Photo Sharing Sites

Technology Description

Photo sharing sites allow users to upload and distribute digital images in a shared environment. Each site provides different services for users to organize and manage their own content, and content contributed by other users. Some sites also act as online applications, allowing users to edit and otherwise manipulate their images. Common features include:

  • Tagging images with keywords
  • Adding comments or notes to images
  • RSS feeds for new content

There are a number of photo sharing sites available on the Web, each with its own specific feature set. These sites include:

Photo sharing sites are used for organizing and distributing content to family and friends, but, depending on the site, they may be used for other purposes as well. These include ordering photographic prints, creating print publications, hosting images for linking to other websites, and backing up digital image files.

Archival Applications

Photo sharing sites have been used by archivists primarily as an outreach tool, making digital images of collection materials available to the public. In some cases, making images available through these sites also allows increased interaction with the public. Possible uses include:

  • Sharing digital images with the public
  • Pushing out newly available digital content to interested users
  • Gathering descriptive metadata about images from the community
  • Engaging in a dialogue with users about image content and associated archival materials

Case Studies in Archival Applications

Tiah Edmunson-Morton, “Talking and Tagging: Using CONTENTdm & Flickr in the Oregon State University Archives”


Some institutions are beginning to participate in photo sharing communities. Below is a sampling of some of these projects. For an extended list, check our implementation listing at

If you are developing a project in a photo sharing community and would like to appear in the list, send a bookmark in using the tag for:interactivearchivist.


LeFever, Lee. “Online Photo Sharing in Plain English.” Common Craft. (accessed Feb. 20, 2009).

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. “For the Common Good: The Library of Congress Flickr Pilot Project.” Library of Congress. (accessed Feb. 20, 2009).

Matusiak, Krystyna K. “Towards User-Centered Indexing in Digital Image Collections.” OCLC Systems & Services 22, no. 4 (2006), (accessed Feb. 20, 2009).

Flickr. “The Commons on Flickr.” Flickr. (accessed Feb. 20, 2009).

Wikipedia. “Photo sharing.” Wikimedia Foundation. (accessed Feb. 20, 2009).