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Tell HN: You said not to. So I quit my job and started. 5 mos later: OpenPhoto
253 points by jmathai on Dec 6, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 142 comments
Original Ask HN post, http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2184603

Almost a year ago I asked if you would pay for a photo management and sharing service that allowed you to store your photos into your own Amazon S3 bucket. The overall response seemed to be NO.

A few months later in May I decided to leave my job at Yahoo! and pursue it full time anyway. Shortly after I launched it as a Kickstarter project[1] it ended up getting coverage on Techcrunch[2], RWW[3], and TNW[4]. I reached the goal of $25k on the last day of fundraising on Kickstarter.

In August we were the first project to be accepted into Mozilla's WebFWD program[5]. I say we because by this point there was a community helping build OpenPhoto. Did I mention it's 100% free and open source? That's pretty important.

What was originally pitched as a "Wordpress-like" photo service is now a full fledged photo management and photo sharing platform. The OpenPhoto API powers not only the web client but an Android and iOS client as well (not yet in the app store). I had originally thought it would take me 2 months to build but it's taken me and a team of volunteers 5 months.

What we've built is orders of magnitude beyond what I had originally envisioned and I think OpenPhoto stands a chance to actually disrupt the photo space by giving control and ownership of people's photos back to them.

To find out more about OpenPhoto go to http://theopenphotoproject.org

Here are a few invites:

  * http://openphoto.me/?code=zd065
  * http://openphoto.me/?code=zd635
  * http://openphoto.me/?code=zd92d
  * http://openphoto.me/?code=zdb3f
  * http://openphoto.me/?code=zdd72
  * http://openphoto.me/?code=zdde9
  * http://openphoto.me/?code=zdfbd
[1] http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jmathai/openphoto-a-photo-service-for-your-s3-or-dropbox-a

[2] http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/29/former-yahoo-engineer-quits-to-build-a-flickr-killer-on-kickstarter/

[3] http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/save_your_photos_to_amazon_or_dropbox_with_app_pla.php

[4] http://thenextweb.com/dd/2011/07/16/creating-a-portable-web-when-your-data-is-truly-yours/

[5] http://blog.webfwd.org/post/9300091721/webfwd-welcomes-the-first-fellows

You should try A/B testing your copy.

I don't understand the concept of openness and liberation as it applies to photos. To me, those are political concepts, not technological ones. Maybe I'm not in your target market, but to me it makes much more sense to tie "sync" and "share" to your copy more so than "open" and "liberation".

For example, if the name of your service was PhotoSync, and then if I went to the front page and saw a comparison between your service, Facebook, Flickr, and ICloud, I'd be very curious to see what you could offer over the options available to me.

Best to ride the coattails of those companies that have invested orders of magnitude more money to educate the market than to educate them yourselves.

Please put an example openphoto site linked up front. I still can't figure out what an openphoto site looks like and feel like I dug through everything.

I'm more picky about a photo gallery's look-and-feel off the bat before I think about proposing/coding changes to it.

Great point. The sites are 100% themeable but here's one of our default themes. http://current.openphoto.me

Might I suggest you change the pictures on this example site - two of the first three are of the (clothed) rear-end of a small child, and the headless nature of the pictures makes them an odd and slightly uncomfortable thing to be presented with; if I had been browsing at work I'd have closed the window.

Well...when you put it that way it is a little disturbing :). I'll select better photos for that site.

This. I went on the home page and didn't get the concept till I looked at the Kickstarter page.

You should put a big illustration on the front page that shows 1.) how the personal cloud powers the photo sharing and 2.) how this differs from the walled gardens of Facebook and other sites.

Based off all the feedback we will definitely make it easier to digest.


Also, on overview page. There is just shit loads of text. You might want to break it into a list or a series of headlines that will help me understand better.

I know you are passionate about it and won't mind writing a book on it. But overview means... well... an overview.

Hrm, a book! I hadn't thought of that. Great idea!

