Photo sharing can often be a hassle: the user finds him or herself with a hard drive full of unorganized photo files, and finds it unrealistic to use email for their photo sharing. To use email, you have to email all the photos you think someone would like to see to everyone who you would to see them. Sending photos by email a user has to worry not only about bandwidth issues, but the fact that not everyone on the receiving ends wants to get a pile of large photos in their inbox. A much better solution is to use a photo sharing website, of which there are many online. A photo sharing website allows you to create a space where you can upload and organizes your photos; you can then direct friends and family to your page where they can view the photos at their leisure.
Some of the best photo sharing sites are free, which is happy news for the hobbyist. Generally sites like flickr.com and shutterfly.com are ad supported. The business model is similar to free email accounts: a certain amount of webspace is granted, free of charge, and in exchange ads spread throughout the sites. Both flickr and shutterfly are amongst the best photo sharing sites, and they place ads within the user's photo albums.
You can also easily find a photo sharing website that is ad free, like smugmug. Of course, if you want the experience of sharing your photos without ads you're going to have to pay for it, but for many people this is a fair trade off. Anyone who shares a large amount of photos may benefit from using a photo sharing website that charges a fee. These sites provide much more space for photo sharing, and anyone who is using a photo sharing site for portfolio purposes would likely benefit from not having ads spread throughout their photos.
There are some other options for photo sharing as well. Many people elect to use a peer to peer application like Qnext, which allows for the private exchange of files. Qnext is useful when dealing with large files that would quickly take up too much space on a traditional photo sharing website. A photo sharing website is ideal for those who simply want their photos to be viewed at screen resolution, but some people want to exchange larger files that can be printed. In this case, it can be easier to use an application like Qnext to exchange high-resolution versions of the photos.
Whatever choice the user makes, it's much easier to share photos these days then it was even a few short years ago. Basically anyone can set up a free account at one of the many photo sharing websites and get started right away. Using a photo sharing website can be a good intermediate step for a photographer who is not quite ready to set up their own website. Before incurring the cost and work involved in setting up a proper website, the aspiring photographer may share their portfolio of work in a fairly professional way on a photo sharing website.
There are many different ways to accomplish photo sharing online, and the choice comes done to a user's particular preference: those that value aesthesis over cost may choose one of the pay photo sharing sites, while those that simply want to show a friend some vacation photos may go for a free site. Either way, there is much choice to have, and the variety of photo sharing sites is likely to increase in the future.