One of the absolutely coolest things about digital photography and the Internet is that you can instantly share you photos with people all over the world. Photo-sharing communities are a great place to show off your best images and to share photos and ideas with like-minded people that you'd otherwise never meet. Of all the photo-community sites (just do a Google search and you'll find lots of them), I think that Flickr is far and away the best and most fun site. The interface is incredibly simple to use and unless you plan on posting more than a few hundred images, the service is entirely free. You can even use their online image-editing tools (called Picnic) to improve your images.
And don't think for a moment that no one will see your photos just because there are millions there--in fact, you could get downright famous. More than 13,000 people, for example, have viewed my Photoshop-created image of a blue rose. (And yes, the number one question I get is if I colored it or not!) Think about that: 13,000 people have viewed my photo--amazing. There are tricks you can use to increase the number of views and comments you get too: be sure to title and caption all of your photos, for example. And also, add as many "tags" as you can think of so that people searching for specific subjects will find your photos easily. For this photo, for instance, I used tags that included: "rose, blue, blue rose, Photoshop CS2, infrared and curves adjustment." (I created the image using the Photoshop curves adjustment, so for Photoshop users, those tags will be relevant.)
You can post photos on Flickr in galleries or "sets" (collections of similiar images) that are entirely your own, or you can join community theme-based "groups" and share your images with a larger audience. Some groups have requirements (that you have to comment on a certain number of other photographers' photos, for instance), but I prefer to join groups that are much less restrictive and that have no requirements. This is supposed to be fun, not a chore. But all groups post their requirements and if you like commenting on others' images, there's no reason not to join those groups--getting positive comments can be a great creative boost.
You can buy a "Pro" account on Flickr for just $25 a year that allows you to post an unlimited number of photos--an excellent holiday gift for the photographer in your family.
3 days ago