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When you take photos for a living, the last thing you need is to have your local storage or your personal laptop crash and take all your hard-worked shots down with it. Every professional photographer worth their salt knows the importance of having backups of his work and photo hosting sites provide a cost-effective way of keeping files secure. These image hosting sites not only provide an efficient backup and storage system for your files but also allow you to share them with close contacts and clients.

Take photos with your camera

What is image hosting?

For the uninitiated, image hosting sites act as a platform for sharing images for free. When you upload an image, your image is considered to be “hosted” in this platform so that you and other users of the platform can access, download, and share it from any device and internet connection. Dedicated image hosting sites typically allow both amateur and professional photographers to upload their content to their professional websites or portfolios, but higher quality photos - based on both popularity and use can even make money through uploading their work to these image hosting sites as a sideline. These free image hosting sites use an advanced feature called content distribution network or CDN, that speeds up image loading time and offer additional bandwidth to distribute images online without compromising their site performance with a heavy amount of media being housed and moved at any given time.

With the wide range of choices for image hosting sites available today, how do you choose the right platform? Here are a few key features to look out for when choosing from the best photo hosting sites.

1. The right fit for your specific needs

Free online image hosting sites can take on several different forms depending on your requirements. The first step towards choosing the right platform is to identify what kind of services you need from an image hosting website. For instance, some photographers need a straightforward storage and file-sharing solution to allow them to manage projects and make outputs accessible to their clients. Others, however, may need free image hosting sites to start off an online portfolio.

Most creatives use both free image hosting sites such as Google Photos or Imgur for coordinating with their current clients as well as a website builder like Strikingly to host previous projects for potential clients. If you’re not quite an amateur but not yet a professional, try creating both a portfolio of free to use photos on these free image hosting sites and a professional portfolio for your client and personal work and reference both sites to each other. This way, your portfolio or resume website can act as both a calling card for your more professional services and your free images becomes an extension of how you contribute to the creative field, and either platform can lead to the other.

2. Ability to share files seamlessly and securely

Your choice from the top image hosting sites also depends on how you want to share your images. For an online portfolio, you probably don’t want to share all the photos you have taken since day 1 but you will want to publish your best work. Do you want to allot space for a private collection that is available only to a close group of friends and family? Or do you want to share a collection of your work with a community of creatives and photographers for networking purposes?

Some platforms may be great for one or two of these purposes but not for all. For instance, Flickr is great for participating in a community of photographers but may not be suitable for sharing files with clients because they may be more familiar with a shared drive like Google Photos or Dropbox. Flickr as an online portfolio may not offer a lot of flexibility in terms of creating a branded space as compared to a website builder such as Strikingly. You can read more about specific image hosting platforms with a quick look at their specific features and uses to help you get a feel of their additional functionality that can support your specific industry.

3. More than enough storage space for your growing file library

When you use image hosting sites free of charge, limited storage space is a usual caveat. Some platforms may start you off with a decent amount of space for your files but you may need to upgrade to a paid version as your archive grows over time. There are also those that provide unlimited storage from the get go but the quality may be compromised. You need to give a close evaluation of your current archive for guidance on how much online storage you’re going to need before committing to a platform and a plan. For starters, your image hosting website’s first basic paid plan should be able to accommodate your current files and give you a bit of room to grow.

Chances are, you’ve already got quite the library if you’re looking to avail of image hosting services. If you have the resources to spare, you can opt to try most platforms’ first basic paid plan - if they don’t give you a free 30-day trial already, to test out their functionality and performance in supporting your website that’s existing or in the process of improving.

4. Quality of photos should be topnotch

The best free photo hosting sites work to store and display your photos in the best possible way. If you’re looking for image hosting services for the purpose of creating an online portfolio, you have to find a platform that will not compress your files so much that it affects the quality of your images when you host them on your main website. If you have a vast work and client history, you’ll need a smarter storage solution that won’t distort or lessen the quality of your output should you need both edited and raw images for your future use.

Remember, photographers aren’t the only ones who use image hosting sites - for the free images you’d like to share, these are accessed by fellow creatives in different niches for a variety of reasons, and a good image hosting site should elevate your work, not deter your chances of getting recognized because of a bad user experience of seeing poor quality images.

5. Easy to use

Finally, photo hosting sites should allow you to get set up easily. Gone are the days that you’re required to learn a whole lot of coding and backend development to make a space for yourself on the internet. Find a hosting platform that’s user-friendly with remarkable customer service. Check reviews and pay attention to the navigation experience when you use the site. If it takes too long or you feel like you’re jumping through hoops to start hosting, consider the next platform.

Curating your photos

If these are a lot for you to consider, then here’s a quick guide and introduction to our top three image hosting platforms you can use. These platforms offer different payment plans and start you off for free to get a feel for what they can offer you. There are other image hosting sites for your consideration, but if you’ve only got time for one article, here are our recommendations:

1. Strikingly

Whether you’re building a personal blog to chronicle your life’s work and memories or a professional portfolio to attract new clients, Strikingly has all the tools you need to bring your ideas to life. It features best-in-class website templates that let you create your own image hosting site for all your still shots. Get a portfolio website up in minutes (and for free) with numerous customization options that are ideal for startups and individuals who are new to web design. One good thing about having your own website to house your photos is you are basically taking that first step towards building a solid online presence. When people search for you on the internet, they will find a professional-looking space that presents your best work.

2. Google Photos

Google Photos offers a combined free storage of 15GB shared with Google Drive and Gmail. For aspiring photographers, this is more than enough to start. It automatically syncs your files with other Google accounts so retrieval is a breeze. The platform also has nifty tools for creating slide presentations, collages and animations, as well as organization tools that let you group your files according to location, date or even people. Google Photos is quite intuitive as well so that the more you use this free picture hosting site, the more it learns about your habits and gets even more effective in sorting your files for you.

3. Imgur

You might have come across Imgur hosted photos and GIFs if you spend a lot of time on Reddit. If you’re looking for a place where you can share funny GIFs and other similar content, this is one of the photo hosting sites free of charge that you can try. You don’t have to create a free account to publish photos but you will want one if you want to create captions, upload images via email or store your image files on the site.

Strikingly allows you to build your own website with a variety of partnered image hosting sites to support any of your content-heavy portfolios without drop time. Design your portfolio in minutes without worrying about the technical details. All you need to do is select a website template and add your own personal touch through the intuitive website editor. There’s no coding required so you can focus on building great content for your potential clients.