While sites like Facebook or Picasa are perfect venues for sharing snapshots for the casual photographer, there remains a need for the more dedicated and serious photographer to share their work in the best possible light with acquaintances and clients. For those who have moved past simply pointing and clicking that are looking to explore and connect with other photographers and potentially monetize their craft, here’s a look at five of the most popular and best paid photo sharing websites. All make a great way to pass along your digital photography, and – like free solutions – share magic moments with friends and family, albeit in a format more conductive to professional paparazzi.
Among the benefits of paying to join Smugmug are the impact you have on those viewing your photos – they can view high-res versions of your pictures quickly, with no ads or other distractions. There are three different levels of subscription you can get to Smugmug – Basic for $40 a year, Power for $60 a year or Pro for $150 a year. The basic package is more than enough for the average photo-sharer, unless you need to be able to share HD videos in a stylish and customized website.
Smugmug offers no limit on the amount of photos and videos you can store, makes customizing your photo albums a breeze, provides photo mapping on Google Maps and makes sharing to Facebook, Twitter or other sites incredibly simple. The site also embraces the reality that many of us are no longer using cameras to capture our pictures, but instead relying on our iPhones and iPads. Smugmug’s Camera Awesome app which allows for enhanced photo filtering and composition is free, and also offers “precording,” which starts your video up to 5 seconds before you actually hit the record button.
500PX bills itself as the world’s best photography community, and is a place where those more serious about the craft of photography can share their photos while enoying the work of others. This isn’t the place to share a dozen similar snapshots of your toddler eating spaghetti for the first time, but rather a site where you can find inspiration from the beautiful and artistic photos of others. A plus membership for 500PX is very competitively priced at $20 per year, offering unlimited uploads, storage and collections, while also providing information and statistics about your photos. The company is looking to take on some of the industry giants, such as Flickr, and it’s drawing many passionate photographers its way with its large community and relatively inexpensive pricing.
Zenfolio’s aim is to allow amateurs and professionals with a platform to make their photos look as beautiful and impressive as possible. If you’re looking for a level of polish and ease with the way others view your photos, Zenfolio is a great place for you, and is especially perfect for budding photographers looking to sell their prints.
A $30/year basic Zenfolio plan provides you with 4 GB of storage, a complete website for sharing your work and a customizable photo blog, among others. For $60 a year, you can use your own domain name and receive unlimited storage. The professional package is $120 a year and is designed to allow you to have your own portfolio and proofind website, letting you watermark your photos and sell them, either via partners or yourself (with a small percentage to zenfolio). There’s even a premium business model which improves on the professional features.
Phanfare’s basic $29 a year membership is geared towards casual photographers looking to share their work with others. The site allows for ad-free photosharing as well as a plethora of editing tools, slideshop options, unlimited storage and customization. The site is also designed to work beautifully on the iPhone and iPad, which is perfect since that’s how many of us are accessing the web these days the most. Phanfare does also offer premium versions for up to $199 per year in case you’d like to try and earn money from selling items featuring your photos.
A division of American Greetings, Webshots boasts that it has more than 7 million monthly visitors and more than 500 million photographs for users to explore. A free version provides limited functionality, but upgrading to premium removes all ads and allows for stat-tracking of your photographs, among other things. If any of your friends or family use Webshots, you can automatically be alerted whenever new photos are added, and easily view them.
There’s also a section of Webshots dedicated to helping you find the perfect shot from a professional photographer, with the ability to search by category or keyword. The Gold version of Webshots is $19.99 per year, and the Platinum version for $39.99 a year is nearly identical, except it also allows for the ability to download and save Picture Shows of up to 10 minutes in length.