You can always use cloud-storage sites to organize and back up your photos, but there are several services that specialize in image files, and they are designed to help you organize, share and edit photos inside the tool.
Let’s start with an online photo storage tool that’s not actually designed for photo storage. Picasa is a super-secret weapon for getting your graphic library into shape. Install this free program (courtesy of Google), and it searches your entire computer for all graphic files. The program leaves the files where they are, but the Picasa interface now gives you access to see everything.
In just a few minutes, you can find duplicate picture files, add names to pictures (especially easy if you sign in to Google and use your Gmail contacts) and create folders. You can also create folders and files to share with others and store them in your Google Drive account (5GB free).
But one of the most awesome tools is hidden under the hood — editing with my favorite tools from the long-lost Picnik web app! They were purchased by Google a few years ago, much to my dismay. But now the easy editing tools are available in Picasa, along with easy collage-making capabilities.
Flickr is a grandfather in the cloud-storage department, invented way before we ever started using the word “cloud.” Owned by Yahoo!, Flickr in and of itself is pretty simple. You upload photos, there you have them, uploaded photos. You can organize them into albums, tag them or share them with friends. But one of the coolest things about Flickr these days is their “App Garden,” which holds approximately one terabyte of third-party apps that integrate with your Flickr feed.
The apps allow you to do everything from backup your Flickr collection to automatically upload and organize. Plus, there are any number of tools to edit your photos.
Photobucket is another cloud storage solution for pictures, allowing up to 2GB free. Like other services, you can share photos or keep them private. Photobucket uses Aviary photo editing tools to add borders, crop, add filters and more.
My sister uses Shutterfly to share the adorable photos of my adorable nephews, with the peace of mind that Shutterfly defaults all the uploads to private and specializes in sharing personal photos with small groups, such as classrooms, sports teams and families.
Shutterfly makes its money by encouraging you to buy prints and gifts from your photos and makes it ridiculously easy to do so. That’s why our favorite gift from my sister is the annual family calendar, with photos of all of us with the kids throughout the year, along with birthdays and important family dates.
Because Shutterfly wants you to buy stuff to pay for their services, they won’t let you download a high-res version of your upload. If you want the full resolution photos, you’re going to have to pay ten bucks or more plus shipping and handling for an archive DVD.
Oh, and surprise! Looks like Shutterfly partnered with my favorite multimedia video maker Animoto so you can create “Videograms” from your Shutterfly pictures for $30/year (the same price as a subscription to Animoto).
Finally, if you’re really good at taking pictures, I’m talking portfolio good, you might consider SmugMug, a photo storage and sharing site made for amateur and professional photographers. The site can be a beautiful backdrop for your photo portfolio, and the higher subscription levels even integrate with eCommerce options to sell your masterpieces. SmugMug is quite reasonably priced: unlimited photos starting at $40/year.