I’d like to have my pictures online, and I’d be willing to pay for service. Here’s what I want; I don’t think any of the Cloud Photo services provide it, but I’d be happy to hear I’m wrong. [Update: There are lots of promising tools on offer.]

For feedback & suggestions see below.

yellow rosebud

An online photo.

Google gets music right · I use iTunes to organize music and listen to it on the big high-end stereo at home; the majority losslessly encoded. I use Google Music when I’m in automobiles and airplanes and hotel rooms. It works great; when I get new music, whether on a shiny disk or digital download, I import it into iTunes and Gmusic auto-magically loads it into the cloud before too long.

Since I’m a deranged audiophile, I insist on CD-or-better quality for the big system at home, whenever possible. Now, Gmusic only uploads the compressed MP3 versions, but I don’t care. I’m listening to that stuff in high-ambient-noise environments or in whatever cheesy speakers a hotel room lets me plug my mobile into. And Gmusic has all sorts of nifty features for making playlists and discovering new music.

(Notes: First, I don’t actually like iTunes, but I can live with it. Second, I’m sure Gmusic has competition that’s about as good.)

bar scene in Los Gatos

An online photo.

For pictures · What I want is more or less the photographic equivalent of Gmusic:

  1. I want to go on editing in Lightroom, and working from raw images for maximum quality, on my own computer.

  2. I want all my images, in their edited form, online. JPEG is fine; that quality (as in, for example, the ones in this article) exceeds the quality of most screens I’m apt to be showing them on.

  3. I want the uploading to happen silently and automatically.

  4. I want the metadata (tagging, geolocation) uploaded too.

  5. I don’t particularly want to edit pix on anything but my own computer; my MacBook Pro is beefy enough and always along on my trips.

  6. I’d like the online service to have really slick slide-show tools that know all about lots of different screen sizes and resolutions and just make the pictures look great on whatever I’m going to use to show them, without me having to think about it.

Suggestions from the Net · I published this on a Saturday and by Sunday morning the suggestions were rolling in. I’ll keep updating this.

  1. Tom Chwojko-Frank points out that SmugMug has a Lightroom plugin that claims to Just Work. Wow, SmugMug; they were first a thing when I was at Sun, ten years back. We loved ’em corporately because they were on our boxes; I loved ’em personally because their pitch was “Like Flickr only better, but you have to pay for it.” Looks like they’re on AWS now; they’re following me around.

  2. Paul Guinnessy points out the Picturelife Lightroom Plug-in. Never heard of ’em but Paul says they’re good.

  3. Then there’s the very slick-looking Folder Publisher by Jeffrey Friedl. Someone somewhere pointed out that once you’ve got the pix out of Lightroom you can auto-bridge to Flickr, but I lost the suggestion.

  4. Aravind Krishnaswamy, via John Nack, has details on Integrating Lightroom with Google Photos using Friedl’s exporter.

Note: None of these are really backup services because the originals are in camera Raw formats plus Lightroom sidecar files. These are publishing/sharing services. Also, it dawns on me that a huge proportion of my photos, those of my kids and family, are non-public. So I’ll have to see how well that’s covered.

My plans · I’m torn, to be honest. The Friedl plug-in, which puts a layer of indirection between me and the Cloud, feels like my kind of thing. But I think like I owe SmugMug a try, they’ve been contributing to my paycheck for a long time.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Jeremy Dunck (May 30 2015, at 11:01)

There are major differences in play: music largely is an artifact, you have a copy, the original is elsewhere, you can get it again.

Your photos are originals, you can't get it again. You need original equality backup on images, not music. You might be savvy enough to manage that on your own, but most aren't, and the cloud removes a headache. So, I agree an option to fit your need would be good, but it's no wonder that difference exists.

As a traveling audiophile, invest in some in-ear monitors for those high-ambient or cheesy-hotel-speaker situations. :)


From: Gordon Haff (May 30 2015, at 11:40)

Lightroom + jfriedl plug-in + Flickr get pretty close for me with a couple of caveats. (Though I'm sure you've considered this option.)

- It's not automatic (but I'm OK with that because it's just a drag and drop at the end of an editing session)

- I do wish Flickr's slide show options were better. So much of the time I find it's easier to just go to Flickr when I want to do a slide show for someone but it doesn't have the flexible modes I wish it had.


From: Paul Guinnessy (May 30 2015, at 12:51)

I recommend picturelife It does exactly what you ask: pictures are loaded in the background seamlessly. You can work on whatever tools you want, and it has some nice display features as well.

Its about $120-$150 per year for unlimited uploads. There have cheaper options in which you can get additional storage space for doing things like share a picture or get people to sign up on a link.


I'm actually amazed Google, Yahoo or Apple didn't buy them out a couple of years ago (now they have comparable features but not comparable privacy. They were bought out by a video storage company but they seem very hands off which is good).


From: Dan Finucane (May 30 2015, at 13:38)

smugmug.com is very good


From: Brian Reischl (May 30 2015, at 15:02)

You might want to try SmugMug. They tend to aim at the pro and high-end consumer markets. They do have a Lightroom plugin, but I have not used it so I can't say how good or bad it is.

You can find them at SmugMug.com, or if you don't mind referral links...



From: Dan (May 30 2015, at 16:45)



From: Marvin (Jun 06 2015, at 19:27)

Why a third party? Ever heard of Creative Cloud? Ok you need to pay at least 9.99$ every month but you will get latest Photoshop&Lightroom and have unlimited upload (very good JPG quality) and you can view photos on your Android/iOS device or webbrowser and you will even have two way sync for editing with the lightroom app.



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