My Mac and iPhoto has collected about 15,000 photos since I got married a few years ago. About 1,000 of the photos were from our engagement, wedding, and first year of marriage.
The other 14,000 photos came about after the first three children. I sent hundreds and hundreds of photos via email to friends, family, neighbors, and the unsuspecting. You know. To share.
It’s the sharing that’s both easy and challenging. For a few years I shared digital photos via email. Until one day I was visiting a relative and found they’d had their PC hard drive crash and all the photos were lost. Ouch.
For awhile after that I tried Flickr which is a relatively simple way to share digital photos with others without having to worry about photos getting lost or destroyed or clogging up the email inbox.
The main problem I have with Flickr is not the price. It’s mostly free. It’s also mostly ugly photo galleries. Apple’s MobileMe has a great looking photo galleries but costs another $99 a year.
Over the past year I’ve searched the Mac web to find a few handy utilities which help to build web page photo galleries that look better than Flickr but cost less than MobileMe. There are plenty.
One that I have finally mastered is the Gallery Designer from Koingo (the same folks that publish twenty eleven other Mac utilities).
Gallery Designer is a Mac (and Windows) utility which lets you take your digital photos and create an attractive web photo gallery with different backgrounds, different layouts, and so on.
What can you do with the photo galleries? Bascially, two things. The first is to create a web photo gallery and upload it to your personal web site, assuming you have one. They’re awfully cheap these days.
But running your own web site can be a bit complicated, though it’s much easier for relatives, friends, neighbors to visit the site (assuming they have internet access beyond dial up) than to create a separate collection of your digital photos.
What if you don’t want to create and manage a web site? What good is Gallery Designer then? Well, you can still create the photo galleries but save them on CDs or DVDs and send to relatives. That way they have the physical disk for safe storage.
Gallery Designer makes photo gallery designing pretty much point and click. Create different page colors, different sized thumbnails or full image sizes, change the style, create or exchange page templates with other users.
It’s all drag and drop and point and click. Gallery Designer creates valid HTML code, so the resulting gallery looks good in nearly any modern browser. Even better, you can go beyond photos.
Add music files, movie clips, and a variety of image or video file formats. Gallery Designer builds the pages, generates the thumbnails and links, and will even change the image sizes on the fly.
All you have to do is add a name to each photo, add a description for each photo, decide how you want a page or gallery to look, and then simply point and click.
Uh oh. I said simply, didn’t I? And point and click? Therein lies my only beef with Gallery Designer and it’s a problem that shows up in other Koingo software.
The point and click options are everywhere. It’s as if every button, every option, every feature was assigned to each M & M in the large family sized bag, then scattered all over the table.
In other words, there’s lots to select, lots to click, and not at all intuitive, especially since it’s a Mac application. Granted, a web photo gallery needs to look elegant, and elegance often covers the sophistication and complexity of what makes it elegant.
Gallery Designer is complicated, especially so for the novice Mac would-be gallery designer. It can get confusing very quickly, so you’ll have to be patient.
Once you’ve figured out the basics to create a multiple page, multiple photo gallery, then you can go back and tweak it with the right background colors, font sizes and colors, and layout.
Some of the navigation buttons included in Gallery Designer are decidedly last century. However, all things considered, GD does plenty for not much money.
The finished galleries can be uploaded to a web site, or burned to a CD to share with friends and family.
How do you share your photos with your friends, family members, neighbors, or co-workers? Totally email? Flickr or counterpart? Or, something else? Share your experience in the Comments section below.