Let’s talk a bit about photo storage and sharing.
No hassel sharing, courtesy of Google Photos
When the wife and I were deciding how we were going to share photos of our kid in the modern age of Facebook, Instagram, AI learning systems, and Russian Bots, we knew that we didn’t want to throw her face out there for just everyone to see and share. We wanted to at least make sure we had the illusion of control. Sure, Facebook has some ability to control who sees your posts and images and if we ever wanted to we could simply remove those photos, but there’s more to it than just that. What if Claire decides later in life that she doesn’t want to participate in the social media experiment? If we had plastered her all over Facebook, we’d have made that decision for her and that didn’t exactly sit well with us. All power to those who do, we just didn’t feel it was right for us.
So we needed a system we could control that we or others didn’t have to pay for (or much). We’re also lazy, so we didn’t want to have to let everyone know every time a new photo was shared. Google Photos really hit the mark with our needs. BONUS: You can upload and share videos too!
Step 1 – Get the app, it’s worth it. But there’s also a website!
You can get the app on Google Play for Android and the Apple Store for Apple devices and you should probably convince your family to do the same. Luckily, Google is relatively trustworthy (as far as tech companies with access to all your data go) and probably all the Android users already have it installed by default. If you take all your photos on the phone, it is SUPER easy to just upload them straight to a shared album and then everyone the album is shared with (who has the app) will get a notification that new photos have been added. They can like them, they can comment on them, and heck, they can even purchase prints of them on their own via the app (or website). But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Step 2 – Create two albums; A “private” one and a “public” one
This part is a bit optional, obviously, but we created two albums. The private one is just between the wife and I, so only we can upload there. We can put EVERYTHING we take and not have to worry about something weird going public. Let’s face it, you want to store all the memories but sometimes there are memories that you want to keep between the two of you (don’t get dirty here, I’m talking sensitive moments, vulnerable moments, and “mom-baby-specific” moments). In fact, you can set the app to face detect so they automatically see when you take a photo of your kid and the Google Machine makes the decision to upload it to your private album. Yes, this is very Big Brother. But also, yes, so is everything else digital we subject ourselves to.
The second album is the public one and this is what we share with family and friends. Anyone can upload too, so if they take a photo with the kiddo on their own device they can just upload it there to share with everyone. You also have control, so you can remove accidental adds to the album.
Since there is a website for it too, you can upload photos from your fancy-pants camera as well after you do some sweet lightroom / photoshop work.
Step 3 – Adjust some settings and share your public album
Since you can add a text block, I recommend creating one that explains what the album is for. Just something simple so no one misunderstands. Our bullet points boil down to this (but with better words and full sentences):
- Feel free to share the album, download photos, get prints made; the works
- Make sure not to share any of the photos on social media
- If you have photos of our kid to add, make it so!
You’ll have to keep manually moving it to the top as new photos are posted, but it’s not too much work to just check it every so often.
Settings-wise, we have Collaborate, Comments & likes, and Link sharing all set to on. You can adjust to your needs via Options pretty easily.
Also under Options are your sharing options. The easiest way I’ve found is to just share the public link and pass that along to everyone who wants the access. They can then follow the album via the apps/website to their heart’s content. You can also manually add members with their Gmail addresses, which is handy if you A) know everyone’s email readily or B) want to restrict the album to only those specific friends and family.
There are some things I wish Google Photos could do. It would be great to give tiered permissions as far as posting is concerned. Maybe I want the whole world to see my kid, but I only want immediate family and close friends to be able to upload photos to the album. As it stands, its either everyone or no one (except the creator, and even if that case it would just be my login and not the wife’s).
It would also be nice to control which photos can and cannot be ordered for prints and downloaded. Sometimes photographers only give print releases that apply to you. Sometimes photographers require attribution when their work is posed on social media, but you can’t always expect friends and family to go through with that. The burden of that contract falls to you and I’m no lawyer, but there are consequences of breaking those contracts (least of which includes a sad loved one denied photo printing at Walmart, greatest of which includes legal action, yikes!).
In any case, that is how we use Google Photos to share the memories with our little one and especially during this time of separation, it’s great to be able to do this easily. If you’re looking for something to share your photos without plastering them to the world on Facebook or Instagram, I highly recommend Google Photos. I hope it serves you as well as it has us!
Featured Image by La Bella Vita Photography