A man, his cameras, and the glaciers…

Now available on Netflix is the story of a nature photographer who wanted to record the receding glaciers. It’s partly a technological tale, too, because he thought, when he started in 2008, that he would be able to buy time-lapse cameras off the shelf that would gather photos over several years. For anyone who has ever tried to implement a big project, Chasing Ice is heartbreaking on two levels: the first is when the team returns to find that the equipment didn’t work as expected. I won’t spoil too much of the movie, but, if you’re interested in the planet and love beautiful photos, see Chasing Ice. http://www.chasingice.com/

Share dotPhoto with your own email system.

The nice thing about your own email system is that you have already established your own groups of family, co-workers, and other organizations. Now it’s easy to share your dotPhoto albums and pictures through your own email system. Here’s how: http://dotphoto.freshdesk.com/solution/categories/93155/folders/152747/articles/106274-how-can-i-share-dotphoto-albums-and-photos-with-my-own-email-

Share your dotPhoto albums on Facebook!

Facebook is a great place to share, but dotPhoto is an easy way to organize, print and backup your photos. Now we’ve made it easy to upload your photos to dotPhoto and share them to Facebook. Just click into any dotPhoto album and use the Facebook share icon in the upper right. Here’s a step-by-step FAQ: http://dotphoto.freshdesk.com/solution/articles/106273-how-can-i-share-my-dotphoto-photos-to-facebook-

Free shipping on orders over $25

dotPhoto now provides free shipping on orders over $25, which is a lower “free ship” point than most of our competitors who require a $30 purchase. We’ve also lowered prices on First Class, 2-Day and Overnight shipping by the entire amount of economy shipping, so your shipping costs are lower across the board. For complete info, see http://dotphoto.freshdesk.com/support/solutions/articles/104135-how-does-dotphoto-free-shipping-work-

Annie Leibowitz on the future of photography

Leibowitz notes that, as things move faster, we long for the stills. In beautiful and awful moments, we remember the remarkable images. There will always be room for great photographers who can capture those images. We might add that, as technology progresses, great photography becomes less about having a technological edge than having an “eye.” Equipment like Lytro can focus after the fact and cameras are capturing streams of images everywhere. The great photographers may eventually be those with a talent for picking the most remarkable images from the stream like a miner panning for gold.


dotPhoto Public Search Box Works Again

dotPhoto search is online as of June 17, 2003 with a Google search that quickly searches through public albums. (Private albums will not appear in the search.)

After logging into your dotPhoto account, use the search box in the bar near the top of the page.

Add quotation marks to search for a specific string of words such as “bmw charity ride”.

Searching within a specific group of albums has not yet been updated, but the public search is an improvement and can find specific names if you use quotes. For instance, “John Sweet”.

To find professional photos, you can also use the search on http://www.dotphotopro.com

FTP uploads work again

Many dotPhoto members — especially newspapers and professional photographers — asked us to fix the FTP upload function, which has been unusable since earlier this year. FTP is working again.  It is a very easy way to get your photos into your dotPhoto account.  Here’s now:

First, you’ll need to an FTP client application on your computer (you may already have one; if not, see below).  In your FTP client, just set the hostname to ftp.dotphoto.com.  The username and password will be the same as you use on dotPhoto.

You can use just about any FTP package.  If you don’t already have one, we recommend the following:

After you have uploaded your files to dotPhoto, you’ll see a new album in your account called “FTP.”  You can rename it as desired, by clicking on the Organize button on the left and then choosing Album Settings.

Father’s Day Gifts

The new Mahogany Desk Organizer is just in time for Father’s Day.  I like the ability to add text on many of the designs — or to choose one of the Father’s Day designs.


For more customization, choose one of the other Design groups and pick a design that enables you to insert text or drag more than one photo over.

OrganizerPreviewAt $19.99, the Mahogany Desktop Organizer is 30% off.  We’ve also put the popular 11 oz white mug on sale at just $4.99!

Under new, old management…

On April 19, 2013, DP Operating Company, Inc. acquired dotPhoto from MyPhotoAlbum, Inc.  Having watched dotPhoto for some time, we thought we could do a much better job of providing value to customers.  We decided to acquire the business and begin the long process of turning it back into a market leader.  So here we are.

Our immediate plans are to fix what’s broken, improve customer service, and gather customer feedback.  After that, we’ll update the design, improve existing services and add new ones.  There are some pretty exciting plans in the works, but we’ll save the details for later!

Founded in 1999, dotPhoto was one of the Internet’s first photo sites.  Glenn was in fact a co-founder.  However, due to several rounds of corporate musical chairs, he hasn’t been involved with the company for some time.  dotPhoto was the first to offer a customizable web site, the first to enable pros to sell photos, and the first to offer a mobile application.  We look forward to returning to dotPhoto’s tradition of innovation.

