11 Best Ways to Share Photos with Friends, Family or Clients

share-photos

Are your computer and phone full of photos that you want to show your friends and family?

In this guide, you’ll discover 11 of the best ways to share your photos privately in 2021.

(We’ll also include some photo sharing options for professional photographers to share photos with clients.)

Sharing photos is an important part of our society. Thankfully, technology makes it easy for us!

What’s more, many of the options discussed below also provide unlimited photo storage, making them a great backup solution.

Let’s take a closer look at the top options available right now.

6 Best Ways to Share Photos Privately with Friends & Family

Whether you need to share thousands of photos or just the occasional photo album, here are some of the easiest photo-sharing site options available.

Note that while several of them cost nothing or offer free photo storage or free accounts, you can usually pay more for premium features such as unlimited storage, group members, password-protected photo galleries, video files and even photo editing features.

1. Facebook

Screenshot of Facebook gallery interface

Facebook doesn’t need a big introduction as most of us know it – it’s one of the biggest social networks. Among the many things you can do on it is to post pictures and turn them into albums.

You can choose to share these albums with everyone, only your contacts, a sub-set of your contacts or only you. This is really handy because, with the same account, you can still grant different access to your photos.

For example, you can have an album that you share with family members, another one for your close friends, another one just for the people who attended the party you photographed last night, and so on.

You can upload as many photos as you want and create as many albums as you need, and the people who can see the photos can also download them. However, image quality isn’t great since all photos get heavily compressed by Facebook’s algorithm.

As you probably know, a Facebook account is free – although it does have several concerns regarding the use of your data.

That could be a different type of price you pay when you use Facebook – but if you already use it either for fun or for business, then it’s an easy way to share photos with your loved ones.

2. Amazon Photos

Amazon photos interface for sharing images

With Amazon Photos, you get 5GB of free photo storage in the cloud if you have a regular account. From there, you can order prints and photo books for yourself or send them to friends and family at very accessible prices.

Amazon Prime members get unlimited space for their photos and 5GB for videos. Plus, you can invite up to five members of your family using the Family Vault for them to see, upload, and download shared images.

There’s an useful image recognition feature that uses AI to help you organize and search for your photos of certain places and items without the need to tag them. You can also name the people in your photos if you want to be able to search them by name.

Within Amazon Photos, you can also edit your images.

Keep in mind that Amazon Photos can’t be used with a professional photography business – its photo-sharing services are intended for friends and family.

To open an account with Amazon is free, and it gives you the 5GB photo storage I mentioned above. If you want to become a Prime member, there’s a $119 annual fee or $12,99 monthly fee.

3. Google Photos 

Google Photos interface for sharing photos with family and friends

You can set up Google Photos to regularly back up the photos and videos from your phone. You can then choose the quality you want to save on the backup.

This used to make a difference between unlimited and limited space, however, from June 2021, all your backups will use the storage from your Google account, and there won’t be any more free unlimited space for any quality.

A Google account gives you 15GB of free storage in Google Drive that’s shared crossed all Google services, not just for Photos.

Unfortunately, upgrading the storage in Google Drive is only available in some countries – you can check the availability and price range in your country here.

One of the best things about Google photos is automatic management. It features excellent face recognition, it groups your photos from the same location, it creates animated GIFs with photos taken in burst mode, etc. All of these features can be disabled if you prefer not to use them, of course.

You can share photos and albums on a conversation in Google Photos to a single person or a group. If you want to share them with someone who isn’t in your contacts, you can generate a link to send them.

If you use Google Drive or have the Google Photos app already, you’ll find it very easy to use. It’s also a popular free way to organize your photos across all your desktop and mobile devices.

4. Flickr 

 

Despite the uprise of other social media giants, Flickr remains one of the favorite photo-sharing places for occasional and serious photographers alike.

This is largely due to the possibility of choosing the licensing for the photos you share – you can add a creative commons license or keep it as all rights reserved – a form of image copyright.

