The Camaraderie and Benefits of a Photo Clubs and Image Servers: Part 1

If you do not yet attend (or better yet, belong to) a local photography club, you may be missing out on a very special affiliation and a personal growth opportunity. Photography may be a solo practice, but it is much more special when you can learn from and share experiences with others who enjoy your passion. Most photo clubs meet once a month to share experiences, knowledge, and learn from special speakers and interesting presentations. The camaraderie factor alone is worth the price of admission. But while attending these events is special enough, there is now a special project percolating that will make memberships in these organizations even more valuable: the development of powerful photo club servers. More on that in Part 2 of this series.

Cloud Photo Library

Being able to access and view your photos online is a real necessity in today’s culture, but the cloud storage options come with risks.

We photographers like to show off our pictures to friends, customers, associates, and family at every opportunity. Those of us who provide professional photo services rely on quick, reliable, and private access to our images so we can share them with both current and potential clients. If you shoot pictures for a living, you know that you never stop prospecting and selling your services. Even those who simply enjoy shooting for the creative exercise and simple enjoyment have occasionally found themselves wishing they could show others some images located back on their desktop computers.

Every one of us (think airport layovers and doctor office waiting rooms), would love to reclaim that “wasted” time by doing something more productive than viewing out-of-date magazines or playing games on our mobile devices. While there are numerous ways to access the images that we’ve uploaded to various cloud services and social media platforms, sometimes the size restrictions, vulnerability, cost. and unauthorized public sharing of our images can be annoying. We love the social aspects of online services but privacy and personal security are becoming bigger problems than ever. And if you haven’t noticed recently, many of these “cloud” systems are rewriting their contracts, conditions, restrictions, and fees… and not to the subscriber’s advantage. Maybe its time to reconsider the options! Wouldn’t it be great to access any image you’ve shot at any time and from any remote location without clogging up your phone or dragging your library around with you?


QNAP provides several affordable personal servers for consumers and professionals alike.

Personal Cloud Servers 

As I outlined in a recent article (, there is an attractive alternative to commercial cloud services; the personal cloud server. Personal servers are Windows or Linux-driven CPUs hooked up to one or more server-grade hard drives. Once you upload copies of your photos to a personal server, you can view (and download) them from any location, any time. These toaster-size devices require only an Internet connection, a hard drive and a password to provide secure access to your entire photo library. Server-grade hard drives (like Western Digital’s Red and Seagate’s Iron Wolf series) are designed to operate continuously, twenty-four-seven, for years. Bargain hard drives simply cannot take that kind of beating without wearing out.

A personal server isn’t attached to your computer at all; but to a modem/router via Ethernet cable which makes it accessible from any remote location that offers Internet access. Through this device, you’re able to work on all the images you have uploaded as though you were sitting in front of your desktop computer at home. How cool is that? The hardware cost of personal servers ranges from $200-$750 (depending on the model and disk size chosen), and provides anywhere-access to the image files for each individual owner.


Synology offers a broad spectrum of reliable server products that can house multiple hard drives and provide massive storage (up to 12TB each drive) for all you digital images. Your entire library can be housed on a single online image vault, making every image available for work and display from any location on the globe.

Hopefully you can see the benefits of both photo clubs and personal NAS servers. In the third installation of this series, I’ll present an even more attractive proposition; Cloud9 Photo Club servers. This exciting new concept will revolutionize and revitalize photo clubs by serving (pun intended) as an extension of local photo club participation and services. Stay tuned in for the details on this new development.

I enjoy speaking to schools, photo clubs and organizations every month presenting programs on digital photography, post production, and color science. If you’d like me to speak to your group, drop me a line. Check out my published articles on Digital Photography School…

About Herb Paynter

Herb is a published author, photographer, retoucher, color reproduction specialist and a regular writer for Digital Photography School. Download his iBook Digital Color Photography from the iTunes store and view his Light and Color video series at Gotta Know
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2 Responses to The Camaraderie and Benefits of a Photo Clubs and Image Servers: Part 1

  1. Lisa says:

    Great article! Do you have a. Server you recommend the most? Would this server be able to store photos take. From the phone, as well as the camera?

    • Herb Paynter says:

      Thanks Lisa for your comment and yes I do recommend the Synology DS218+ for personal server use. There will be ample room on the server for an extensive personal photo library and all the software is built into the server. The only question will be the size of the disks you install in the server. Unless your library is a immense, I would suggest using twin 3TB drives. Make sure you get WD Red series drives as they are made for extensive server usage.

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