But how on earth does one get all the best photos together to share with everyone else? Here is the expert’s guide on gathering and sharing photos with your group.
I’ll be honest with you, folks, this is still a constantly changing space, so the answer may be completely different a year from now. I check in with my APPO colleagues every few months on what we and our clients are using for group sharing. That’s our lovely Association of Professional Photo Organizers featured above at our 2019 conference. For now, you have at least 4 good options for gathering and sharing photos with your group:
- Forever.com. If you haven’t heard of this company, that’s not surprising. It’s about 5 years old, but this company is the only company who will keep your photos private and guarantees to host your memories (photos, voice, video, and documents) for the duration of your lifetime and on through to your descendants if you choose. It also guarantees to migrate photos from the current format to whatever the next format is for our pictures. Who knows what that will be in 50 years? Through their free intro accounts with 2 GB of storage, one person can be the point to accept an entire group of photos from everyone involved, and then share them in a beautiful digital album. That amount of storage can hold roughly between 1,000-2,000 photos that are about 1-2 MB each. You can also easily create physical albums, if you choose. If you do start with their free account, I do recommend looking into their permanent, private storage…forever. You stop renting and you own your cloud space.
- SmugMug is another photo-specific platform that works well for small and large batches of photos, according to my APPO.org colleagues. The SmugMug account owner creates a special web link that they then send to all the group participants. Each person goes to this web link and uploads photos as a batch. The owner can change settings and restrict privacy, if needed. We like SmugMug because it is a private service that allows you to keep the original sizes and metadata of the pictures uploaded. Basically, it’s a service that the pros have used for years, that isn’t so wonky that you can’t enjoy a beautiful photo gallery, too. Here’s some specific information on how the SmugMug guest upload option works. Here’s my affiliate link that gets you 20% off your SmugMug subscription.
- An app to check is DropEvent.com. You might be able to get away with the free 3-day trial or you pay $20/month for as long as you need to keep that event open. So, if you collect and download all of the photos in one month, then cancel the event and you are only out $20. People can easily upload directly from their phone or computer. Just be sure to download all of your photos before you cancel the monthly fee. And if you are using something new, be sure to test it before you hand out the link to dozens of guests! There are other apps like this out there; I’ve seen a few enter and leave the market very quickly. I’d love to hear if you’ve used an app like this.
- Almost everybody uses Dropbox these days, but you might not have used the File Requests feature yet. It’s really quite slick and easy to use and doesn’t require the participants to have a Dropbox account. If you are gathering photos from relatives after an event, set up a specific folder and then generate a ‘File Request’ link specifically for that folder by going into your Dropbox.com account in a browser. I don’t think you can do this from within your PC file explorer window or the Mac Finder. You can send the link right from Dropbox, and the participants receive an email with clear and easy upload instructions. You control the folder structure and where the uploads go, making group collection pretty simple. Dropbox notifies you when uploads are made. You can send the link to multiple people, not just once. It’s not a shared folder; people are just sending you the files, and you can move them to another location if you want. Dropbox doesn’t change photo resolution or metadata.
These are not, by any stretch, the only ways to share photos with a group. However, many of the well known options have downsides like privacy issues, ease of use, cross-platform limitations, and unfortunate problems with compressing photos and their metadata. So if you are looking for a high-quality option for many people at an important event, check out any of these options, and let me know what worked for you to gather and share photos with your group.
You’re going to need this later, so pin it now: