We used to pull out the family photo albums to show our photos, or set up the slide projector and shine images onto a white wall or sheet. Photo sharing is so much easier now, whatever level of photography you’re at. However, there are so many image hosting sites that it can be overwhelming trying to decide on the best photo sharing platform.
Let’s start with your needs as they’ll determine the best way for you to share photos online. Are you looking for:
- Great free options for sharing photos with friends and family
- Slightly more advanced free and paid photo sharing for the photography enthusiast
- Sophisticated paid online photo sharing platforms for professional photographers
Bearing that in mind, here are my top 7 photo sharing platforms for photographers, from beginner to professional. I’ve saved my favorite for last!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links at no cost to you.
Cost: Free up to 5GB. Extra storage can be purchased.
Anyone who uses an iPhone, iPad, MacBook or iMac will know about storing their photos with iCloud.
But did you know that you can create photo sharing albums in iCloud?
It’s a great way for friends and family to share photos. If you’ve been on holiday together, had a lovely dinner out or just gathered in the back yard. The easiest way to share your photos privately is in an iCloud shared album.
Each member can contribute to the album – it’s the perfect photo sharing platform for everyone to instantly view and download photos, instead of emailing or WhatsApping them to each other.
2. Amazon Photos
Cost: Free with Amazon Prime Membership.
While we’re on the subject of collaborative albums, Amazon Photos also offers the ability to create albums that you can share with family and friends.
The only glitch is that only Amazon Prime Members can create albums. However, you can set up a “Family Vault” and add up to five family members to it. All members will be able to add and download photos from the vault.
Other benefits of the Amazon photo sharing platform are:
- Full resolution photo backup
- View your photos on a Fire TV or any screen connected to Alexa
- Print your photos and not just individual prints, you can also create photo books
- Easily share an album or individual photos by email or by sending someone a link
3. Google Photos
Cost: Free up to 15 GB for photos under 16 megapixels in size. Extra storage can be purchased.
After Google bought Picasa they changed it into Google Photos. Like iCloud and Amazon Photos, collaborative albums can be created for sharing photos online privately or publicly.
Here’s what you can do with Google Photos, other than just share online:
- Create and order photo products directly from you Google Photos account, including:
- Photo books – 9×9 inches hard cover or 7×7 inches soft cover
- Canvasses – 8×8 inches, 11×14 inches or 16×20 inches
- Prints – 4×6 inches, 5×7 inches or 8×10 inches (available in USA only)
Google Photos is a great backup solution for photos on your phone and your computer. In addition, photos can be shared from the album by email or simply with a shareable link.
Cost: Free up to 1000 photos. Upgrade to Pro for additional features, services and discounts to other photography related providers.
It’s quite incredible what you can do for free on Flickr, one of the biggest and best known photo sharing sites.
Not only is it well integrated with social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram, but also with other photography apps.
You can share your photos publicly or privately or with selected people only by changing your settings.
It’s great for community as you can comment on others’ photos, receive comments on yours, join groups…basically social networking based on photography.
For a free image sharing site that’s quite impressive and, although you don’t have to, upgrading to a paid subscription will give you even more storage.
Cost: Free, plus get 500MB with this link. Upgrade for additional storage and functionality.
When Dropbox started I was so excited by the opportunities and nearly 13 years later I’m still a big fan of Dropbox photo sharing, but it’s more than just a photo sharing platform. I moved everything on my computer to Dropbox so didn’t break a sweat when various computers have died over the years. I use it every day, because both of my computers and my phone are synced to Dropbox.
I started with the free plan and then over the years have upgraded my subscription in line with my needs.
I don’t recommend storing your active Lightroom catalog or photos in Dropbox, because it makes working on your photos very, very slow and tedious.
Why Dropbox is good for photographers
Dropbox is perfect for securely storing Lightroom Classic catalog backups. After all, there’s no point having a backup to your catalog on the same hard drive as your catalog – if the hard drive crashes you’ll lose both your catalogue and your backup.
Another great advantage of Dropbox for photographers is the ability to access it from anywhere and allow access with just a shareable link or by email. I used to use it to deliver all client digitals, but have found another solution now with a better client experience for my portrait clients (more about this later).
Dropbox is very much a practical solution to storing and sharing files. It’s not about showcasing your photos in galleries or delivering an esthetic client experience. That said, it’s still my preferred way to deliver slideshows and videos for clients.
My family is spread around the globe and I find it the best photo sharing platform to get photos and videos to everyone, even my technophobe uncle in Australia. Like the first three photo sharing platforms, the Dropbox photo sharing folders I set up aren’t just for me to send them photos, they can also upload their photos and videos to the shared folders for everyone in the group to see.
Cost: Free 14 day trial. Subscriptions start from $8 per month. Commission charged on print sales.
SmugMug is a really good photo sharing platform for all levels of photography. Your photo sharing options are limited only by how much you want to pay per month and therefore the plan you choose.
If all you want is storage, you’re going to love that it offers unlimited storage for full resolution photos and 1080p videos.
Organization and esthetics are another two big reasons for choosing SmugMug. Photos can be stored in easily searchable albums and, depending on your plan, they offer pre-made website designs for presenting and selling your photos as digital files or printed products with professional labs.
Because galleries can be password protected, you can choose whether to share publicly, privately or with certain people only.
SmugMug also offers a free trial.
Advantages of SmugMug
- Cloud storage
- Share photos
- Create community
- Sell photos
- Sell photo products printed at professional labs
- Upload directly from Lightroom
If you wan to sell photos, one thing to be aware of with SmugMug is that they charge 15% commission on all your sales.
Cost: Free for 100 photos. Free trial. Subscriptions start from $10 for per month for 1500 photos. No commission!
Shootproof is one of the industry leaders and in my opinion the best photo sharing platform, because it offers so much for a very reasonable price.
7 reasons Shootproof is the best photo sharing platform for professional photographers:
- Very secure with password protected galleries for proofing, downloading photos and ordering print products from professional labs around the world.
- Protects photos (as much as is possible online) with various watermarking options from clients that might screenshot images.
- Unlimited online galleries personalised to each client and branded to your business, which can even be set to music for a better client experience.
- Send digital contracts for signature and invoices directly to your clients from within Shootproof.
- Create a fully branded mobile photo album app for each client in just a few clicks – they can download it to their phone and also share on social media.
- Create branded slideshows set to music for in person sales.
- Presets! Save time with a range of presets for everything you want to do, from creating a gallery to contacting your client.
What I particularly love is the ability to send a personalised email directly to the client from a list of email templates with details and a link to their gallery. I can leave a welcome message with instructions or whatever I want to say when they open the gallery.
There are many more features ideally suited to professional photographers, like being able to upload directly from Lightroom. They’ve thought of everything, even webinars, video tutorials and an online community to help you use the platform.
I could go on, but the best way to discover what Shootproof can do for your photography business is to give it a go with their free trial.
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