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A private video & photo account for *JUST* the family?

So, baby en route, I need a facility to be able to publish photos and video up to a site that will only allow relatives and a few friends to be able to access it.

Flickr has some good facilities for managing friends & family access, but rather limited video support (i.e. 90 seconds maximum). That’s simply not enough when we’re talking about videos of our little darling.

Do you have any suggestions of a service I should be looking at? Ideally something that’s got iPhone app support so the wife and parental units can easily publish… AND access.

Is it too much to hope that some smart cookie has realised that parents and grand-parents, siblings and friends need a cool way to share this kind of only-relevant-to-family content? And is it too much to hope that updates can be pushed to parents’ iPhones so there’s *nothing* for them to do other than dote over the new arrival’s every burp, chirrup and grin?

Requirements: Photos. Video. Mobile upload support. Looks beautiful (web 2.0ish), smart management of friends/family access.

Any suggestions?

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

28 replies on “A private video & photo account for *JUST* the family?”

http://www.photoshop.com is a good one. It can be configured to be as open or closed as you like. It can even watch designated folders for when new pictures/videos are added on your computer and then auto-updates folders on your photoshop.com account. Free and paid accounts avail.

It has a WinMo, Android and iPhone app that allows for viewing as well as uploading. Free.

Not all video formats are supported – one drawback…

Take a look at http://www.shutterfly.com Ewan. Signed up a while ago and lets me build up my own site, with different albums etc. Nice look and feel. Plus only people you invite and give a key word to can see your content.

Think it also sends out update emails every month or couple of weeks, to those who have access to your photos, letting them know all the new stuff.

Ewan, I think, unavoidably, what you're describing is Facebook. Let's face it, many of your friends and family will be familiar with it, it has apps on all devices, you can lock down your pics and videos to family only, or friends and family and everyone will automatically know where to look.

The problem, though is that you are allowed (theoretically) only the one FB account under your real name, which is probably as it should be, but if you're using it for work networking, it's already wide open to too many people… Dilemma.

To be honest, I've kept Facebook closed to the people I really don't mind seeing pics and video of my kids. I keep them off Twitter. Consequently I have a relatively small list (80 or so) of FB friends, but it's an easy way to ensure that even my mum gets updated vids and pics of the boys. LinkedIn is more for business, in my book.

Obviously this isn't necessarily a useful answer if you're already 'friends' with thousands of people on FB, unless you can narrow it down in terms of distribution of family content. It's just that I've always found that trying other photo and video services results in fragmentation and confused family members who can't remember, or don't understand, where to look for your updates.

Food for thought, maybe.

Mark, I know what you're saying, you're absolutely right about Facebook. It is, unfortunately, ideal. But then again it's entirely useless for the future. I want somewhere that I can share everything for the family. I wouldn't want to open the firehose on my Facebook friends. I need somewhere that my family and close friends can access on-demand. I preferably need an iPhone app that will show a little (5) number next to the application icon, telling my parents (for example) that there are 5 new pictures. I want it to push updates to their iPhone.

I want it to look decent. I want it to be around for decades — so I want to pay for it. It would be good to brand it with a particular family domain name so my parents/siblings don't have to keep trying to remember where the photos/video are.

I don't ONCE ever want the content going on to twitter, google or anywhere. I basically need a private Facebook/Twitter.

You could try Dropbox. Free up to 2Gb. Upload photos and video from the iPhone app, or via desktop (Android app on the way). Photos are automatically built into a nice album (Gallery View, inc. slideshow). Family can access via web browser or have everything automagically synced via the desktop apps. Folders can be shared via a random URL for web access.

Downsides:
* Folders are currently read/write, so if family members accidentally move files rather than copy them out of a folder, then it removes those files for all users who have shared access. Read only folders are on the way.
– Workaround: don't get users to install the desktop app, just tell them to access via web browser
* Upload from iPhone strips all the EXIF data (iPhone API limitation)
* No notifications
– geeky workaround: every folder has an RSS feed. Pass this through Feed My Inbox for email notification when changes are made. This also notifies you if anyone deletes files by accident. You can undelete (rather than re-upload) via the web interface.
* No user comments on photo albums

Oblig. referral link if you're interested 😉
https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTYzNjMzODk

That's another good suggestion, Matt – but as you point out, a bit of a fix, rather than a perfect solution. I'm surprised there doesn't appear to be anything for this!

I do know what you mean James. My father in law just got an iPhone. My mother in law's one is arriving shortly. My mother's been on iPhone for ages, all my family are on it — my dad's getting one in the next few weeks…. even Hetty is on iPhone. So we now need an iPhone app for the baby firehose of photos and video! I think I might need to make my own service… it's ridiculous!

Ok, scratch Dropbox, but I may possibly have cracked it with Phanfare.

http://www.phanfare.com/corp/overview.aspx

Photos? Yep
Video? Yep, including HD.
Permissions for folders? Again, yes.
iPhone app? Looks pretty good. Uploads photos you've taken in the background (not sure about video, but I think so)
Others can contribute photos and videos? Yes
If you upload a HD video from your desktop, is it automatically converted to H.264 so that it can all be viewed on your family member's iPhones? Yes.
People you've allowed access can order prints and various other things to be sent to them? (It's getting a bit like that Churchill dog now) Ooohhh yes.

It looks quite impressive to me. I may be tempted away from Flickr…

Almost, Matt. Almost!

I can't help but feel Phanfare is a bit.. well it's fine, but I need something specifically designed for sharing and displaying content. So the iPhone app needs to be able to take feedback and input from my parents and also enable them to quickly — at a glance — see if there's new content and then browse it. AAAAnd all the other stuff.

Ewan, there's nothing to get! You can add all your family members as subscribers. Then every time you post, they will receive an email *with the full content* in the email. So it's pushed to them everyday. Family sites are a huge part of what we do, and we always believing in posting, and reading by email. Normal people WILL NOT check websites or RSS feeds for updates.

yeah, you can just send someone a posterous url and the password. they don't need an account or anything else to view the site. And they definitely “get it” once there. it's a chronological feed of photos, video, and more. Simple.

Sachin, I'm with you there. I totally buy that user model. However, I want the content in a browsable picasa/flickr style site. And the geek in me wants updates pushed directly to an iPhone app!

That's another nice concept — they've done a lot of good with Ovi Share and it's a pretty neat service, but alas, that's not what I'm looking for either 😐

What about Mobile Industry Review? Set up a private area that your family and friends need to log into.

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