|by Alison Rohrs||Helpful Websites, Innovations, Travel Photography||152|
If postcards just aren't cutting it, several websites now offer a more immediate way to say Wish you were here! Snapfish.com, Flickr.com, and Radar.net each let users instantaneously upload photos for online viewing from their camera phones.
Plus, the mobile services at all three sites are free (although regular texting and browsing charges from you phone company still apply).
Like Flickr, Radar will assign you a personal e-mail address when you sign up online. When you take a picture from your phone, you can send a photo message to the given address, and the pictures will automatically load onto your account. Snapfish has a universal e-mail account (firstname.lastname@example.org), which recognizes your phone number from the information in your web account, and loads the photos to a default album from there.
Your friends' viewing capabilities vary, though. At Snapfish, no one can see your images until you invite them. If you want to invite someone from you phone, you have to go to m.snapfish.com and share invitations to e-mail addresses or phone numbers.
A photo message to Flickr will allow you upload shots to your default settings, which you choose online in advance. Setting options include public (where anyone can view them), private (where only you can view them), and private to your friends/family (where you can specify contacts who can view them).
With Radar, you have an established group of friends with access to your photos, so you don't need to invite someone to view a specific photo. (Although you can restrict certain albums to certain friend groups or set your default to a particular album on your computer, similar to Flickr.) Radar recently released a new alert system on the home page of your account to let you know about friend requests and new photos and comments.
Flickr and Radar also allow users to comment on each photo from any Web-browser. However, Snapfish only allows comments at the end of an album and on a computer.
Radar founder John Poisson keeps finding new uses for his site on trips: "I tell people where I'm going now by taking a picture of my boarding pass. On there is everything my friends need to know about my trip. By the time I get off the plane, I usually have a text or a comment from a friend in the area saying, 'Let's get drinks tonight.'"
While not everyone will communicate through pictures as much as Poisson, these features still offer a cool way to show your office-mates the exact shade of blue of the Caribbean Sea while they're back in their cubicles—and to hear their thoughts about you when the photo is posted.