About web photo journals
Why would anyone want to put their pictures on the Internet?
Page "about" last modified: 9Aug99

Sections on this page:
Staying in touch with loved ones
Expressing oneself
What is a Web Photo Journal?
The whole world is not your target
Journals vs. stacks of photos
Why do people like web photo journals?
Isn't it too hard to make a web site for just a few people to look at?

Related pages:

How was this web site created?

Staying in touch with loved ones  
Modern life constantly distances us from people we want to be close to. Children go off to college. Friends take jobs in other cities. We look for ways to keep these people in our lives and us in theirs. Enter the Internet. It changes everything, from commerce to education. What originally drove the Internet into widespread use? People wanting to stay in touch. One of the main forces behind the growth of email in the home was to communicate with college students.

It seems clear to me that the Internet has emerged as one of the primary ways that people communicate with their friends and loved ones. But email is just the beginning.

The emergence of free or inexpensive web site hosting and easily obtainable digitized versions of the pictures we take are opening up a new area where we can share more than just written descriptions of our lives. We can now share our experiences as if we had the person in the room, explaining what we lived through, and handing them pictures to help them see it through our eyes. In the old days, we would force them to sit through all our slides, interspersed with copious narration. For each friend we had to repeat the story. Today, thanks to the web, each friend can browse our images and skim over our comments, if they so choose, or pore over each photo and savor our every word, all at their own pace on their own time. With the right tools, in little more than the time it takes to give a slide show to one friend, we can put together a journal and share it with them all.

Expressing oneself  
There may be times when we have an experience and want to share it with anybody who will listen. Many people love taking pictures and want to share them and the stories behind them with the world. The web gives us an easy and inexpensive way to do this.

What is a Web Photo Journal?  
A "web photo journal" is a collection of one or more web pages, each with a mixture of text and pictures. Photo journals use the techniques that made the web so popular for commercial sites, such as breaking things up into pages of related items, overviews with links off to details, and links to outside resources like maps and the web sites of tourist destinations.

I am not restricting the term Web Photo Journal to material created only by professional journalists. On the contrary, while professional journalists do make photo journals, they will not make the majority of them any more than professional photographers take the majority of pictures.

The whole world may not be your target  
Unlike most web sites that strive to attract great masses of strangers, many web photo journals are created to be seen by only a few selected individuals, be they family members, participants at a conference, or classmates. Nevertheless, to those individuals, the content is more interesting and dear than almost anything else on the web.

Most of us have seen the "Look at me and my cat" web sites. While these "show yourself to the world" web sites are common, they are not what most of us want all the time. Some people propose marriage by hiring a skywriter to put a message in the sky for all to see. Most of us are more private. The same is true of our Internet communications. We don't recount our problems with a friendship to newsgroups, we just email them to one or two confidants. We don't submit the pictures of our kids to the search engines, we just email a secret URL to our parents and siblings.

Privacy is always a concern. But in reality, it is hard enough getting people you want to visit your web site to look at it. That's why we have banner ads. Why would someone looking for certain types of pictures try to hack into a major web  hosting company's servers to find thousands of personal web sites all with pictures of fun at Disney World or graduation when one click of the mouse takes them to www.sin-city-xxx.com? Do we really think strangers would break into our house to put in cameras in our bedroom to see us changing into pajamas? Do random people climb the trees in our backyard with a telescope to peer into our bathrooms when they can go to www.bathroom-webcams.com? No.

The important thing is to understand what it takes to be private on the Internet. This is not always the obvious thing in a world dominated by instructions on making your web site more popular to strangers, but perfectly doable with a little care.

Journals vs. stacks of photos  
I'd like to distinguish between what I'll call "photo albums" and "photo journals". A photo album is usually just a collection of individual pictures, perhaps with a simple caption for some of them. They are like what you get back when you shoot a roll of film. You look at these pictures one at a time, next, next, next, or you view a gallery of thumbnails and go back and forth from large picture to gallery to picture to gallery. This is sharing photographs. This is not sharing our lives.

A photo journal has pictures that are selected and ordered to tell a story or convey a feeling. The pictures may be cropped to show just what we feel is important. The pictures are mixed with a narrative, either by naming collections of them ("Shots of the new dorm room") or alternating text and photos ("John got so carried away watching the exotic birds near the pool that he fell in! Here he is drying off."). It is this combination of selected images, writing, and organization that make a journal special.

This web site is dedicated to photo journals, not just photo albums.

Why do people like web photo journals?  
My experience is that your friends and relatives love it when you create web photo journals. They will encourage you to make more of them and even start creating their own if they can. I have created photo albums/journals of:
   family get-togethers
   high school sports
   conferences I attended
and more. I then email the URL to my parents and some other relatives or friends. I get comments back how much they loved sharing in what's going on in my life or seeing their pictures if they were there. Here are some sample reactions:

   My mother told me how it reminds her of the closeness of the days when I used to send her videotapes of birthday parties and stuff. In those days we used to take videos and mail them. Copying the 8mm onto VHS and packaging it for mailing, watching it quickly, and then having people remail it to the next relative was a pain. We still take videos, but now we only share them when we visit.
   You can share with more people and take advantage of chance meetings. I know of a person who has found that more and more of his friends care enough about his life to want to see updates on their browser. He even heard of one friend, who moved to a foreign country who was visiting someone else in yet another country. Finding out by happenstance that they shared my friend in common, the first shared a URL with the second and they looked at family pictures halfway around the world.
   People who actually make paper photo albums of events have commented to me how nice it is to travel without having to carry tons of albums. They can just ask friends they visit to fire up their web browsers and give them a tour of whatever pictures they feel are appropriate.
   I'm starting to be asked to make web photo journals as a present after an event, much as people used to ask me to give them copies of my pictures. When I ask if I should bring a film camera or a digital camera, the answer is almost always the digital so I can "...take more pictures and get a web site up quickly."

Isn't it too hard to make a web site for just a few people to look at?  
It used to be a major production to create a simple web site of a few pages with a few dozen pictures. You had to take the pictures, wait for them to be developed, use a digital scanner, size and crop them with an image editor, know how to use an HTML editing system and how to organize a web site, and know how to post it to some space on a server which you were lucky enough to have.

Today it's all changed. You can take pictures with a digital camera and have them in your computer ready to go seconds after you're finished taking them. Even if you use film, most photofinishers can return your pictures with scans on a CD-ROM ready to use. There are programs like Trellix Web (the program I use) that simplify the creation and posting of the web site. Finally, most ISPs provide free space for web hosting with your Internet account, and there are free hosting services if you'll tolerate some ads. Even if you want your own site and domain name, it costs no more than an extra phone line and you'll have enough space to post hundreds or thousands of pictures and text.

I find that I can often have a web site up with just an hour or two of work, often less time than going to the 1-hour photo, dropping off the film, returning to pick them up (with doubles), quickly jotting down some comments on the back, and then running to the mailbox to mail them -- and a whole lot more people can share in the pleasure of seeing them.

How was this web site created?
I used Trellix Web from Trellix Corporation based on my personal experience.