Seriously though, all this great feedback will be implemented :).

Yup, an overwhelming response that our copy sucks :). We'll get this addressed.

If I could make one suggestion, please make it more clear what your website and service does. The front page mentions that I have total "photo liberation" but that's just sort of buzz. I clicked on "overview" (not sure how many people would make it that far) and the headline is "Like WordPress for Photos" but if I wasn't tech savvy, I would have no idea what WordPress does. I spent about 2 minutes on the website (much longer than any consumer) and I still didn't quite get it.

Also, on the see the difference page it might help to compare yourself to Flickr and other photo services.

I don't mean any disrespect or offense, I just don't think your website is immediately clear.

Thanks for the suggestions. We haven't had any "non tech" folks look at the site yet but will definitely address anything that's not clear.

I expect most non-technical users to go to the hosted version which won't have nearly as much information but a straightforward way to get started. The project site is geared more for early adopters who care about said liberation, developers and theme makers.

The hosted version (currently designed by myself who has no creative juice) is at http://openphoto.me

As someone who loves photography, I'm deeply passionate about copyright remaining with the original artist. I guess I'm your target user.

The main thing that hit me about your current landing page is it's lack of vibrancy!

The photo apps/sites that do well (500px, Instagram) thrust beautiful images at you at every opportunity and it works!

While you aren't responsible for the quality of art stored in your accounts you are still trying to appeal to those that are attracted by great images and proving that others entrust their greatest works into this service.

Having some great photographers use your service that you could showcase,would speak volumes to other potential customers.

Thanks, man. I spent a few seconds on it, and I cannot tell what it does.

Couldn't agree more. I'm a software developer and after reading the copy and the TC article, I still don't know what it does.

Great to know. I didn't realize it was that poorly described.

Think about having an open source Flickr (self installed or hosted) that connects to your Dropbox or personal S3 bucket.

I'm pretty sure that if you have an S3 account, chances are you'll know WordPress.

But I agree that better copy is needed.

Great job! I love your product.

There is something out there that could help you sharpen the copy on your site: http://www.copyhackers.com

Thanks for that link. Will definitely check it out!

Well, you may have Dropbox without knowing much about WordPress :). The point of better copy is one we've taken note of.

> curl https://... | /bin/bash

Really? At least it's https, but how about building a proper package nightly, or commit-ly? You already assume ubuntu and apache, so this could be just a static, easily uninstallable deb. The script makes loads of dangerous assumptions.

"apt-get upgrade --assume-yes --quiet" - please don't assume stuff about other people's systems.

"apt-get install loads_of_stuff" - this effectively makes it impossible to remove all unneeded deps later on.

"ifconfig eth0 | grep 'inet addr:' | cut -d: -f2 | awk '{ print $1}'" - that's bound to fail in many cases - either return just, or try to find the actual default interface:

    DEV=$(ip r l match 0 | grep -Po '(?<=dev )\S+')
    IP=$(ip a s dev $DEV | grep -Po '(?<=inet )[^/]+')
Otherwise - I like the idea :)


The warning above that shell script is there for a reason. I hope nobody actually does that (except me since I know it's sane and need to spin up instances regularly).

You should just remove the script or make clear that it will potentially annihilate the victims host up to the point of rendering it unbootable.

"apt-get upgrade" is not a safe operation. It will install new kernels and boot-loaders and it may get terribly confused in the face of pinned packages or mixed repositories. "--assume-yes" is a really bad idea and running "apt-get upgrade" is none of your installers business in first place.

That warning isn't nearly strong enough. Someone skimming might just see that as an innocuous install script (I certainly would have). There needs to be a huge bold warning: "CHANCES ARE THIS SCRIPT WILL DESTROY YOUR SYSTEM." Maybe not using that wording, but seriously, running this would certainly screw up a lot of stuff on my system, and I'm not alone.

Please file a bug for the script bugs.

