For most events, parties, family gatherings, and vacations, there isn’t just one designated photographer in charge of taking and sharing all the pictures. It’s more likely that photos from various people will end up sprinkled across online galleries, posted to social media sites, or circulated via e-mail.
Instead of each person uploading personal albums to a separate site or figuring out who’s on Facebook and who’s not, try creating a collaborative album online. Here are five resources for carrying on the togetherness online, even after the party is over.
If you use Apple’s MobileMe service ($99 per year), you already have the power to create collaborative albums. Best of all, you’re the only one who needs a MobileMe account—you can allow anyone you want to add photos once you’ve created the album. To create a collaborative album from iPhoto, go to the album’s Info pane and click Change Settings. In the resulting pop-up window, check the boxes under Allow For Uploading Of Photos Via Web Browser, and Adding Of Photos Via Email.
To limit access to the album, you can specify exactly who can see and add images to it. Create a group name and password, and then select that group from the Album Viewable By drop-down menu. Share the name, password, and URL with your group. To get the word out, click the Tell A Friend button in the album’s Info pane, and iPhoto will compose an e-mail with all the info they need to contribute.
If you shoot photos with your iPhone and use the MobileMe Gallery app, you can choose who sees the album and then allow viewers to upload the awesome shots that you didn’t get from their browser at home.
If you don’t use MobileMe and paying $99 per year for a syncing service doesn’t jibe with your budget, you can use other ways to get your people to add photos to a single album. Yogile is a site that greatly simplifies the album-creation process.
After you create a free account, Yogile prompts you to create an album password and an album-specific URL. To upload pictures, just send them via e-mail to your album’s custom e-mail address and include the album password in the subject line. The photos will be automatically uploaded. Getting others to contribute to your project is as easy as giving them the e-mail address and the password to your album (for the privacy-minded, the album password is not your overall Yogile gallery password). This site is definitely fast and easy to use, and, unlike with Flikr and Picasa, the default setting for your albums is Private—you have to actively seek out the option to make your album public. The downside is that you can upload only 100MB per month, unless you pay $25 per year for an upgraded account.
Group Story and Mixbook
Group Story and Mixbook are collaborative-album sites that are focused on creating a scrapbook-like finished product. For a more controlled online scrapbooking experience, use Group Story, which lets you and your friends add pictures or scrapbooked pages to an album through premade templates. Neither site requires that you have Flash installed to create book pages, unlike the popular Scrapblog.com site. There’s an easy-to-find Invite Contributors icon that lets you send an e-mail invite to your friends.
Both of these sites are specifically focused on album teamwork and allow you to publish your scrapbook as an actual printed book. Mixbook is pretty intent on getting you to purchase your scrapbook as a book; you have to choose a “book style” when you begin, even if you have no intent of ordering a tangible scrapbook.
Group Story’s books start at $16 and Mixbook’s start at about $5.
A new Website called Keepsy allows you to invite friends via Twitter or Facebook to collaborate on a printed album. If they’re not social networkers, your friends and family can still add images by sending them to the album’s dedicated e-mail address. As a twist, contributors can all pitch in to pay for a printed album—a great idea for a group birthday, wedding, or graduation gift.
To get started, pick a theme for your album and upload a few starter photos. Each page design can be customized with custom frames, background designs, clip art, text, and doodles. Instagram users can make an album from all old Instagram pictures and captions. Creating the online album is free, and printed albums cost $30 and up for an 8-by-10-inch book containing up to 30 pages.