Getting Started: How Ponga works
This top-down view of how Ponga works can be a helpful way to get started. Included are links to several other articles with more detail.
Ponga works by bringing your image files into a secure vault in the cloud. We then apply a little computer magic to detect faces and sort your pictures into albums. Once they're in albums you can dive in to explore and add stories of your own. Any picture or album can be privately shared with family and friends in a safe space.
Members & Guests: Members can upload and share their own pictures. Their invited guests have free access to explore the pictures and albums they've been invited to contribute to or merely to view. Our members always retain ownership of the images you upload, choose when to share them, and with whom. Our guests have to register (so that members can control access) but they don't have to pay any additional fee.
Members: Bring Us Your Photos
In all cases, image files get uploaded to Ponga. A Ponga partner might upload files for you, or someone else might have already done that and asked you to join as a guest contributor.
Only members can upload photos and share them with family and friends. Members can invite contributors to individual pictures and albums as their guests, but guest contributors can't upload pictures. More about different account types in How Ponga Accounts Work here.
If you don't already have pictures in your account, we'll get members started by coaching them through uploading image files. It's a simple drag-and-drop or file selection. We can handle image files of any size and currently support all three of the major image types, JPEG (typically files that end with .jpg), TIFF (typically files that end with .tif) and PNG (you guessed it, files that end with .png.)
By the way, we also don't put a cap on file sizes and offer convenient zooming functions making Ponga a terrific way to share high-resolution, scanned images with family and friends.
Once you've uploaded your first batch of pictures, we sort through your images to detect all of the faces of people in your pictures. (Sometimes this can take a few minutes depending on the number of photos.) Once we've sorted through the faces, we'll collect the ones that match (using a pretty high degree of confidence) and present them to you in our "Gallery" so that you can put names to the faces.
Those you name we sort into albums. One album for each person. A single picture that includes a group of people will appear in multiple albums. Each picture that includes people you've named will also include selections around each person's face. When you run your mouse over each person, a pop-up will appear including the picture you used to name them and the name you used. As a member, you can come back any time to add more pictures, put names to more faces, or update the names you gave people.
The guests you invite to contribute to your pictures can add as many comments, recordings, and embedded links as they like, but will have to upgrade to membership accounts to be able to upload and organize their own pictures.
Organize Magically by Putting Names to Faces
To make it easy to organize your pictures, we present you with the clearest image of each face we find in a gallery so that you can put a name to it. Those who appear most frequently in the batch of pictures you just uploaded will be presented first. These will probably be your closest family members and others you'll quickly recognize.
This step should be fun. You don't have to worry about getting full names, titles, relationships, or anything like that. Just jot down the name you know. "Uncle Dave," for example. Any name you come up with now you can easily change later. The names you choose will appear in every picture in which we've detected that person's face.
As the owner of the picture, you control how his name appears. Since you'll likely be sharing the pictures, the names you add should thoughtfully reflect your audience. (You might think "Daredevil Dave" is funny, for example. It might also upset his mom. Your family loves you, let your heart be your guide.)
When it gets a little hard to place that cousin on your mom's side, don't worry, you can always ask. Make a selection around the person, and ask your mom. She'll probably know. When you go back to the Gallery, you can name her everywhere. As a member, only you can go into the Gallery to put names to faces. You can solicit feedback from anyone you share pictures with.
Context, Facts & Fiction
Naming the faces of the people who appear in your pictures will give you fresh context to explore the pictures. When you recognize just some of the people in a picture, scenes, clothing, and the apparent age differences between children can give you terrific clues about the context or occasion for the picture itself.
Ponga's a great way to capture details that might help in a genealogical search because you can capture notes about these and other details right in the picture. You can easily jot notes right into a title, description, and comments on selections in the image. Once you sort facts from fiction, you can update the details.
Sometimes, fiction is more interesting than fact. The key is context, especially when you're collecting stories to be shared within a family or with others who might be interested in the story.
Anatomy of a Ponga Picture
Notice that when you open a picture, there's a toolbar on the left. When you mouse-over (or move the mouse over each area) a tooltip pops up to explain the purpose of each tool. You'll use these tools to zoom, navigate around the picture, make a selection, and show or hide selections.
Zoom levels are interesting because they allow you to easily share and manage a very large image file. Since Ponga pictures are viewed from a browser window, no one has to download the image file. Further, with six levels of zoom, you can get down into the details that matter. See Zoom levels for more on how Ponga handles zoom.
Navigate allows you to move in and out of selections. When you click on the Navigate tool, the mouse pointer turns into a hand icon that can be used grab the image and move it around.
Titles: When you upload an image, Ponga takes the image file title and converts it into the title for a picture making sensible changes. For example, "_" becomes a space, and Title Case is added so that "george_slaying_dragons.jpg" becomes "George Slaying Dragons."
Descriptions: In most cases, this will be a blank field at first. You add to it just by clicking in that area and typing. You can include up to about 1,000 characters in this field so feel free to use it for jotting notes and external links.
Tell Stories Your Own Way
Stories associated with a picture might be tucked into a Title, Description, or even Selections in the details in a picture. Storytelling can be linear with numbers or other guides directing a viewer how to read it, or it might be non-linear with viewers picking up selections in any order and adding their own content.
Sidebar is useful to understand. When you click on a selection, the sidebar opens displaying content that's been added to a picture.
Selections & faces: When Ponga examined your photographs, it made selections for you around each of the faces it could detect with a certain degree of confidence. Once you put names to faces, those names appear in each picture along with a preview of the face you associated with that name. If you spot an error (we're good, but not yet perfect), there's a simple button that takes you to a page to correct it.
Share Stories, Privately
Let's face it, the best stories are tailored to their audience. When you huddle around a campfire telling stories to children, for example, you know who's there and can tailor the story (and exaggerations) to the audience. Social media tools like Facebook are powerful but they're not the best way to share family stories. You don't know who has access to your story or comments, whether they'll decide to keep a copy, or what they'll do with the information.
Ponga is not like that. You own your pictures and they're completely private unless you decide to share them. Should you choose to share them, you can do so in a way that just selects the people you want to have access.
The simplest way to share is with an album. When you put names to faces, we'll give you an opportunity to invite guests to contribute to albums. You might for example, invite your add comments and stories to the pictures you have of him. (Including those awkward you've planned to embarrass him with at his wedding reception.) Once an album or picture is shared with your brother (or as many other people as you choose), we'll take care of introducing him to Ponga so that he can contribute stories to your pictures.
Once you have added pictures and albums, put names to faces, and shared them with family, you can sit back and watch the stories come in. Each comment triggers a notification email to everyone contributing to a picture, or album. We know this can get exciting, so we also digest comments, collecting all comments made by everyone during a 30-minute period.
It's a little bit like crowd-sourcing the authoring effort. You may have invested the time and money to scan those boxes of old family pictures. By inviting your crowd of relatives to explore the pictures, they can give back by sourcing those stories for you. As a bonus, you get the fun of comparing multiple memories of the same place, event, or time period.
If you already have pictures in your account, jump on in and start exploring. If you've not uploaded your own pictures, go ahead and get started.
The most important thing is to have a good time. We're here for you to answer questions and guide you along the way. Feel free to reach out any time with comments and suggestions in the orange Ponga chat box at left. 👈
✏️ Note: Join us for regular events for Ponga members, their guests, and the Ponga curious. Learn more at Ponga Events