And if a DD wants to step in a package, it would be lovely.

(I run my devel instance from git on Debian oldstable)

ifconfig is deprecated for IP addresses - that should be 'ip addr show'...

ifconfig was from the original script. ip version is what I'm proposing.

I didn't personally write this script but you should totally submit a pull request :)


I'll join the others in saying congratulations and good work. I'm interested in using OpenPhoto myself, but like a few others who commented I'm a little unsure of what I get out of it.

If you don't mind a bit of hopefully helpful criticism, perhaps change the three-item rotator at the top of http://theopenphotoproject.org/ to the following:

- A gorgeous web album to show off your photos (getting across that a Flickr-like interface to view photos comes with the product)

- Free mobile app for iOS and Android (getting across that a mobile app interface to view photos comes with the product)

- Take back your photos (change the long description here to state more clearly that you have full file-level access to your photos, hosted on a server you "own")

- Free, open and easy to use (perfect as it is)

- Flexible API & apps (perfect as it is)

That initial point-form section should get across everything you need to know, and I don't think it currently does. Lastly, I'd love an invite if you wouldn't mind sending one to sully AT yllus DOT com.

Thanks for the feedback. Really appreciate it and we'll include that in our revision which we need to do soon based on HN comments! :)

Can you send an email to hello@openphoto.me? Swamped with invites and that way you won't fall through the cracks.

Will do! Actually was a bit egotistical of me to expect the reverse, hah.

It's a shame that you couldn't get empowered at Yahoo to turn Flickr into this. Maybe they'll buy you back (as talent) and give you the big chair to run things? ;)

Hahaha, I was asked so many times why I didn't stay at Yahoo with this idea. Upper management at Yahoo would have made sure to do whatever they could to get promotions while killing the product.

Have you considered that professional media organizations currently pay north of 15-20k dollars a year for cloud photo storage apps that merely read and organize the metadata?

In fact I have someone at NPR right now looking for this exact service, but made whitelable/private for internal use.

Not saying thats a direction, but just an FYI

I've personally thought about it, yes. Focused on consumers at the moment but am aware the enterprise needs decent photo management software desperately.

If you know of someone I'd love to talk to them about using OpenPhoto (it's free and open source, afterall). jaisen@openphoto.me

This is an extremely compelling idea for users who run their own websites. However, it is not clear what the pricing trade-offs are for a consumer (for example flickr) user.

I would want to transfer my stuff out of flickr right away if there was a non-painful way to determine how much I'd be paying to amazon for s3 storage of my photos. I have thousands of photos, but haven't actually counted them. Is there an easy way from within flickr to compute the total storage I'd need?

Flickr-pro has been a very good deal at $25/year (for virtually unlimited storage with some annoying terms/conditions). What will OpenPhoto be priced at?

If you use he hosted version and the storage provided by OpenPhoto it should be tiered and competitive to Flickr.

If you use your own personal storage (i.e. S3 bucket) then the cost is between you and the provider (Amazon).

I've got about 25GB of photos (≈4k in number) and it runs me just under $3/month on S3.

I don't think it is an edge on pricing but more an edge on the freedom. Flickr make it horribly difficult to export all your photos with the metadatas, the comments, etc. And Flickr can delete your account as they see fit without any due process whatsoever (this has happened on several occasion), as you mention the annoying ToS.

Also when Flickr will close (merge, bankruptcy, etc.) what will happen?

Sure there is that step to move away from Flickr but once you escape you can do whatever you want. You can host it yourself, you can host it on openphoto, with enventually your own domain (move away, keep the URL), something you can't do with Flickr (but can with some other services).


Hey man,

Great idea. I have a few suggestions.

1. Take advantage of the traffic!! Even though I do not have an invite, create a way take my email address so when there is more space, you can tell me. You have my attention now, use it.

