At the end of December, I started seriously looking for a new solution to share photos with family and friends. Until that point I had been using a Shutterfly share site. I upload my photos after working on them in Lightroom (see later in this post for a summary of my photo workflow, currently), where (among other things) I have added captions to their metadata. Unfortunately, Shutterfly strips all metadata when photos are uploaded to their site. That means I had to *manually* re-enter my captions on the Shutterfly site (copy-and-paste) for sharing with my family and friends. I kept thinking, “There has to be a better way!”
The thing I like about the Shutterfly sites is you can set it up so that it is only available to those with whom I share the URL. It isn’t searchable by engines like Google Image Search (as far as I know), so I wasn’t too worried about a random person finding a photo of my little girl and using it without my knowledge. I didn’t password-protect the sites because I often posted the link on Facebook (my FB account is pretty private, but I still don’t want FB to have my actual photos!), and I’m wasn’t sure which of my friends actually followed the link to look at my albums.
Since I listen to the Digi Show podcast quite a bit (see more about my podcast-listening habits HERE), I started learning more about Flickr and how it works. Katie, one of the co-hosts for the show, is basically my Flickr hero! Based on what I heard from her, I decided that Flickr was going to be the way I went.
The three most exciting things to me about using Flickr were that 1) the free account gives you 1 terabyte(!) of storage space, 2) Flickr stores your full-resolution images and they are available for full-res download, and 3) when you upload to Flickr, it automatically imports your metadata–including captions. On top of all of that, you have quite a bit of control over your privacy settings– right down to the individual photos. I’m pretty happy with how things are working out for me so far. I create sets (albums) each month with our favorite photos to share. The majority of these photos are available to both “family” and “friends” to view (I am able to manually approve contacts within Flickr, and designate them friends and/or family, as the case may be), and a few of the photos I’ve restricted further to just “family” viewing.
The disadvantage of using Flickr is that no longer can my Facebook friends casually view photos. They have to make an active effort to request me as a contact (“follow me”) on Flickr. I’ve also had some friends have trouble finding me on Flickr to request to follow– and I’m not sure whether this is user error (on both ends??) or some other issue. However, our families have all been able to view the photos since I set up the new sharing system, and that’s my main intended audience.
Back to the positives: in addition to using my account to share our photo highlights each month, I decided to make use of that lovely whole terabyte of storage and use Flickr as an additional layer of (external) backup for my photos. You might remember that in January and February, I backed up my entire collection of digital photographs (every. single. one.) to Flickr. It feels really good to have an offsite backup for my images.
So here’s a summary of my photo workflow these days:
- as often as possible: transfer photo files from my memory cards (or from my phone, using Dropbox) to my laptop’s hard drive
- as often as possible: delete photos I know I will never use or want, and rename the remaining files with YYYY_MM_DD_shortcaption filenames. I only do the renaming for photos from my camera, since they are just numbered, and phone photos have the date as their filename already. No need to make even more extra work for myself!
- as often as possible: import photos into Lightroom and add captions to metadata. Add tags, if applicable (I don’t do a lot of tagging, but I try to keep up with a short list)
- with each Lightroom import: select and mark (via color label) family highlight photos. Only these photos are edited in the Develop module (in addition, I edit photos that I will use on my blog, and occasionally a few others, but not often). These family highlight photos are automatically pulled into smart collections for each month
- at the end of each month: export family highlight photos to a temporary folder on my computer. Upload these (edited) photos to Flickr (as well as another external backup drive), applying “famly” and/or “friends” settings as they are uploaded. Delete the temporary folder from my computer once the uploads are complete.
- at the end of each month: upload my entire month’s photos (unedited) to Flickr into a private (only viewable by me) set.