Friday, March 30, 2007

Giving Shutterfly A Chance

I love digital photography. I have always thought and continue to think that buying, shooting with, and developing film, and then purchasing, creating, and storing photo albums is a huge waste of time, money, and space. In fact, I manually scanned about two thousand of my family's photo albums. And to this day, I don't think anyone in my family has opened up an actual album, but they love flipping through pictures on their computers. Apart from the ease of access, I personally like fact that I can manipulate my pictures without affecting the originals. And backing them up, publishing them, or sending them to friends is a breeze.

When I first bought a digital camera in 1996, I figured I would keep everything on my computer until digital printing became dirt cheap. Well, the price for digital prints has come down significantly thanks to places like Shutterfly,,, and the like. But you know what? It still doesn't make me want to have a physical album of all of my pictures. I suppose I prefer the 1's and 0's.

However, what these sites really enable me to do is manipulate my pictures and make large-format prints for my walls. Two days ago I decided to order one matte 20" x 30" print of a picture I took of the Wharf at Santa Cruz, CA. I received my print in the mail today and I admit I am VERY impressed with the print's quality. I am most impressed because I took the picture using my Sony point-and-shoot digital camera, not my newer Canon dSLR. I can't imagine what a print using a better lens will look like.

What I am really hoping for is a service that allows me to upload my pictures and have them printed on a large-format, light resistant transparency, sort of like a movie poster you'd see inside the movie theater in a light box. I would love to have my own print on a transparency and place that on a window. Albeit a poor-man's stained glass window--it would still look great.

On a side note, the lawyer in me wonders how businesses like Shutterfly deal with copyright infringement liability. Someone could easily copy a picture from the web and upload that to Shutterfly, and Shutterfly wouldn't know the difference.


Anonymous said...

If you're a serious photographer, is the only way to go for mass uploads - it's unlimited storage, allows others (including you, at a later date) to download high-res versions, and its got a much less dumbed-down UI than shutterfly. I was an old shutterfly loyalist, but I've recently switched.

(c) infringement - isn't it pretty straight DMCA safe harbor? they technically dont look at any of the pictures they print (all automated), but i guess they have to be careful about their marketing materials and splash pages.

i'm not sure what you mean by transparency though - like an overhead?

A.H. Rajani said...

i tried and signed up for a free 2 week trial. i am very impressed with their user interface, but I am not all that happy with their annual fees, which amount to probably more than i would spend in a year to get photos.

while i like the fact that there a lot of tools available on the website, which minimize a consumer's need to buy and use software on their home computers, i still like to do all of the editing myself on photoshop. so really my ideal exposure to any website would be to log on, upload a photo, select a size, and click buy.

i don't know if having all my photos backed up by the site is all that important to me (though I think smugmug's feature that lets you sell your own prints is a great boon to anyone getting into photography).

to talk advantage of a lot of free offers, i ended up getting free prints at snapfish and kodak's online print store. i ordered one larger print from smugmug, so i'm anxious ot see what it looks like.

in terms of transparencies, what i really want is to print a photograph only transparent film. this is the same transparent material that teachers used on overhead projectors. so once that picture is printed, i can place that on a sunny window pane where light will pass though during the day illuminating the image. it looks quite nice, though i'd had to print them on my own inkjet, so the print quality is mediocre at best.