2. Describe Open-Photo in English. I am sure you do not want this to be for developers only. 90% of people do not really care if it is open source or understand the 'liberated data' terminology. :)

Here is what I think you are building: The ultimate photo backup and organization platform. The very first place you put all your photographs. From there you decide what to post on FB, Picassa or Flickr. Best of all, you control it all.

3. Use the Gowalla shut down as PR. Imagine all the photos that were shared there; people have suddenly been told to take their shit by Jan. Describe how with OpenPhoto would have made things different for the user. tptacek things the users are owed nothing, therefore with open photo, they can take care of themselves. See (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3318527)

4. Find how to make money out of this. We want you to be on this project in 10 years and for that to happen, you have to make money. Your bills will only keep increasing. You can think of the WP model or something.

All the best and keep us updated.

Thanks, especially for

#1. Enough motivation for me to stay up and send out the invites tonight.

#2 is consistent feedback and I'll be working on that.

#3 Good idea.

#4 been thinking about this and I know how important it is to figure out how this is going to allow me to keep working on it :).

Thanks again!

You're living the HN dream by quitting your job to do your own thing, so how's it going? Are you better off doing this than working at Yahoo?

I'm sure other people are curious too.

That's a separate post altogether. I'm definitely not just living the good life as I have a wife, a 2 year old son and another on the way. My wife stays at home with our son. So this is serious sh*t for me :).

It's going great though. I've had numerous side projects and co-founded a startup for a few years earlier (no successful outcome). This has received much more traction and interest so I'm riding that out and trying to build it into something I can do for a long time.

Absolute props to you. Some of us without families (ok, me) have a hard time doing side projects while being single. And bonus points for building something that I'm definitely interested in...Flickr is showing its age....

I love my wife and my children dearly, but oh that precious time I used to have for side projects... Now I just forgo sleep.

I found that having kids, and wife accelerated my progress on projects by making the time I did have mater more.


I definitely agree. I think it's hard to sell this as a "benefit" to others who haven't experienced it though.

I miss sleep.

lmao... "not just living the good life as I have a wife"

Glad my wife's unaware of Hacker News' existence.

I'm curious, how early did you start measuring and learning from your product - did you spend 5 months doing this before launching anything, or have you had prototypes or anything to get user feedback (qualitative or quantitative) starting from early on?

Well being open source meant that we released the first prototype about 2 months after we started development. We got lots of bug reports and feature requests but the last 5 months have been primarily focused on development of the platform, web application and starting the Android/iOS apps.

All of which we release as early alphas as soon as they're functional.

Not sure if that answers your question though. We're not super structured with the feedback we've gotten so far --- we just track bugs and issues and prioritize them.

I was one who donated to your Kickstarter for early access, and I am pleased with your results so far. I just wanted to comment and thank you for your hard work.

Thank YOU for supporting :).

This makes me kind of tingly inside. It feels like the beginning of a viable 'personal cloud.'


I can't seem to find anything about access control, though, (who can see which photos). Is anything like this in the works?

Anyway, this looks awesome, and I'm excited to get started when I get home from work tonight!

Photos can be private or public. If they are private you can share them with others via their email address. The authentication system for OpenPhoto isn't tied to any single provider. We prefer BrowserID but can support anyone who authenticates that a user owns an email address. For example, we have a Facebook Connect plugin.

Thanks, that's awesome!

Some feedback:

I think you should make your landing page clearer. Having looked at it, I don't really know what OpenPhoto is. It's not clear where to click to get a simple explanation. Maybe you should put up a short 1-minute video.

I think the liberation angle is not a good pitch. I'm a paying Flickr user, but the primary storage for my photos is iPhoto / my hard drive. I just use Flickr for sharing, so I'm not worried.

I don't think you should compete on price. As you know, Flickr costs $25/year, which is already low enough to just not matter.

Some issues:

1. My 'Pictures' folder is currently 76GB. On S3, that would cost $127.68/year to store. There's no way I'd pay that much.

