Monday, October 8, 2012

Going Asocial with the Piwigo

Online photography is a dynamic Universe. Right in front of our eyes we have seen an ugly duckling of the Facebook photo sharing turning into a mature bird, and the Kodak Gallery dying painful death.

With more and more platforms offering online photo storage there are few assuming you would do it for privacy reason, and almost every single one pushing you to share. Between all those dead and still alive I've tried both mentioned above as well as Flickr, Shutterfly, Costco, Picasa and of course Photoshelter.

Every each one serves different purposes, and sometimes more than one. Flickr promotes itself as a NON-commercial, amateur photographer based showcase platform with flexible paid plan. While Picasa, currently integrated into Google+, offers unlimited free storage if you don't mind getting all your photos resized. Otherwise you may choose to pay to Google for extra Gigabites of storage if you prefer keeping your photos full-size but happen to step over the set limits. Facebook is seemingly getting better taking in full size photos, while crunching them down more and more neatly. All of the above are focused on sharing, on socializing, rather than keeping your images private, although Google is good at trying different things and catering to more versatile clientele with their Drive feature.

What if you don't feel like being social, but prefer keeping your photos online, whether as a backup, or a showcase with the exclusive private access?

Photoshelter definitely stands out of the crowd. First of all, it is mostly paid service. Free account does not give you much room. I believe it's set to keep disgruntled customers, or to give a taste of their phenomenal support to the newly converted. If you are willing to spring about $100 a year - you'll get 10GB of apparently safe storage for your precious archive and the tools to create your own site, with either private or public access to the photos.

One very important feature is e-commerce part of Photoshelter. If you are commercial photographer, the Photoshelter could be a storefront for your photos, whether it is Royalty Free or Right Managed license download, fine prints, cards and posters of all sizes and shapes, personal use print orders or instant access to the photos you can open to your customers.

At the same time it's a place for professional photographers to communicate to each other through the forum pages. It's a place for industry pundits to share their ideas via free PDF handouts for the Photoshelter customers. This is where you can join the webinar to learn few new things about photography business. And on, and on.

I'd like to see a photography storage place made better than Photoshelter. Please bring it in in the comments.

And yet - Piwigo. Why do I care?

If you are a blogger or a web designer, or if you are paying for the hosting for any other reason already, I suggest you try Piwigo open-source platform to store your photographs privately or socially. It's easy to install, easy to run, and if you have right plan with your hosting provider, you may end up with 10-dollar-a-year bill for all your needs. Piwigo can keep your full size photos absolutely privately, so only you or people you allow to can see them. So I have one for my family photos with the separate login for each family member.

Or you can make it a public gallery with social network integration. Here is mine - (Hint: you may "like" or "tweet" it. To be honest, I am still waiting for the Pinterest plug-in from the Piwigo developers. But I am sure, it's on the way. I also expect them to write one for the Fotomoto e-commerce services.

There are two Piwigo instances as of now, just like there are two Wordpresses - one is the ORG, and another - the COM versions of it. I am talking about the ORG, that is the It's coming with multiple themes, including the mobile one, and the back end, including the Piwigo iPhone app. Open source community is busy writing plug-ins for all possible improvements.

To summarize, if you are paying for the web-hosting and are familiar with HTML, FTP and JPG, it may be worth trying. You can follow my step-by-step installation walk-through by clicking on the Piwigo Setup link in the header (look up) or here. Good luck exploring reach Piwigo opportunities. And please let me know if I missed something.