Ever since I started taking digital photos, my need for developing or printing photos has diminished greatly. Friends and family see my photos over the Internet in my web album. In this article I will give you the basics to start your own.

What is a web album?

In case you are not familiar with the concept, a web album is a digital photo album on the Internet that others can view with their browser software. Viewers only need an Internet connection to gain access to your shared photos, saving you the printing or developing costs.

Types of web albums

Digital photography has become wildly popular and the number of web albums seem to be endless. Web album offerings can be categorized in the following general groups:

  • Free web albums offered by major digital photo developing companies
  • Free web albums offered by other companies
  • Fee-based web albums
  • Custom web albums hosted on your own web site

In this article I will be addressing the first option because this is the easiest and biggest time saver for most individuals.

Why use a free web album at developing services?

Major digital photo developing companies offer free web albums as a service to their customers, even those who have not yet made a purchase. I see several benefits in this service for the typical photographer:

  • Web album is free, in most cases with the only string attached that you purchase something in 12 months.
  • Major online developing services have the money and resources to build an easy-to-use web album.
  • You determine who to invite to view your album
  • Once your photos are in your web album, you can easily order prints and other products, if needed. Even if you prefer printing your own photos, you may occasionally need products that cannot be produced at home or when you don't have time to print.
  • Others with whom you shared your web album with can also order prints, at their own expense.
  • High quality, chemically-developed prints are available less expensively than you can print at home.

Free web album features

Recently I review the web album offerings at the following online developing services: Kodak EasyShare Gallery, PhotoWorks, and Snapfish. While they offer very similar services, PhotoWorks has the best web album.

Here are the significant features:

  • Easiest to learn and use
  • Friends not required to log in or create an account to view your photos
  • Attractive invitation emailed to friends, asking them to view your album
  • Captions can be added to entire album and each photo
  • Click on medium image for an even larger version
  • Auto advance feature to create slide show
  • Basic photo editing available for your pictures in your album (rotate; red eye removal; cropping; brightness; convert to B&W, sepia, and others)
  • Friends can order prints and other photo items from your shared album
  • Unlimited amount of storage

If you have not yet shared your photos online because you thought it was too complex or expensive, give this free method a try and have fresh photos for your friends minutes after you take them.