Flickr provides public and private storage so that you can set the privacy of your photos to only you, family and friends or public – this can be managed through groups.

People who have access to your photos can also download them. The great thing about Flickr is the large and interactive community of likeminded photographers.

With a free account, you have a limit of 1000 photos. With a Pro subscription, you get unlimited storage and stats on the views of individual files. You can also make commercial activity in your account – such as link your profile to the shopping cart of your website.

The cost for Flickr Pro is $6,99 per month. Aside from the upgrades on your Flickr account, these memberships entitle you to several discounts and perks with partner websites.

For example, you get a 50% off the first year of a SmugMug subscription, 2 complimentary months on Adobe Photography plan, 35% off on Capture One, etc.

Make sure you check the active offers at the time of your upgrade as these may vary.

5. Dropbox

Dropbox interface for sharing files

Dropbox is a cloud storage service. Since it’s not dedicated to photography, the free version only gives you 2GB of storage – which might be enough for text documents, but it’s not much for photos.

The positive side of it is that it supports all types of files.

Dropbox is very easy to use because it works like the file browser of your computer. You can create folders and drag and drop the photos to manage them. Each folder can have different sharing options, so you can decide who has access to what files.

You can sync your Dropbox across devices manually or set it to auto mode – the free account has a limit of three devices.

You can choose to keep your files on the cloud or download them to your computer. Thanks to selective sync, you can combine both and choose which folders you want on your hard drive and which ones only on your online account.

To upgrade your Dropbox account, you can choose between different plans. A Plus membership gives you 2TB of storage space for $9.99 per month, but it’s still for one user, while the Family membership allows up to 6 users.

6. Apple Photos

Apple Photos solution for photo storage

Apple Photos is a free iOS software for photo storage and sharing – as such, you can only use it on Apple devices (macOS and iOS).

It’s a well-rounded, easy-to-use program that allows you to add photos, organize them manually or with smart albums and share them – it even has some editing tools built into it.

A neat touch is the ability to make movies with your photos and videos to share with friends and family members using Memories. Everything can be synced across devices if you use iCloud Photos.

One of my favorite features is that you can set it up to upload photos in full resolution to the cloud while keeping an optimized version on your device.

All Apple users get 5GB of storage in iCloud, but you can upgrade it with different plans according to your needs from $0.99/month for 50GB up to 2TB for $9,99/month.

File sharing in general is simple with Apple devices, with numerous options to do so. If you’re photo sharing in a coffee shop with a friend, you may choose to use Air drop, for example.

With Apple Photos, your photo storage is really only limited to the size of your computer’s hard drive – as long as you decide that you don’t need everything synced to iCloud, of course.

Fortunately, modern photo editing laptops have very large HDD and SSD internal storage, and external hard drives have come down in price a lot.

5 Best Ways to Share Photos Privately with Clients

Professional photographers need to find the best way to share photos without losing quality to deliver the best possible service to their clients.

Other premium features might include unlimited photo storage, downloadable high-resolution photos, watermarking of digital files, options to print photos, order photo prints, shareable link creation, full-resolution cloud storage services for large files, options to deliver images, etc.

Let’s have a closer look at some of the top paid services to send photos to clients.

1. ShootProof

ShootProof gallery interface for sharing photos with clients

ShootProof is more than a simple photo-sharing website. It’s a well-rounded workspace designed to manage your photography business.

ShootProof allows you to have password and PIN protected galleries with purchasing options if you need to share photos with multiple clients.

Alternatively, if you want to sell fine-art work, you can set up and customize your photo gallery for digital downloads with different sizes, prices and watermark permissions.

To sell physical photos, you can offer high-quality prints through any of the professional print labs partnered with ShootProof.

With Shootproof, you can draft your own photography contracts or buy attorney-crafted templates, collect the client’s signature and handle your invoices from your workspace. Also, you can give different privileges to each member of your team.

Starting at $9 per month, you can get the 1,500 Photo Plan with unlimited galleries, digital contracts, invoicing, branding and the possibility to sell your work.

