Some people call it social networking. Other people refer to it as online communities. Whatever label you want, this phenomenon seems to have really picked up in steam lately and folks want to share more than just words. They want to connect with other people, sharing their pictures, videos, and other multimedia.
When it comes to photo sharing, Flickr is probably the first site that comes to mind, but the subject of this review — MyShots — is designed to provide a comprehensive community for photographers and other photo enthusiasts.
Free Photography Community
By and large, people visit Flickr and just have a look at the various user’s photo streams. They do say that pictures are worth a thousand words, after all. MyShots does the same thing and you can surf through tons of cool photos, each of which comes with its own page. As with other photo sites, each photo page — like this one — comes with a certain amount of information.
You get a title, description, keywords, and information about the license. Some photos have a standard image license, which more or less means that it is free to use. Others are a little more specific as to what kind of restrictions there are, but most make use of some Creative Commons license. Registered users can rate every photo as well.
But that’s only the tip of the MyShots.com free photo community iceberg.
Going Beyond Flickr
As mentioned, all services on MyShots.com are completely free. They don’t even limit the size of your account, meaning that you can literally upload an unlimited number of photos. Assuming that their website manages to stay alive for a while, it means that MyShots could serve as a decent backup resource for family photos and other pictures that you have taken. I know many people who have decided to do something similar with Flickr.
And MyShots isn’t just for pros either. In fact, in the email that John received, the guy behind MyShots said that the site has an active community of “more than 3000 members — mostly amateur and semi-professional photographers.” They’re just people like you and me; no need to feel intimidated. Even if you’re totally new to photography, there are a handful of photography tutorials for you to enjoy.
These tutorials range from understanding white balance to improving your outdoor photos. Heck, there’s even a PhotoShop tutorial for replacing objects in images. I found the lessons to be terribly short, so I hope that future tutorials are a little more comprehensive while retaining their approachability.
Profiles, Forums, and Blogs
Despite having a relatively clean web 2.0 interface and appearance, MyShots actually has quite a bit going for it in terms of functionality. You get the aforementioned tutorials and limitless account, but there’s a whole online community thing going on too. Each user gets their own profile page for starters, just as they would on popular social networking sites.
Other niceties include an online portfolio, a forums section, a personal message feature, and a friends system, as well as a personal blog for each user to update their photographic progress and shooting opportunities. There are also monthly competitions where “members can win great prizes by submitting their photo on a particular subject that changes every month.” The December competition focuses on crowds pictures, whereas previous contests had macros and serenity themes.
Free to Use, Free to Share
I like the concept behind MyShots and it’s great that they offer a series of features that you may not find on another photography website. So many other sites focus completely on the pictures and not so much on the people behind them. There’s also less of a sense of community on other sites, despite have user profiles and such.
MyShots has done a great job in melding photographic enthusiasm with social networking. I imagine that as the site grows, just as Facebook did, more applications and more interactivity will be added. The foundation is there. Now they just need to grow it. And monetize it.