In the age of Google Drive, Dropbox and other mega cloud storage services, it’s easy to overlook the other image hosting platform hiding in plain sight: Amazon Photos. The online retailer is known for selling just about everything on earth; yet, somehow its image-hosting capabilities are often overlooked. Having used it for some time now, our Amazon Photos review will look at the pros and cons of using the service to backup your image archive.
In the age of 4K video and 50-megapixel images, having a proper photo storage platform for your image archive is more important than ever. Photographers have flirted with numerous cloud storage options over the years, but buyouts and changes in the marketplace have made it difficult to know where to store your photos. Once you build your archive up somewhere and craft a taxonomy, you don’t want to move it.
Originally a bookseller, Amazon is now invading nearly every facet of our lives these days, from its smart speakers to original television content. But one of Amazon’s many services that doesn’t often get the hype it should is its photo storage capability.
How do I store my photos on Amazon Prime?
You can store your photos on Amazon Prime Photos or Amazon Cloud Drive. Both platforms are included within your Prime subscription and offer incredible value for photographers looking to back-up a significant archive.
How much Amazon Prime photo storage do I get?
Amazon Photos offers unlimited photo storage to Prime members. These members can also invited up to five friends or family members, who will also get unlimited photo storage in Amazon Photos’ Family Vault.
Amazon Drive is also included with your Prime subscription, offering 5GB of storage for videos and other content. In our review of this service and others, for the price of a Prime subscription that’s a very good deal. But we digress.
Amazon Prime offers many benefits, but for photographers its unlimited photo storage – which comes free with a Prime membership – is unrivalled in the marketplace. Even Flickr caps its users’ storage at a terabyte.
What is the difference between Amazon Photos and Amazon Drive?
There are two ways of using Amazon Prime for photo storage: Amazon Photos and Amazon Drive. To understand the difference, try thinking about it terms of a website. Amazon Drive is like the content management system, or CMS – the back end where you upload and manage files. Amazon Photos is the front end, the public-facing site where you see the fruits of your labour in all their glory.
Also, Amazon Photos will display your images. But Amazon Drive can also store your music files, Word documents, PDFs and anything else. Drive is more of an asset management platform. Prime Photos is more of a gallery.
Both Amazon Photos and Amazon Cloud Drive offer the same unlimited photo storage. However, for all other files – including videos – you’re limited to 5GB. Once you exceed that number you’ll need to purchase more storage for those files.
In our ongoing Amazon Photos review, the limitations can be annoying if you rarely shoot video and are slightly over the limit. However, the expansion price isn’t steep and if you plan to shoot more video over time, it’s well worth it.
What is the Amazon Photos’ Family Vault?
Essentially it’s an easy way to share your images with others in your family. It works by enabling you to connect together all the Amazon Prime Photo accounts in the household together, so there is one repository for all the images that everyone can access. Just like a family photo album, but many times larger and thankfully searchable so you can find the images that you want easily.
All you need to do to get started is to send an invite to the other members of your family and once they’ve accepted the invite they’re able to access the Family Vault.
The way that it can then be used is that once you have selected and uploaded images to your Amazon Photos you can then choose a selection to add to the Family Vault.
This means that you retain your private photo library alongside the one the rest of the family can access.
Is Amazon Photos free for Prime members?
Yes, Prime Photos is ‘free’ if you subscribe to Amazon Prime. But of course you’re paying £7.99 / $12.99, so free really means ‘within the terms of your subscription’.
Uploading images to Amazon Photos and Amazon Drive
Amazon makes backing up your images very easy for photographers. You can upload to Amazon Photos and Drive via desktop clients for both Mac and Windows machines.
There are also upload clients for iOS and Android devices, as well as Amazon’s own Fire devices.
Uploading to Amazon Photos and Amazon Drive can be done via drag-and-drop.
It’s worth noting that Amazon’s photo upload clients don’t offer syncing or automated backups. However, there are now apps such as Syncovery that offer Amazon Drive as an option for automated file synchronisation.
Amazon Photos Metadata
Amazon Photos populates your images with some metadata, but not much. From your images’ EXIF data it will display the camera name, the shutter speed and aperture, date and time the photo was take, the file name, file size and resolution.
Other platforms might provide a deeper list of EXIF data, such as ISO and White Balance values, but for basic photo storage and archive management, what Prime Photos provides is pretty sufficient.
Amazon Prime members get unlimited photo storage, 5 GB of storage for videos, document, and other files for themselves. They can also invite up to five friends or family members to receive unlimited photo storage, and collect photos together in the Family Vault.
To display an image’s metadata, click the little i icon in the top right.
Sharing images from Amazon Photos
You can share your images from Prime Photos, but the scope is somewhat limited. However, for photographers simply looking to back up their archive, you’ll find all the sharing capabilities you’ll need.
You share Prime Photos via Facebook, email or direct link to the image. You can also share photos to Family Vaults or create groups of other Prime users and invite them to see your images.
What happens to my photos when I cancel Amazon Prime?
This is the big caveat to the boon of having unlimited photo storage. Once you cancel your Amazon Prime subscription or allow it to expire, you revert back to the free plan which only gives you 5GB of space. Amazon says:
If you exceed your Service Plan’s storage limit, including by downgrading or not renewing your Service Plan or no longer qualifying for an Additional Benefit, we may delete or restrict access to Your Files. We may impose other restrictions on use of the Service.
This implies that Amazon may delete your files or restrict your access to them. Most likely, Amazon will offer you the chance to return to Prime and regain access, rather than simply delete them the second you miss a Prime payment.
But if you someday realise Prime isn’t for you and wish to relocate your archive, it’s worth downloading your photos and other files before simply canceling your membership.
Amazon Photos review for professionals
Can Amazon Prime Photos and Amazon Cloud Drive be used by professional photographers? Yes and no. As a photo storage platform and archival management tool, it’s simple-to-use and fantastic value with its unlimited image storage.
But if you’re looking to rely on Amazon Prime for more than photo storage you might need to think twice. Professional photographers might look for an asset management platform that allows them to share images with clients, or even sell photos directly as 500px has just enabled.
Amazon Prime doesn’t allow this. Buried in the terms, Amazon makes clear that your files are intended for personal use and should not be used for commercial purposes.
Now, will Amazon actually know if you are sending a link to a Prime Photos gallery to a client vs your mother? Probably not. But the point is, there’s no easy way for your client to purchase directly from Amazon Cloud Drive or Prime Photos.
Clients would need to give you file names and send a PayPal payment, which is all a bit cumbersome and not very professional. So if your intent is to sell images directly from your archive, Prime Photos and Amazon Cloud Drive might not be the best solution for you.
If you shoot for your own enjoyment, however, or if you’re looking to archive a large collection of images simply as a back-up or even to share amongst family, Amazon Prime photo storage is one of the most user-friendly and economical options out there.
Amazon Photos Storage for videographers
This is where self-awareness comes into it. If you shoot solely stills, Prime Photos Storage is brilliant and well worth the money. If you occasionally shoot stills, Amazon Prime Photos Storage is still worth the money, even if you have to pay for extra video storage every so often.
If you shoot mainly video, though, Prime Photos Storage isn’t for you. The clue is in the title! In our experience, the best value platform for videographers is Vimeo Pro.