Options for hosting photos to use with digital tools

Have you started to play around with some of the digital tools available to journalists but been roadblocked by the need to host a photo somewhere that spits out a URL and you just stare at the screen blinking like?

I’m not the utmost authority on this, but from my newsroom experience, I can offer these suggestions. What you find most comfortable, go with it. If you have other suggestions or insights, please offer them in the comment section below or email me and I’ll add an editor’s note. Not all of these methods will work for all tools.

FTP Server

1)) FTP SERVER –  If you have access to one (ask your IT person or a photographer, they usually know), this is an easy way to host a photo. I think of an FTP like a bridge between your computer and my stuff. You simply login to the FTP and drag your photo into a folder. You create the URL using the path it takes to get to that photo. For instance, I use the FTP I put my photos into a folder within that FTP called wickedlocal. The rest of the URL would be your photo’s file name, EXACTLY as it appears (so be thoughtful about what you name or rename the photo before putting it in the FTP). So a photo called nicole_Simmons.jpg would result in this URL:

That’s the URL you would use to plugin to a tool such as Knight Lab’s Juxtapose or Timeline.

Google Drive

2)) GOOGLE DRIVE – Many tools allow you to host your photos on Google Drive. I will caution that recently, the Knight Lab tools haven’t worked well with Drive because of some change Google has made. If you upload your photos to Drive, you’ll want to be sure to go to Share > Advanced > Public on the web. Then copy the Share URL and paste it wherever you need it.


3)) FLICKR – Many newsrooms find success hosting their photos on But there’s a catch – you have to create an account using a Yahoo email address, so if you don’t have one, you will now. Upload your photo, then click on the thumbnail, go to Privacy and make it Public. Click on Share and copy the URL.


4)) DROPBOX – Some tools, such as Juxtapose, have a Dropbox button, making it the easiest option. Create a Dropbox account if you don’t already have one, upload images to that account, press the button in Juxtapose, find your photo, done. You can also choose the image in Dropbox, hit the Share button, Create Link, Copy Link.


5)) IMGUR – You don’t have to but if you decide to go this route, you should create an account at Click on the green “New Post” button at the top, browse for your image. Give it a name and description (if you want). Hover over the image to reveal code and a Copy button. Copy. I’ve found that in some places, such as Juxtapose, you can drop in the code and add .jpg at the end to make it work.


6)) GOOGLE PLUS and other social media – Any photo that you’ve posted on social media is basically already “hosted” on the web. There may be other ways to do it, but one way I’ve found is to click on the image, then right click on the image on the next page and choose “Copy image address.” Paste that URL where you need it.

Have other ideas? Email:

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