capsule review

Store Photos Online--Without Losing Your Rights to Them--With Free OpenPhoto

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder OpenPhoto

    PCWorld Rating

    Host your own photos online, using Dropbox or Amazon S3, for free with OpenPhoto.

Photos present a challenge because we want to share them and also retain the rights to them. That's where OpenPhoto comes in. This free, open-source project makes photos easy to upload, tag and control by hosting in your Dropbox account or Amazon S3.

OpenPhoto interface screenshot
OpenPhoto won't let you upload images by placing them in Dropbox, but its browser-based upload interface is slick.
OpenPhoto may seem redundant because you can already host your photos on Dropbox and share them via Dropbox's built-in album feature. But it isn't. That's because OpenPhoto can be used with other storage providers and customized at will, features that make it appealing.

Uploading photos via the Web interface is as easy as drag-and-drop. Batch upload is supported, so I simply dropped a few photos onto my browser window and they uploaded quickly. OpenPhoto lets you tag, title, and describe every photo, and you can also mark it private or public and pick a license for it. Public photos show up on your gallery at http://yourname.openphoto.me. Users browsing your photos can leave comments, but must log in to do so.

OpenPhoto image screenshot
OpenPhoto uses a large image format, and is free of ads and banners.
OpenPhoto's public gallery is nice, but you can't customize or theme it for now. Photos are shown at a generous width of 870 pixels, but unlike Flickr, you can't view them in the original size (or any other size for that matter). The cream-colored background is easy on the eyes, but there is no way to darken it and make the photo pop out.

OpenPhoto's true promise is that it is not just a service, but an open-source application as well. Anyone is welcome to take the source code (hosted on Github) and customize it or add any missing features.

OpenPhoto is a young project; Pricing hasn’t been introduced, and customization options are minimal. There's no end-user documentation at the moment, either. This tripped me up when I linked OpenPhoto to my Dropbox account, and then copied some photos into Dropbox. I waited and waited, until I realized I must upload the photos from within OpenPhoto's Web interface for the service to recognize them.

OpenPhoto gallery screenshot
OpenPhoto's gallery display works well with both vertical and horizontal images.
OpenPhoto currently favors enthusiasts and developers. While there is no end-user documentation, there are clear instructions showing how to install the service on your own hardware. You don't have to install OpenPhoto to use it. OpenPhoto.me is the project's public-facing front-end, and you can use it to host your own images for free at the moment. Paid plans will be introduced later, but having open access to the project's source code ensures that it will always remain essentially free.

OpenPhoto shows great promise. If you're a photographer looking to host your photos with Dropbox or Amazon S3 and display them in a lovely public gallery, you can use the service right now. And with a bit of technical know-how, you could even host OpenPhoto itself on your own hardware, making for a slick, self-hosted solution.

Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download use this Web-based software.

--Erez Zukerman

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Host your own photos online, using Dropbox or Amazon S3, for free with OpenPhoto.

    Pros

    • Simple interface
    • Open-source

    Cons

    • No end user documentation yet
    • Can't upload by placing files in Dropbox
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