I’m still experimenting with online photo galleries, and becoming thoroughly frustrated with my options. At the moment, here is how the two front runners compare;
- Relational/Dynamic view – I love that photos are basically all in one big folder, and that you can assign them to dynamic sets, so that the original photo (with accompanying data) can appear in multiple locations, rather than copying and pasting a photo into multiple albums.
- Licensing – Flickr offers a simple way to license every photo, allowing Creative Commons licenses or Copyrights to be attached to photos. You can have a default license, so that every photo uploaded has the default license, or change the license on a photo-by-photo basis.
- Community – By design, Flickr is like a social network for photos; it exists as a photo sharing community. And while you don’t have to participate in groups, or have contacts, it is nice to be able to easily share photos, or have your work critiqued by others.
- Limited Customization – There is very little you can do to Flickr to personalize it, and make it your own. You can select from one of 4 different views (6 if you have a Pro account), and that’s about it. No colors or themes at all.
- Loss of Control – Since Flickr hosts the images, you can’t tweak the software or add plug-ins to make it do what you want. You are also at the mercy of Flickr, should they change any of their policies or Terms of Service.
- Restrictions – Free accounts have lots of restrictions (bandwidth, number of sets, file size, images shown in archives) but even Pro accounts have some restrictions. The main restriction is file size (currently 10MB per photo for Pro accounts), although who’s to say that Flickr won’t change the annual fee or restrictions?
- Censorship – From what I’ve read thus far, Flickr tends to be a bit over-zealous with censorship issues. A user’s comments, photos and entire account can be deleted, with little recourse, if someone flags a comment or photo as “questionable”.
- Complete Control – Since you host it yourself, you are in absolute control. You want all your thumbnails square? No Problem. You want to crop your own thumbnails, rather than have the default? Easy.
- Customization – There are loads of themes for Gallery2, and various color packs to change the color scheme. But if you don’t like those options, you can create your own theme, too.
- Plug-ins – On the nature of customization, if there is something you want accomplished in Gallery that can’t be done out of the box, someone may have already written a plug-in to accomplish what you want. Or, you could write your own plug-in.
- Strictly Hierarchical Storage – Gallery was built to mimic a photo album, and so photos are stored in a series of nested albums. Photos can show up in multiple spots, but only as links to the original or as replicas, which won’t share any comments.
- Lack of Community – Since you host Gallery yourself, you’re not really part of a community of users. This can go either way, though; I wouldn’t really gain much “community” from Flickr, since few of my friends and family use Flickr, or even know what it is. And do I want random strangers commenting on my photos?
In the end, I simply can’t go with Flickr. Yes they have Dynamic/Relational sets, but I just don’t trust them with my photos. Before, I might have considered it, but with the censorship controversy I’ve been reading about, there is no way I’d entrust my photos to them. I would much prefer to run my own photo gallery and know I have complete control over it, even if it doesn’t do everything I want. This isn’t to say I’ll stay with Gallery2 forever, but at the moment it looks to be the best solution for my needs.