Whatever you thought of MobileMe, it did offer one solution for sharing photos on the web. With iCloud Apple has effectively gotten out of the photo sharing business.
The one good thing about iCloud is that you won't have to worry about losing your albums because there are none. I guess it is also a little harder to think of Apple as "the hub of your digital life."
Fortunately there are many other solutions besides Apple. I don't pretend to know them all. However, I do come at this from the perspective of someone who started using the original .Mac service from the beginning so I feel the pain of those who have lost MobileMe albums or web sites.
I had my own interesting experiences in migrating to iCloud.
That said, years ago after the first change of architecture in Apple's online storage which resulted in many of my albums being forcibly retired, I became worried. I started actively investigating alternatives. Early on my good friend Stephen @batess turned me on to Picasa Web Albums while I was experimenting with Flickr.
Picasa Web Albums has over time become my default option for storing my photos on the web. I have never regretted the trust that I put in the platform.
There are plenty of "Cloud" storage options out there, and I use several of them. Many are free and most have storage upgrades that are much cheaper than Apple was after the heyday of free .Mac accounts ended.
I hope to discuss a few of these alternatives and make it clear that even if Apple decides to have a way to store photos in their "Cloud," I would likely not bite on the offer a third time.
Just to be completely clear, Photostream is only a solution for sharing a small number of photos between compatible devices. A compatible devices rules out an older Mac but does include a Windows 7 device.
For several years, in addition to hanging onto to my MobileMe Galleries, I have extensively used slide shows on my various websites. Flickr, and Picasa Web Albums have also been in the mix. There is no perfect solution, and the simple thing is to try a few things and see what works best for you. Of course that depends somewhat on your computing environment.
My computing world includes an I5 iMac, an I7 Lenovo laptop running Windows 7, an old Dell Pentium 3 running Ubuntu, and a couple of older Macs including my trusted Dual G5 system which I purchased almost eight years ago. I am running the I5 Mac in a dual boot situation. I have Lion running on an external hard drive and Snow Leopard running on the internal drive. For my reasons behind that, you can see my post, The Mysteries of Apple, MobileMe, & iCloud.
I have both iPhoto and Picasa running on my I5 iMac. For more information on my reasons for that check my post, The saga of Apple's iPhoto and Google's Picasa with some tests.
However, in my workflow, usually the first place that a photo meets a computer is my Windows laptop since I no longer have a functioning Mac laptop. The windows laptop stays on our kitchen table, and when I come in from my early morning walk and finish my coffee, I often upload my photos to Picasa on the Lenovo. By the same token when I come in after a five mile beach walk, the photos usually go first into Picasa.
Picasa, while it is not as pretty as iPhoto, does a lot of things and does them quickly. While the iPhoto user interface has become slower to use, Picasa's has become faster and more versatile.
It is not unusual for me to run through three or four hundred photos and pick out the best ones in Picasa and do some basic adjustments for light and post them in an album on the web like this Hammock's Beach Album on Picasa Web Albums.
I sometimes will export individual photos or several photos to either DropBox or GoogleDrive. It is easy then for me to find the best photos when I go up to my office and sit down at my Mac. I also usually upload all my photos to iPhoto and run Picasa on the I5 iMac often enough to let it include all the photos that I have uploaded to iPhoto.
The other day when I was talking to another photographer who had lost his MobileMe albums, I created similar examples of the same Hammocks Beach photos on Microsoft's SkyDrive and on flickr. Clicking on the links will take you to the albums.
When I export individual photos, I usually want to use them somewhere besides an album. An example would be the photo in the post, Life without Walls, on my Crystal Coast Life website. The photo came from that same set taken at Hammocks Beach. I currently use Pixelmator for anything that I can't do in Picasa or iPhoto. Of course I also post photos to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
Sometimes, I want to make a self contained photo album and post it on my own website. I have traditionally used ShutterBug, a Mac based piece of software to do that. An example of a Shutterbug site would be this one that I created to sell stuff from our Roanoke, VA house which has just gone under contract.
I attempted to create a Shutterbug site for the Hammocks Beach photos, but I ran into an incompatibility between my old dual G5, iPhoto, and Shutterbug. Shutterbug could not see the iPhoto albums so it had nothing to work with in creating a slide show. Shutterbug is a good product and certainly should not be judged on how it works on an eight year old Mac. I'm certain that I would have had no troubles on my iMac with more recent software.
With my inability to create the Shutterbug beach site, I decided to look for a free solution that would work on Windows and Macs. I found VisualLightBox. I downloaded the Windows version, and in two or three minutes created and uploaded this online album of the Hammocks Beach photos. It was extremely straight forward, but to use VisualLightBox you have to manage your own website and understand a little about folders on websites.
As I get ready to make recommendations, two other factors are important in my digital life. I have an Android phone, the LG Spectrum, and I have one of the original Kindle Fires. I am no expert in iPhones or iPads, so make sure you run some tests of your own if those products are important to you.
First off the best and most complete solution is the one from Google. Picasa Web Albums has been a reliable photo partner for years. It has never let me down like .Mac and MobileMe. The photos that I put there years ago are still there. It is easy to share individual photos or whole albums. Picasa web albums are well integrated into Picasa and with a third party plug-in it is also easy to upload from iPhoto.
Google has over the last year made some changes in their effort to promote Google+. If you have a Google+ profile attached to your Picasa Web Albums identity, Google pushes you to create the Google+ album first, and then an automatic duplicate one is created in Picasa web albums.
I actually find that a little inconvenient so I have two Google identities, one with a Google+ profile and the other without one. When I upload photos using my identity without the Google+ profile, they go directly to my Picasa web albums account tied to that identity. I like it better that way though I am warming to the way things are shared in Google+.
With an Android phone, both of my Picasa web albums accounts sync to my phone. Of course I can log into either of the accounts using the browser on my Kindle Fire.
However that seems a little inelegant to me so I have recently discovered a new piece of software called Portfolio for Windows Skydrive. The company, Snapwood Apps, makes a number of photo apps for different sharing services.
What Portfolio for Skydrive does is turn a folder of photos in a slide show when I run the app on my Android device. It works great and I love it. I wish they would do one for Google Drive. The limitation is that the slide show is driven by the app on your device so you can't share it.
However, having said that I think Windows Sky Drive has some of the best sharing controls that I have seen.
So if you don't have a home for your photos on the web, there are plenty of options and several more that I haven't discussed. The one option not there is a solution from Apple.
In this world of everything being online, Apple's absence is a major mistake in my opinion, but I suspect it all goes back to Apple not understanding what a "Cloud" really does.
I actually think Apple would have a far better understanding of what is needed if the company got a little more involved in social media, but that is a post for another day.
If you get a chance, stop by my View from the Mountain blog, and check on my latest post, The Three Kinds of People in the World. There is not much doubt where Steve would have fit in my categories.