2. Once it's on S3, browsing and photo editing would be dog-slow.

3. Would your Web UI be as nice as Flickr's?

Thanks for the feedback.

1) You might be able to just set up OpenPhoto pointing to your hard drive and make your photos web accessible and easily searchable. You could also push to your drive from your mobile device. There's lots of room for unique use cases :).

2) You think? You could always throw CloudFront in front of S3 if you wanted. It won't be as fast as your local disk but it should be pretty fast.

3) That's the goal. Better actually. The UI is completely themeable so I see a lot of potential to have themes specific to different types of users.

Let me say again that I think OpenPhoto is a good/interesting idea.

My responses:

1) It's a laptop that's constantly moving / offline, so no. I think you should take this issue seriously, because users like myself perceive hard drive space to be "free" or at least we already paid for it, but paying $10/mo just for photo storage seems kind of steep compares to the harddrive+Flickr $2/mo option.

2) Come on now... I think you should think of some nifty sync feature so people can edit locally and upload async.

3) Great! If you have a nice UI, you should put a nice big picture on the landing page right in my face!

This is a brilliant idea. Screw diaspora, this is a trend toward the first viable open source Facebook killer. Disruptive innovation in a product with not enough features redefining the game.

I can't tell if you're being serious or joking....can you rephrase? :)

I find it strange you suggest web users should no longer trust services like flickr/facebook/picasa to stay around and keep hold of your precious photos, but you're aiming at consumers and guiding them to services such as S3/Dropbox...

Why is S3/Dropbox more likely to stick around than anything else?

I get that you offer hosting on essentially any filesystem, but the main message is somewhat mixed, don't you think?

It's not about S3/Dropbox/etc as much as it is about decoupling the service from the storage mechanisms. Once you do that then a whole lot of opportunities present themselves which otherwise didn't exist.

So yes, Amazon may ditch S3 but if the file system is decoupled from the service you're using and there are adapters for alternatives (which there are) then it's trivial to migrate without any "loss of service".

That's the worst case scenario...which isn't too bad.

Note, there's local file system and mysql adapters as well if you don't trust Amazon/Dropbox.

You really need to think about how to make your website more consumer friendly. I read through the entire front page and couldn't figure out what exactly this product is and how it works to achieve all the liberation you're talking about. If your front page fail to pinpoint the core value to a non tech-savvy customer, it's unlikely to be picked up by mainstream attention.

Thanks for the feedback. The .org page is primarily for early adopters who really want to know how OpenPhoto works, developers and theme designers.

End consumers will wind up at http://openphoto.me (think wordpress.org vs wordpress.com). The consumer site was designed by myself who has no creative talent but it's geared more to what you were suggesting (I hope). It needs a lot of work though.

I agree with other comments you need to change your wording on the home page. I'm not really sure who you're pitching this to, but if it's to a non-technical crowd you need to simplify it. It would also be great if you made a page with examples of how to use OpenPhoto, because there seem to be many possibilities, but reading the home page didn't make me think of them.

That being said, I majored in Game Development and I could definitely see the artists in the program using this for their portfolios. Most of them use Deviant Art portfolios (http://portfolio.deviantart.com/) which is not fully customizable and doesn't look very professional. Some of them bug a technical friend to help them make a real site but then it becomes hard for them to maintain it on their own. There are artists at my schol who make their own site, but it is a small group, and an even smaller subset of them have NICE looking sites.

EDIT: Oops, typo.


Completely respect your perspective but you should read the comments on this thread now that the service exists. It's much different from before it did.

Also, the idea did raise $25k on Kickstarter from over 400 backers. Curious why you feel that no one is interested in it. From what you said, you're probably not the target market.

I've spent the entire day responding to inquiries, here's a sample: https://twitter.com/#!/OpenPhoto/favorites

I have no idea if people will use or pay for this type of service. So far it's looking good though.

Great start! +1 to the fact that you got something out.

