By Guest Blogger Felicia Perretti

In the past, sharing photographs was a laborious and slow process whose chemical-and-paper basics remained unchanged for decades.

When the digital camera debuted in the late 1980s, it revolutionized photography, making it easier, faster and more economical to view and share pictures. Now, showing Aunt Millie in London the snapshots of your daughter's dance recital in Jenkintown takes a matter of seconds, thanks to various online sites and services.

Fall is an incredible time for photos in Montgomery County, PA!

When choosing a site for your online pictures, however, some "Cs" are worth keeping in mind:

  • Cost and capacity. Most sites allot some level of memory for "free" (but you'll endure pop-up ads, cross-promotions, online offers, teasers and other marketing efforts). The caution here is that these locations may or may not notify you when you are reaching capacity and are about to cross that chargeable threshold. It's easy to blow through the legal mumbo-jumbo that comes with website registrations, but if you intend to upload significant numbers of pictures to a site, it is worth reading the fine print before being soaked later with charges.
  • Convenience. Social media sites make uploading images a breeze. Sharing your shots of that pie eating contest or your cat's morning scowl on Facebook takes just a second or two from your update status field. And with your phone or tablet and the appropriate app, posting becomes even more convenient, possible from just about anywhere.
  • Categorizing. If you'd rather work within a framework to categorize your photos, Pinterest may be of interest. Pinterest uses groupings (DIY, Weddings, etc.) to organize pictures on "boards." Then your subjects can gather comments and be re-pinned elsewhere. Eventually you can amass followers and extend your reach. Visit valley Forge Pinterest
  • Customizing. Most online photography sites enable a wide range of editing features that can correct common mistakes (red-eye) and enable special effects (watermarks, washes, and other tripod trickery). Sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Photobucket and Picasa enable self-publishing, encouraging users to make keepsake albums (hardbound or online) from their piles of prints.

A fifth "C" could be competition. The online community is a terrific place to sharpen your shutterbug skills and get feedback - often instantaneous - on your efforts.

Or you could participate in our currently running photo contest. Upload to Instagram your favorite pics of a Montgomery County. Pa., attraction, event, landmark or destination, tagging it #ForgeUrPostcard. Multiple entries from the same photographer are okay. You'll be in the running to have your shot turned into an actual postcard that you can share with faraway friends or relatives or keep for your own portfolio! Official rules are available online. Start snapping!

#ForgeUrPostcard Contest

The tintype, a cumbersome photographic process that involved sheets of iron blackened by lacquer to produce an image, was patented back in 1856. In the 157 years since, picture-taking has advanced to a point that would be unrecognizable by those 19th Century pioneers in photography.

Only imagination can predict where it may go over the next century and a half.

Perretti is co-owner of J&F Studio, Roslyn, PA