Got ideas or concerns?

Please send them to Glenn at gpaul (at) dotphoto.com.  If you’d like to talk, please send an email with your phone and the best time to call you.  We actually will call you.

Order processing is back up.

During the ownership transition, credit card processing was down for several days, but is operating now.  We deeply apologize for the delay, and we will rebate shipping on any orders placed with expedited shipping.

Your photos are safe.

Pixels are cheap, but memories are priceless.  As such, we will continue to maintain your photos on dotPhoto. Going forward, we will even maintain archives of abandoned accounts on ancillary storage so that they can be retrieved years later when you come back for them.

We feel privileged to work with dotPhoto’s many loyal members, and we look forward to contributing to a beautiful imaging experience.

Glenn Paul & David Duquette

Speeding up dotPhoto

There are ways to speed up dotPhoto, and there are issues that are systemic on the web. 

We think a lot about speed, and an independent company monitors dotPhoto’s load speed. Among photo companies, which as a group have fairly “heavy” pages because of the graphics, dotPhoto is in the top 5% for speed.  dotPhoto senses your connection speed and sometimes changes the way we serve up data;  for instance, if you have a dial-up connection, we’ll serve smaller images to the dotPhoto Show so that they get there faster. If your broadband connection speed is very slow, you may see the same behavior when watching dotPhoto Shows.

If your overall access seems slow, you might want to test your connection speed, which you can do at the free “Speakeasy” link below.  dotPhoto servers are in Sunnyvale, California, so the San Francisco server is the best choice to test.


Upon completion of the test, you see a screen like this:

On my home cable connection, I’m getting 595 Kbps on download and 347 Kbps on upload to the San Francisco test server.  Verizon’s new fiber optic FIOS service claims up to 10 Mbps download (their web site says 5, but their operator says 10MB) and 2 Mbps for $29.95 per month for the first year, which would be a savings for me, so I may try it out. FIOS is not available everywhere, but you can learn more by clicking here for FIOS link.

Certain times of day are slower for cable users and especially for DSL users.  For instance, right after dinner can be slower because everyone is doing homework, shopping or reading home email. Unforeseen events can also slow down the entire Internet.  I remember being frustrated in my attempt to connect one evening only to discover that much of the world was trying to connect to the Mars Rover.

You can also speed up dotPhoto by changing your album displays to a list display, and by reducing the number of thumbnails that you display in an album.  Since most of us look mainly at our most recent photos, these are easy changes to live with

Changing your album display to a list display

On the album page, click on this icon.  You can change back to thumbnails by clicking the same spot again:

Reducing the number of thumbnails displayed in albums

A congressman recently explained the Internet as “a series of tubes,” which has been a source of amusement for late-night comics. It’s true, though, that the tubes get slower when they have more data to push through — and that’s what happens to an album page when more thumbnails are displayed. You can see as few as 3 photos per row on 3 rows or 9 images per page, and as many as 6 photos per row and 12 rows or 72 images per page. You’ll see 9 photos much faster than 72, which can take a moment or two load. 

To reduce the number of thumbnails displayed, click on “Display Settings” and then set the numbers of images per row and rows per pages that are comfortable for you:

Hefty photo crystals make substantial gifts and awards

dotPhoto recently added laser-engraved photo crystals that make unique gifts and awards.

Photo crystals are as permanent as anything you can you make with a photo.
The crystals are very dense and heavy with the largest weighing easily as much as a brick. If you ever wanted to put a photo in a time capsule, a photo crystal would be the technique because the image is preserved inside the crystal – not etched into the surface.  Unlike paper, sculpture or just about any other image preservation technique I can imagine, photo crystals encase the image inside the medium.

How I tried to break a photo crystal
We don’t recommend this, but, as a test for this blog, I dropped the small photo crystal from successively higher heights onto the thin office carpet that covers our concrete slab. I started by pushing it off my desk – not an unlikely event in the life of a photo crystal.  No marks or breaks.  Then waist height, face height, and holding it over my head.  I tried each of these in several “drop” positions with no damage, and surmise that you would have to hit a photo crystal hard with a hammer to break it, or drop it directly onto a cement floor – both less likely events.

Photo crystals can be used for special occasions and also as customized, memorable awards.
Each crystal is packaged in a luxurious blue box with a magnetic clasp and a royal blue cloth interior.  The weight in your hand makes the item feel, well, weighty.  Somehow, the permanence and heft of photo crystals makes them seem important. 

They’re pure.
Light playing off and through a photo crystal adds another dimension of beauty that has fascinated people throughout history.  These crystals have beveled edges that make them a pleasure to handle and display.  You can set them up with your own lighting, or purchase a battery-powered pedestal (3 AAAs) that bathes your crystal with light from beneath with four light emitting diodes.