In one of the comments you say "You should use this if you care about having a central repository of all your photos, owning and controlling them and want some level of choice."

Sounds nice except that I still don't understand what it exactly means.

If you take some typical photo management workflow/use cases of typical people-who-take-photos-of-their-family-and/or-pets, and then explain how openphoto improves it, it will help.

My typical use case - -Photos (& videos) are dumped into a folder on a computer. (Usually sub folder in the format YYYY-MM-OptionalOccasion) -Use Picasa to upload to, er, picasa (paid picasa user) -Selectively share albums with friends and family -Done. -(Separate backup process backups everything on computer including these photos)

If you can tell me how openphoto will improve this part of my life, I am willing to listen and maybe even open my wallet.

Good questions. One of the goals is to allow users to continue using their existing workflow. So we've got plans to make plugins available for as many apps as possible (aperture, iphoto, lightroom, etc).

We've also got sync features planned to sync your Flickr or Picasa account to your OpenPhoto one. Not sure what Picasa offers over OpenPhoto but Flickr has a community which you may still want to share photos with. Same goes for Facebook.

On Android you can set every photo you take to be uploaded to OpenPhoto if you're using the OpenPhoto app or not. We're not interested in fighting to be the default photo app. If we are, then great.

Not sure if that answers your questions. If not you can drop me an email (jaisen@openphoto.me) and we can discuss. I'd love to know how it does or doesn't work for you.

I haven't had an opportunity to delve into the technicalities of your value prop, but why not dovetail your efforts with projects like LockerProject or ThinkUp which are also open source. They have a vision very much in-line with yours (at first glance) and have an established userbase which is growing as well. Wouldn't some consensus between these data-liberation projects benefit the userbase more than having a separate photo-liberation app?

These are honest, sincere questions and not intentionally poopoo-ing on your well-earned success.

I met with the LockerProject folks several months ago. Our vision is very much in line and we do keep in touch via Twitter.

I hope we get to some sort of concensus but it's really a lot of work :). We're strapped for resources as it is. I'd like to work together where it makes sense (acquiring and sharing users) and then figure out how the pieces fit together. I think that's entirely possible.

For many things we will all be using shared technologies such as oStatus for federation.

Screen capture. Your heading elements are off (javascript issue?) - Chrome


We're tracking that here. It's chrome on windows...


So it's a function of the font?!? Odd.

It's a webfont. I'm not as familiar with it myself so having on of the front end guys look into it.

Came here to say this. http://imgur.com/Z8fXM

This is very inspiring and congratulations! The overall site design is quite nice, and others have commented on the amount of text on the Overview page.

Could you discuss 1/ your business model (is it just paid premium features on the hosted version?) ; 2/ how you decided $25k would be good to start with on Kickstarter ; and (unrelated) 3/ what happened to thescholarapp.com (ad-parked now - whatever was there is gone)?

Excited to see where you go with OpenPhoto!

The primary focus is getting people using the software hosted or self installed.

The business model is on the hosted side via freemium + premium services.

$25k seemed like an okay threshold to prove market validation. Less than that and I wouldn't have felt comfortable enough people wanted something like this. It was not related to the actual cost of building OpenPhoto which has far exceeded that so far :).

The Scholar App we abandoned because the education space sucks and has too much friction for innovation. Hopefully others stick it out there because we are in dire need of innovation in education.

I couldn't figure out in 5 minutes what this service is really for. After 10 minutes, I'm still not sure. Worse, my immediate reaction was "Does the world really need another photobucket or imageshack?" I'm not even excited about the product yet, and I have to do research to figure what it even does that is unique or desirable? Something needs to be done to explain it better so people are excited immediately.

After reading the kickstarter page, I have a much better idea of the benefits of this. Suggestion: Replace the contents of the home page with the contents of the kickstarter page. The explanation and bullet points there are way better.

