Send It to Me Straight
Though sites like HeyPix and Flickr force you to upload your pics to their servers before they let you display the photos online, services like AllPeers, Electric Shoebox, FotoSwap, Hello, OurPictures, and others use peer-to-peer file sharing to allow you to trade photos directly with friends--no uploading them to a server or sending them as e-mail attachments.
As nauseatingly banal as its tagline, "Digital photos, simple as a smile," may be, OurPictures does actually provide a simple solution for sharing images.
After importing my photos to albums in the OurPictures organizer on my PC, I clicked the ones I wanted to share and then typed in my dad's e-mail address and a short message. OurPictures sent an e-mail containing a direct link to a page on its Web site that displayed them all.
My dad received the message almost instantly and was able to view and save the photos. He typed in his zip code, and up popped a list of online photo processors and local retailers that support OurPictures (including Ritz Camera and Wolf Camera stores). This is a great service--if you're like me, you're too impatient to wait for prints to arrive in the mail and too lazy to print photos yourself.
On the downside, I found OurPictures' editing tools meager, with just a couple of buttons and a slider to rotate, adjust brightness, fix red-eye, crop, and write captions. The service doesn't support blogs or offer any kind of cool chat features, either.
Transferring pictures from a camera phone to OurPictures was a cinch. Just send the pictures to the e-mail address the service provides, and the images automatically appear in the organizer on your PC. Unlike with other sites, though, I had to pay for the privilege by buying the Deluxe package, which costs $3 a month or $30 annually. The Deluxe package also lets you share more than 25 pictures a month (the limit with the free version) and includes OurPictures TV (see Pictures Without the PC), which is set to launch in the first half of this year.
Cool: You can send photos to a local photo processor, as well as e-mail pictures from a camera phone to your OurPictures album (shown at right).
Not cool: The service has no support for photo blogs.
Pricing: Free (25-picture sharing limit, no camera-phone support); $30/year for Deluxe (unlimited picture sharing and camera-phone support)