Since it’s hard to represent this kind of product online, I put together this little dotPhoto Show with images of crystals captured on my office window sill. 

Click here to watch a dotPhoto Show about photo crystals.

Click here to purchase photo crystals.

Uploading & editing music for dotPhoto Shows

dotPhoto has licensed about 300 songs that are already in the dotPhoto Show, and many of these are quite interesting.  Of course, you choose your own images so you’ll want your own music, too.     

You can find interesting sounds and music on the Internet, edit songs for length, add sounds together and upload the resulting MP3s to your dotPhoto Shows to add colorful, evocative music.  Here’s how… 

Changing music in a dotPhoto Show
If you are the owner of a dotPhoto Show, you can click on “Edit” at the top of the screen, and then choose “Music” from the button bar.  (Guests will not see the Edit option.) You can sample and select music in 22 categories, or upload your own music by clicking on the “Upload Music” button:

Finding MP3 files
Vista has a good search routine that finds interesting MP3 files.  You may be pleasantly surprised by the breadth of audio files available to add character to your show.

Click here to search for MP3 files at Alta Vista 

Editing and combining sound filesWavePad offers a nice sound editing package that you can download free and use without significant limitations.  The web site notes, “We make WavePad free in the hope you will like it so much you will be tempted to upgrade to WavePad Masters Edition.”  (dotPhoto has no business relationship with WavePad.) 

Click here to download WavePad MP3 Editing Software FREE! 

WavePad is great for picking out the parts of a sound file that you really want to use, and also for combining multiple files to give some variety to a show. Since most dotPhoto Shows are only 30 to 40 photos, it’s a waste to upload an entire song, and it also takes longer to load and play each song.  With WavePad, I was able to cut a four minute song down to 58 seconds – and down from 4.6 MB to 824 K – that the dotPhoto Show automatically loops   

The dotPhoto Show is an Adobe Flash tool that plays MP3s, so, in order to get your sound file to play at the correct speed, you must follow these instructions: 

1.  In WavePad, convert the sample rate of the file to 22050:


2. Save your MP3 with these settings:

When you’re ready to upload your music, click on the “Upload Music” button in the dotPhoto Show, find your MP3 file and start the upload.

Back in the dotPhoto Show, hit the “Refresh” button, find your new file, and select it as the music for your dotPhoto Show!

More on creating a School Yearbook: planning for the Year

Thanks to Penelope in the Philippines for prompting us for more ideas about making a great high school yearbook.

Perhaps the best yearbook ever made would be one that involves everyone in your school collaboratively capturing images and choosing the very best images at the end of the year. Digital technologies make this a real possibility, but putting together a great yearbook still requires planning.

We sympathize with planning problem – just last night we held a party to commemorate a new Exclaim web site – http://www.adobeshowcase.com/ – and, as we were thanking everyone with bottles of photo-labeled wine and photo-engraved crystals, we looked around and realized that no one had a camera. I had even left my cell phone in the car.

So much for the perfect world, but you can enlist students and staff at your school in the beginning of the year so that your yearbook task at the end will be more productive and enjoyable.

Organize early
Assemble a committee (or multiple committees!) to design the yearbook and submit ideas. Committees are great for yacking about ideas and generating enthusiasm, which is exactly what you want at the beginning of the yearbook process. The main goal at your first yearbook committee meeting is to encourage everyone to think about the yearbook throughout the year. Your design ideas will probably change completely by year end, and, if your committee is like most committees, only the true believers will remain by then. However, your first meeting will kick off the process of taking pictures to document your year

You have one over-riding goal: make sure people are taking pictures at every event so you have plenty of representative and high-quality images to choose from later. Camera phones and the popularity of small digital cameras will help your students take multiple images of everything. Don’t underestimate camera phones either: the new two and three megapixel phones take excellent, printable photos, and VGA and 1.3 megapixel images can be used for small illustrations or in photo collages to describe an event or tell a story.

What to depict
A yearbook is all about people. When you flip through it years from now, you’ll want to remember people as they were. You will peer at those pictures and look for clues about the real nature of the people you used to see every day. With that in mind, focus on the people and look for genuine, natural images.

Don’t worry about “quality.”
This may surprise your students. Most people don’t really enjoy looking at posed, perfectly-framed shots of students smiling on queue. Those images lack authentic emotion and don’t tell us much about the people depicted. Instead, go for quantity: you will find among a sequence of images one or two good, interesting photos. You can always crop and manipulate the image later, too.

Assign a member of every team, club and class to be the official photographer for that organization. (That’s one more thing they can put on their college resume: “Team Photographer.”) Their job is not only to get pictures of that activity, but to get a photo of everyone who participated. At the end of the year, you want to make sure that you don’t leave anyone out. Sure, you’ll have their official photo, but a great yearbook will also have pictures of people doing interesting things.

