Can I Have a Copy of that Picture?

When I first started blogging, I think one of the most exciting things for me was having the ability to share all the photos I took in my classroom.  I knew that my students' parents would enjoy seeing them as much as I had enjoyed capturing those moments.  I was a slideshow master, embedding them in blog posts whenever I could.  Parents would sometimes ask me for a copy of one of the photos and I would have to get their email and remember to send it to them when I had a moment.  Not a huge chore, until you have a big class event and everyone wants you to email them a photo. 

There have also been several times over the years where a parent forgot their camera at a special event, or missed the shot they wanted.  I always pointed them to the other parents standing around taking photos, but I'm sure they felt unsure approaching others parents they didn't know. 

Over the last few years many teachers have asked me, "Isn't there a place online where my parents and I can upload all of our class photos together so everyone can share?"  My answer was no for a few reasons.  First, in order to use photos from a class everyone in the photo has to have a digital release (per our district).  Second, in the interest of proactive safety, I encourage teachers not to post photos of students posed standing alone (which is a very popular shot among teachers) and instead have them use candid shots or group shots of class activities.  Third, if you have a "pool" of photos for your class you won't be able to control if the other parents follow the first and second reasons... 

This year, a few teachers have tried creating accounts with stores like Walgreens and giving all of the parents the username and password to upload and download from the account without publishing them online.  This is a good way around our problems, but not very efficient.  Parents would have to know to keep checking the account and some parents may not want to use Walgreens for their photo needs. 

Late this fall, I was excited to come across a solution to our problem on my favorite photo website, Shutterfly. They have a service for photo sharing called shared sites

Shutterfly shared sites allows you to upload your photos in the privacy of your account, create albums to organize your photos by event or however you like and then share the photos or albums you choose to share.  To try shared sites, I created a site at Christmas time for my family.  I picked which photos I wanted to be accessible when pulling up the site and used that unique url to send out with my Christmas cards.  Shared sites can be made public or private.  For this purpose, the site was public so that my family members didn't have to log in to view my photos.  Not only were my relatives able to see which photos I put on the card, but they could peruse my summer vacation photos and whatever else they wanted to flip through!

After the holidays, I approached my child's teachers and shared that I thought this would be a great way to share classroom photos with the parents and for parents to share with each other.  One of the teachers immediately got excited because she already used shutterfly for her photos.  She went back to her classroom and created a private share site that day!  It can be done in less than 10 minutes, by clicking "create a site" under share and it will walk you though the steps to make your site using your photos in shutterfly.

Our class site is private. That way parents can upload whatever photos they wish to share.  When the site is created, parents can be emailed an invitation to join the site and members can either order prints on shutterfly or just as easily download photos to a flash drive.  I really like that feature, because I don't print all of my photos.  Everytime there is an update to the site, members receive an email to view the new photos there. 

It really is as easy as it sounds and we haven't really found any downsides! Do you have a favorite way to share photos in your classroom privately?


BrookeR said...

I used Shutterfly for my classroom photos as well! I loved the fact that I could password protect it. That way, I could put a link to it on my classroom website and feel comfortable. At the end of the year, I would create a photobook with the pictures I had uploaded during the year. I always ordered a photobook for myself and I made it available to parents too if they were interested.

Tom said...

I post pics to my class blog at waivers r on file for whole class. also use flickr and snapfish. Don't see why we are still worried about security. I think parents would feel more secure seeing that their student was learning in a caring environment than whatever security issue others think may occur with posting pics. Of course permission has to be given! Also, never post name with picture or use last names. Great blog! I liked reading your thoughts!

You go Shutterfly queen -- we love our class photographer!!MM