Great site and I wish you the best of luck, there is (was?) indeed a need for a personal photo storage service that is not Flickr, Picasa, Facebook or Dropbox.

One thing that I would change in the overview, give a hint of how the pages for the user will look like, not a bunch of small text. I don't think that anyone will read the text, but they will take 3 seconds to check out your sites features.

And also, add more invites... ;)

Yup, we're gonna do a lot of rework on the front page content after hearing all the comments here.

Follow us and ask on Twitter (http://twitter.com/openphoto) or send an email to hello@openphoto.me for an invite.

Like the concept, and have been looking for something like this for all the baby photos.

Feedback: - The checkboxes for DropBox vs S3 should be radio buttons. - The hover text for Dropbox vs S3 should also work on the selection control (not just the text). It was not obvious how to find it. A little (info) icon on the end would be even better.

Add some more invite codes, and I'll get in there and send more feedback. :-)

Thanks. The problem with radio buttons is that once you click a radio button it's not possible to "unselect" all of them unless you have a "none" option.

Since neither of the checkboxes are not required and they are mutually exclusive (they're not really just a restriction on the hosted version for simplicity) -- we went with checkboxes and javascript :).

That's what we're working on (baby photos) with Babysteps. We have a basic prototype in the app store, but that's the easy part. The API is the hard part, but almost ready.

More invites would be awesome! This looks great! :)

If you ask on Twitter (@openphoto) we'll send them out. Swamped otherwise and just posting them publicly means they disappear immediately :)

Really nice, I've been waiting for this and checking it out from time to time during the autumn.

A few screenshots of a real gallery would have been nice, or a feature list. Its really technical as of now. The oneline installer looks really cool, but a bit scary, the script looked safe though, so I might try that.

Great work, will try it out in the near future. :)

Thanks for the feedback. Our example site is at http://current.openphoto.me --- but keep in mind the UI is 100% themeable.

The font you used for heading seems to be not working in my chrome browser. I have never had a problem with fonts before. Here is a screenshot http://i.imgur.com/N4xO9.jpg .

Thanks, we're tracking it here.


Hooray! When this becomes generally available, I'll be totally in. Love the concept.

Yup. I'm in. Been waiting since Kickstarter announcement. Yes, website copy, UX need work. Tweeted you for an invitation. Thinking of putting OP+S3 under the tree for family gifts. Go get 'em!

You are indirectly competing with something I'm working on, so I won't comment on the business, but I will say that I thought your old site design was 100x better. Why did you change?

Congratulations! Looks interesting; what are some use cases?


That's one of the hardest parts is to narrow use cases down.

What we're focusing on at the moment is for consumers. It provides a way to synchronize/aggregate your photos from across multiple photo services into one location (that you have the option to own/control). We haven't built all of the connectors but that's in the pipeline.

From a technical perspective, decoupling the service from the database and filesystem (basically allowing users to provide their own) opens up a lot of opportunities. We're paying a lot of attention to which opportunities look the most interesting.

There's an entirely separate use case for businesses which we haven't even touched. Any business that was weary of putting their photos on Flickr now has a compelling alternative that will satisfy any of their paranoia.

Eliminating needless sites like yfrog and twitpic?

I would just suggest more screenshots of the interface, on openphoto.me and theopenphotoproject, because that lets me understand it much faster than reading copy.

Agreed, someone else said similar. Will add that.

Hey, congratulations on not taking the advice of others, and going with your heart - The project looks fantastic, and I'm really excited to migrate my photos!

Thanks. Project is just started, lots of amazing things in the pipeline.

You might want to tweak your css, whitespace especially, it's all just a bit off. ik@basdirks.eu if you want me to take a look at it, of course gratis.

Is it possible to store the photos on my own sever instead of Amazon or Dropbox etc?

How are the photos and tags stored on the filesystem layer?

That's what I do at http://photo.shutterbugging.net/

(this is an older version of OpenPhoto)

I host it on Dreamhost. No root access, flat file system for the photos, MySQL provided by Dreamhost.