Obscure facts
What would people find interesting about your school or the people in it? Do you have a student who lives another life outside of school as a concert pianist? Do you have students who volunteer at something that is not related to the school? Was your school founded by gypsies? Get pictures! Your readers will enjoy learning things that they didn’t know about your school. Start the Obscure Committee!

Surprising Images and Candid Shots
Human interest first.
Encourage an eye for the unusual. Candid shots are best and most interesting. I like surprised shots where the subject is looking directly into the camera – a face looking directly out from the page, a face that is candid and not composed for the perfect picture, is arresting and interesting. We make contact through our eyes.

Show movement: dancers dancing, runners running, teachers gesticulating. Even portraits can be made more interesting with motion. At the end of a portrait session, photographer Philippe Halsman would often ask distinguished people for one special picture: would they jump for him? Many did, and the images were often more interesting that the official portraits…

Jumping Duke and Duchess of Windsor 

Jumping Nixon      Jumping Marilyn Monroe

Core values
What are your school’s core values?
Do you have a motto? Are you a military academy or religious school? Does your school simply reflect the values of your community? Try to depict and capture these values. The nature of your institution may change over the years, and you will want to remember its character while you were there.

Every school has landmarks, but your school’s truly important geography may not be where you imagine it.
Sure, you want a picture of the main building, but you might also want to depict the water tower, the basement, the teacher’s lounge, a favorite pinball machine – the places that people frequent and might really want to remember. Encourage your Landmark Committee to get the out-of-the-way places as well as your Tower of Learning.

The Seasons
People and landscapes change over the year. Tell that story with sequences of different haircuts and of landscapes in wind, rain, snow and sunshine. Establish interim dates to get your committees together to remind them that a whole new season and a new series of activities is about to begin. 

Since students today may spending as much time with keyboards as books, a few screen shots of emails, IM conversation and the school web site and online activities would be representative today.

Gathering Images on dotPhoto
You can give your committees a communal place to put their photos on dotPhoto by establishing albums for each activity, and then turning on “guest uploads” in each album. This will enable committee members to upload to the album, but they will not be able to edit or delete images. Of course, there can be abuse of this privilege because anyone can upload images, but you will still control every aspect of the account, and you can delete images or remove this privilege if things get out of hand.

To turn on guest uploads for any album, go to the album settings screen, and click on “Allow Guest Uploads.”

Alternatively, you can create multiple accounts for groups, and download images from those accounts when you want them. This would also enable camera phones to upload directly to each dotPhoto account. (dotPhoto does not currently allow multiple camera phones to upload to a single account.)

Monitor your photo collections as the year progresses
If you monitor the images coming in, you will notice natural shortages and certain strengths developing. Make up the shortages, but play to the strengths, too. You’re looking to create an entertaining book.

The Photo Editing Committee
You’ll need a representative group of people to select the best photos and to
edit them.
Try giving each committee member one or two pages of design freedom. Why not let the social sub-groups in the school demonstrate their particular design sensibility? Online editing tools at dotPhoto help remove red-eye, crop and clean images.

Captions can be fun and interesting. Let your humorists run wild with your final photo selection, then edit them again to add back some real information. As long as the captions are not hurtful, your readers will enjoy looking at the photos and comparing your students’ witticisms.

The written word
Yearbooks are mainly photo books, but words can be inspiring, topical and evocative. Wouldn’t it be fun, for instance, to ask the senior class where they will be in 25 years? Excerpts from a speech by a distinguished guest can be memorable – perhaps you can request an advance copy of the graduation speech. In looking back at my high school yearbook, I enjoy the senior quotes and the words that students chose for themselves. How about choosing the most interesting High School “High Points” and “Low Points”?

Fact checkers
If you’re compiling lots of printed facts, you’ll need to check your facts before going to press. Ensure that the photos match the correct names, and even that student activities reported match actual student participation.
Yearbooks tend to become the permanent public record.

Make a yearbook “Show” and share it free to promote your book
Take the best 200 photos and create a dotPhoto Show that you can share online. (These are free to create and share.) You can narrate each photo by attaching a microphone to your PC, and even upload your school song as an MP3. If you create and share these free shows throughout the year, you can keep the enthusiasm going for the yearbook project. At the end of the year, students can buy a DVD to share with their family and friends on television.

Make a List
Unfortunately, most yearbooks start with a list and live by the list, which is why I’ve purposely left it to the end. You need a list to ensure that your yearbook includes all the seniors, the staff, and the school-sponsored activities. However, remember that your yearbook is meant to be fun. The more fun you have – and the more fun that you appear to be having in your yearbook – the more it will be treasured and enjoyed.

Look at Some Other Yearbooks
Take a look at what others have done. To which pages are you instinctively drawn?

High School Yearbooks 1959-2000

If you have further questions or suggestions about creating customized yearbooks, please leave them here!