It Takes a Community
I've always been told it's not what you know, but who you know, and the truth in this statement became apparent when I tried out two photo-sharing sites that had some cool blogging features.
Look at www.photoblogs.org for a listing of the Web's most popular picture-based blogs, and you'll soon see why so many photo-sharing services are incorporating blog support. Unlike me, there are some really good photographers around. Still, I figure I'll have children someday and will need to put up a baby blog or risk getting hauled away for child neglect.
I started out by trying the new HeyPix service. Using HeyPix's free Organizer app, I transferred all of my pictures to "Shoeboxes" on my PC and then stored them in "Albums" (also on my PC) that I could use to share photos on a HeyPix Web page, through e-mail, or on my own blog. It's bad enough for a computer slob like me to organize my photos once, but to have to do it twice before I could begin sharing photos was a pain.
The HeyPix Organizer also skimps on editing features, providing only rudimentary tools for cleaning up images. Although it supplies the same basic editing tools you can find in other free programs--red-eye removal, image cropping, RGB adjustments, and so on--the tools just don't offer enough control.
The service does, however, let you receive images directly from your camera phone (by sending pics from your phone to a specific e-mail address) and upload photos to blogs created with a variety of popular blogging tools (including Blogger, LiveJournal, Movable Type, and TypePad). I was able to upload puppy pictures to my doggie devotional on Blogger with far less trouble than I had figuring out how to set up Organizer to receive pictures from my camera phone. (Hint to frustrated users: Select an Album and then click Set Permissions.)
The custom URL (www.yourname.heypix.com) you get when signing up for your free account provides a nicely designed photo page to show to friends. I was able to set permissions to let friends comment on my pictures and display photos of their own on my site, which would have been fun if any of my friends had posted any pictures. As I said, it's not what you know...
You may want to monitor your site's content. While I was writing this article, the HeyPix home page showed a selection of the latest member pictures, and the top shot was one of a rather large man in a plaid shirt baring his, uh, rear. Children, cover your eyes!
HeyPix includes 50MB of storage and 200MB of photo transfers per month for free. Anything above that costs at least $5 a month, which gets you 1GB of storage and 2GB per month of transfers.
Cool: Easy blog support, plus it lets friends share their photos alongside yours.
Not cool: The Organizer application (shown at left) should be more intuitive.
Pricing: Free for 50MB of storage and 200MB monthly transfer; $5/month for Standard (1GB of storage, 2GB monthly transfer); $8/month for Pro (3GB of storage, 5GB monthly transfer)