In the last decade, photography has become an increasingly digitised medium. But while many have revelled in the convenience and high-quality photography that digital cameras have granted, others have lamented the loss of traditional photographic printing - claiming that many digital cameras are not built to provide long-lasting photographic memories. While these complaints hold some ground, developments on the internet over the past few years have meant that there is now an easy way to maintain the longevity of your photos: online photo sharing.
The burgeoning popularity of online photo-sharing sites has seen the emergence of many successful internet brands in the new generation of web 2.0 sites. Photo sharing sites have flourished as more and more people - both professional and amateur photographers - continue to post their work and invite comments, links and general debate about their photos.
Uploading your photos and sharing them online has a range of benefits. For starters, if it's your child's first birthday party and you're keen to share the photos with family and friends across the world, you'll be able to do so - both simply and affordably - by placing them on an online photo album. Sharing your photos in this way avoids the expense of having to post photos to multiple recipients by mail, and is far more convenient than emailing large photo files that can take a while to download. What's more, using an online photo sharing site can also act as storage space for your photos, so you'll be able to keep them for an indefinite amount of time without cluttering up your computer's hard drive.
If you're a budding professional photographer, placing your photos on an online photo sharing site can be a great way to get yourself noticed by your peers. Many photo sharing websites let users add tags to their photos, so that other members of the photo sharing community will be able to easily find and view photos on similar subjects or from the same geographic location.
Tagging photos that you've uploaded to a photo sharing site means your photos will have much better visibility, and will also be likely to generate more user comments and constructive criticism of your work. Search engine Yahoo!, for instance, have recently started incorporating photos of famous world landmarks into their search results.
Online photo sharing, therefore, has a variety of merits that can be enjoyed by a cross-section of web users. Whether you're a developing photographer keen to share your work with the world, or you simply want to find an easy way for your grandmother to see photos of your new baby, online photo sharing is the answer for you!
Andrew regan is a freelance online journalist.