Coppermine has tons of built in features, and tons of plugins that add even more features. You can arrange pictures into any amount of levels of categories and albums. Pictures can be uploaded in many different ways. You can do it one at a time, or you can do it in batches. One plugin even allows to upload pictures by directory structure. If you already organized your photos into folders, all you have to do is run the plugin on the folders, and it will automatically create all the categories and albums.
There is no limit on the size of the photos you can store with Coppermine. Plus, you can create intermediate pictures (which fit onto a monitor) of any size you want. Coppermine has a comprehensive search feature which allows to search for photos by title, description, keywords, and even a custom feature, which you specify (such as Color of Flower or People In The Photo). With a certain plugin, you can even search albums. You can sort the photos in many ways, such as date, rating, and title. Coppermine also lists all the exif data stored in the photos, such as shutter speed, iso, lighting, flash, etc.
You can create e-cards from your photos, and automatically send them to people by email. Photo editing features are rather limited though. You can only rotate and crop. Then again, this is not Photoshop!
If you want to have a large photo site, with multiple people’s photos, you can! You can start your own Flickr, with user accounts, administrators, private and password protected galleries and all. If you want, you have the option to put advertisements into every page. You can even bridge Coppermine over to a forum such as SMF and phpBB!
Of course, since Coppermine is open source you can write your own plugins and features to suit your needs. Your options are unlimited.
Advantages Hosting Your Pics
If you are using a free photo site , then there is a limit to the amount of pictures you can upload at a time. For example with Flickr you can only upload 100MB of photos per month, which if you think about is really nothing. An average 8 megapixel image is 5MB, so each month you can only upload 20 photos in one month. In some months I would upload near 500 images!
If you have a slow internet connection, you know how long it takes to upload your photos, and uploading 1000+ photos one at a time when you just came from a long vacation is simply insane. If you have Coppermine, just place all the photos in a folder, click Batch Upload, and Coppermine does the rest when you enjoy your much needed sleep.
Another limitation is the amount of albums and the structure of the albums you can have. Most free hosts allow only 1 level of albums. If you take photos on a regular basis this can become extremely confusing. Once you get over 50 albums, it will be rather hard to find the right one. Moreover, if there is a large event, such as a trip to Disney World, you will have 1000 unsorted images in one folder. What if you want to find that one photo of your kid with Goofy? For example, I categorize my photos in up to 6 levels. Instead of having an album named “Clouds”, they are sorted into: Events -> Trips-> Disney Vacation 2008 -> Day 1 – Arriving -> In The Airplane -> Clouds. That way, if I want to see how a cloud looks like out of an airplane, on a sunny day, like when we went to Disney World, I can easily find it.
A rather large limitation you have with online photo storage, even with paid accounts, is that you are locked into the same template. You cannot change it as you like, or even add a header showing that you are a specific site.
For technologically inclined people, having access to the mysql records of the pictures in a big bonus. If you want to move your pictures, or change them, it is extremely simple with Coppermine, where you can run a mysql query. No online photo host I know of has that option.
The only disadvantage I can think of with Coppermine compared to online photo hosts is that it might be slightly harder for people to see your photos. In Flickr, people see each others’ photos, and comment on them whether they want to or not. It is just “in their face”. However if you host a Coppermine gallery and don’t advertise it anywhere, don’t expect tons of people pouring in to see your photos. Once your site gets popular however, it is clearly more advantageous to Flickr in terms of “getting your photos out”.