If your business is thriving, you can upgrade your plan to one with 5000 photos, 25,000 photos, or even an Unlimited Photos plan for $45/month.

All plans allow you to save if your use a yearly plan. There’s also a 14-day free trial available without a credit card.

If you’re looking for the best ways to share photos with clients, ShootProof makes everything really easy, and the option of unlimited photo storage is ideal for high volume shooters.

2. SmugMug

Smugmug screenshot of interface

SmugMug is a portfolio builder with professional features that’s easy to use and helps you to share images with total control over who can see them and download them.

It offers some beautiful, streamlined templates that you can easily customize using drag and drop features. Each gallery can be protected with a password.

You have unlimited image storage to upload full-resolution photos without concern. Then, SmugMug will use these high-quality files to print any product that your customers buy with its partner print labs.

Worried about protecting your images or having a slow-running website? Even if you upload in full resolution, SmugMug will automatically make up to 12 display copies to optimize your site – you can set up the maximum display size in the Gallery Settings.

You can disable right-click and download buttons for further protection and choose if you want to apply a watermark.

You can upload pictures from your hard drive, your Flickr and Dropbox accounts, or sync with Lightroom to simplify your workflow.

There are four plans from Basic to Pro with a price range of $9 to $51 per month.

Here’s a comparison of SmugMug vs Shootproof.

3. Format

Format website builder user interface

 

Format is a solution that allows you to build a professional portfolio, run a photography business, open a marketplace, or use it as cloud photo storage.

Its beautiful templates provide you with an easy way to share photos online and sell them worldwide. It’s also an easy way to store and share your photos thanks to its organization tools that allow you to manage your files and download images from the cloud when you need them.

You can connect a Format website to your own domain name and attract new clients using SEO tools and building a blog.

The Portfolio plans are perfect to showcase and share images, while the Workflow plans offer you everything you need to promote your business and establish yourself as a professional photographer.

There’s a 14-day free trial for you to decide which plan is best for you – the starting price is $15/month billed annually.

4. Squarespace

 

Squarespace is one of the most popular website builders for photographers and creatives due to its many templates that can be searched by tags, allowing you to find the best designs for your type of work and marketing strategy.

You can share and sell your photos with an eye-catching portfolio and drive more clients, thanks to the website analytics and SEO tools.

To share insight into your work and expertise, you can build an attractive Squarespace blog and even offer premium content through a special members area.

The biggest feature missing from Squarespace is a password-protected client-proofing gallery. This may or may not be a problem for you, depending on the type of business you want to run and how you decide to share photos.

There are four plans starting from $15 per month ($11 per month if you pay annually) up to the most complete plan for $42 per month ($36 per month if you pay annually)

5. Zenfolio

Zenfolio user interface

If you’re looking for a website for photo storage and sharing with tools for your photography business, you can consider Zenfolio.

Their different plans allow you to start building your online presence for a small fee and upgrade as the needs of your business grow.

With the Portfolio plan ($5/mo), you can easily upload photos to the gallery templates and create a beautiful portfolio in no time. The design is clean and minimal with a certain degree of customization, such as changing the layout, colors and branding.

To sell your images, you need to upgrade your plan to an Advanced ($32/mo), Pro ($22/mo), or Portfolio Plus ($12/mo) account. Then, you can allow digital downloads or sell your photos printed in over 2000 available products with auto-fulfilment from partner labs.

Finally, with the Pro and Advanced plans, you get password-protected galleries to share images with your clients easily and safely.

Whether you’re looking for a file-sharing solution for a few photos or thousands of images in a gallery, Zenfolio is a near solution that also has a free version to get you started.

Final Words

It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional photographer or you just like to take pictures of family and friends – sharing photos is an important part of the process.

That’s why there are many different solutions to fit the multiple needs each of us has.

I think these are the best ones on the market right now – I hope you find them helpful. If you have any questions or other suggestions, please leave them in the comments section.

Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.

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