Why OpenPhoto will defeat Picasa and Flickr


OpenPhoto on AndroidIf you have been living in a cave for the past few months then you would have missed the success of OpenPhoto which started as a Kickstarter project to liberate your photos and is now a full fledged Mozilla WebFWD project with a team of seasoned developers* that are leveraging their expertise and the contributions of their community to compete with the likes of Flickr and Picasa.

But lets look at a few reasons why OpenPhoto will defeat Picasa and Flickr as the Photo Management platform of choice for many users…


OpenPhoto is Free Open Source Software that anyone can download at no cost and run on their own servers or could hack on if they so choose to make a custom install or even contribute some code with a pull request. Currently Google’s Picasa and Yahoo’s Flickr lack the same openness that OpenPhoto aims to offer by making its source code available and further OpenPhoto also aims to allow more freedom in how you manage your photos.


Mobile Ready

OpenPhoto recently launched their iOS App and has a Android app in testing right now and both seem to work quite flawlessly and will allow you to manage and upload photos on the go whether your using the OpenPhoto.me hosted platform or running OpenPhoto on your own server, VPS or shared hosting.

Import from Anywhere

OpenPhoto aims to allow you to scour the internet and import all your photos from Flickr, Picasa, Facebook and more so you can manage them all in one place.

You decide where to store photos

OpenPhoto gives you the freedom to store photos wherever you want right now OpenPhoto supports Amazon S3 and Dropbox but support for other storage services is on the roadmap and you can contribute a module with a simple pull request.

With all of the above reasons in mind and all the features that are being added its going to be hard to find any reason not to use OpenPhoto. I guess my biggest question is how many of my readers are currently running OpenPhoto? Have you used one of the AMI’s on Amazon Web Services or perhaps done a Install on your Ubuntu Server?


*Note:  I’m currently a member of the OpenPhoto Team






  1. OliWarner says

    I think the significant downside to doing it yourself (beside the complexity) is the economics. Photos (and video even moreso) are big. Whether you’re a professional or you’re just a click-happy-amateur, storing them (and transferring them around, on S3) gets pretty expensive when you have to foot the bill and that’s something that’s going to get worse as the pixel counts rocket as they are.
    I have about 80GB of photos mostly from the last two years taken on my ~13MPixel D5000. The new D3200 is 24MP. Canons have been in the 20-something-MPs for a while. The semi-pro and pro models are in the 30s and 40s. In short if I upgrade in a year (as I most likely will) to ~30MP and keep that for another three years, I’m going to need 400GB to archive that 6 year block.
    On Flickr I pay $45 every two years and they handle all that for me. I can upload as much as I like, my photos can be viewed limitless times and I pay no more. If I wanted to host all this on Amazon, in three years time, I would be paying somewhere in the region of $50 per month. A number that would keep rising and rising as I added more photos. God help me if I were popular because then I’d be paying a lot more in transfer fees too. And good lord, let’s not even think about Dropbox… The cheapest way of doing it would be the team account ($795pa for 1TB and a further $125pa for each 200GB chunk over that). Google Drive is much closer to being feasible but storing 400GB still costs $20 per month.
    I don’t think it’s monetarily viable to marry DIY hosting (S3, Drive, DropBox, etc) with a non-paying frontend like OpenPhoto. Flickr pays the bills from a mix of overselling (their pricing is based on speculative usage levels) and advertisement. They’re in a position to market themselves to advertisers in a way that individuals can’t do yet.
    Note: Of course my arguments don’t apply to people who store very little but I’m not one of those people.

    • says

       @OliWarner Flickr is really not looking like the most viable option considering the turmoil in Yahoo. You can get free space from many provides… I get 50GB from Box.net for life totally free so my cost for hosting images would be nil considering I also have web hosting and can then host the front-end myself at no additional cost. 
      I do understand that there is right now a barrier for DIY-Photographers who may be inexpereinced at deploying a platform like this but we definitely are working to make deploying on shared hosting and other platforms very straightforward and simplified.

      • OliWarner says

         @bkerensa Yes and that free space will suit all the people I’m not talking about… At least for a little while.
        The rest of us who are shutter-happy can burn through 50GB in a weekend with a D800. Each RAW+JPEG shot is 50-70MB so you don’t even have to try. You could even do it with a mincey little D3200 (~40MB per shot). And, no, I don’t think 1000 shots in a weekend is an exaggeration – I’ve taken (and kept) more in one day.
        So what’s the solution? I start a hundred accounts with Box.net (etc) and come up with a crazy tracking system so I can remember what is where? If everybody relies on free storage the sustainability of that storage is not good. People seem to accept that these sites are just going to host our rubbish indefinitely but as time trolls on, it’s going to become clear that storage requires money.
        And I personally don’t think Flickr has much to worry about. It’s a community built around great photographers so it has the audience for marketing straight away. Layer on top the other unobtrusive pay streams for them (licensing, printing, etc) as well as the direct subscription, and I’d be shocked if they’re not meeting their costs. If Yahoo is broken up, I’d fully expect Flickr to live on.
        The second half of that is my point. OpenPhoto doesn’t pay for itself like [I suspect] Flickr does. I’m not saying it’s not great, just that I think it’ll struggle to be taken seriously when the freely hosted services (Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, et alii) seem to be sitting on much firmer ground.

        • says

          I think it takes a lot of faith to upload thousands upon thousands of photos/memories to a service that now becomes responsible for ‘storing’ them. The big services seem to be on firm ground now but internet beachfront erodes quickly. My favorite feature of OpenPhoto is the security it gives me that I will always retain the accessibility of my photos. With Dropbox, they are replicated locally if I so choose. Thats comforting.

  2. OliWarner says

    Oh and your media-hosting CDN (NetDNA from what I can see) seems to be down. It makes loading this page excruciatingly slow.

  3. says

    Yeah the cost of storage is one reason why openphoto is probably a non-starter for me too, but there are other things too.
    Purely by virtue of its age, Flickr has great integration in almost every app you can imagine. I have a wordpress plugin showing my galleries, I have a Lightroom plugin making uploads easy, the list goes on. No doubt all of the same things are possible for openphoto, but they aren’t there yet. I sort of hope you have modelled the openphoto API on the Flickr API because that would allow very easy rewriting of existing Flickr API tools, maybe just changing a URL.
    The other thing is the social aspect of Flickr. I can go to Flickr and see interesting things, see everything tagged with something, see who liked my photos and leave comments on others. Is this possible with openphoto? I ask because I went to the openphoto site and saw screenshots of what openphoto looked like. No links to actual openphoto hosted sites, no gallery of the most popular photos that day. With openphoto sites potentially hosted anywhere, how are aggregators meant to pull together data like that?