There are some known issues, but this will definitely evolve for the better. That's why I wrote the MySQL and localfs originally, thanks to jmathai clean design.

Yes. We've got adapters for local file system and mysql.

Photos are stored on the file system with pointers, tags and other information in the database.

With a little bit of code you can write any file system or database adapter. We've got them for SimpleDb, S3, Dropbox, MySql, Local file system.

It seems like every year a product comes along that "changes everything", just when I'm getting the hang of everything. :(

Funny, my reaction was more like: It seems like every year a product comes along that "changes everything", just when all seems lost to boring, staid, centralized services that I don't have control over. Yay!


Can you please send me an invite code? sam [at] sstave.com

Seriously - I MUST have this. I have wanted this for years.

Please email me an invite.

Me too man, me too. I actually migrated all of my photos to the service last night in an attempt to dogfood and get all of the missing features in by being annoyed :).

Drop an email to hello@openphoto.me so you don't fall through the cracks.

Yes, more invites please ;)

Do you make more (as in the money that you keep for yourself) from OpenPhoto than what Yahoo paid you?

I've invested (aka lost) much more money with OpenPhoto that I presume most people would feel comfortable with. It's about as high risk of an investment as you can make :).

Wow, that and a stay-at-home wife, and two kids... I hope you really know what you're doing.

Me too, me too.

Sounds like Diaspora for photos...

It's similar to Diaspora. We haven't built the federated parts but it's on the roadmap.

I've got a ton of respect for the Diaspora folks but we're focusing much more on the average user and making the software appealing to them (which means easy to use). Diaspora also has to overcome the chicken & egg problem which we can work around fairly easily by providing value even when your friends aren't on OpenPhoto.

Others have said this but I too don't quite get completely what your site is about.

Yup, looks like we've got a lot to do on the messaging front :). This video might help (it's helped others) - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jmathai/openphoto-a-phot...

Great project. Any special reason why you chose PHP? Was it to attract WP-devs?

Just because it's the runtime with the largest install base. We wanted anyone to be able to run it on virtually any host. The dependencies are carefully kept to a minimum.

Not so much to attrace WP-devs but I do think WP owes its success in part to PHP.

this looks like an awesome project, I'll definitely sign up, but how are you going to make any money? Sure, the $25K from kickstarter was nice, but how are you going to continue to make money?

What $25k :). We're working on premium features for the hosted version.

Great update! It's exciting to have you in the Mozilla WebFWD program.

Forrest, awesome to meet you on HN. Talk to you in 30 minutes ;)

This is a nice idea executed well. Don't stop here.

Thanks, no plans on stopping anytime soon :)

Glad to see another success on here as well :)

Thanks. A few small successes but the project has a long uphill battle ahead :)

at this time is this basically just a prettier s3 console/dropbox, interface ?

edit: honest question cause I can't use the service.

It's a full fledged photo platform for S3/Dropbox/etc. In addition to displaying your photos nicely (and in a themeable manner) the platform provides exif extraction for tags, title, geo location, etc. All of that information then becomes searchable via the API.

There are plugins, webhooks, etc. At the risk of sounding arrogant it's pretty awesome what the community has built.

Congrats for the move and much success!

Right on man, keep the dream alive.

A Django plugin would be rad.

If you're up to writing it then let us know as we're hosting official libraries under the OpenPhoto account on Github.

Why should I use this anyway? (btw - useless invite codes)

Useless just means you were late :)

You should use this if you care about having a central repository of all your photos, owning and controlling them and want some level of choice. If you don't care about those things then there's always Facebook :)*.

By no means is OpenPhoto meant to replace Facebook, it compliments it quite well.

Ok, I'm late too, how about a few more codes?

I was disappointed that my guesses at valid invite codes didn't work.


     ' or '1'='1

That would have been embarassing.

Congrats -this does sound useful

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