Why I’m Going to Work for Zooomr

Why I'm Going to Work for ZooomrWhy I’m Going to Work for ZooomrHosted on Zooomr

Zooomr, experience the world through photos.

I love photography. More than anything else this is where I find my heart, mind, thoughts and time these days. When I was 15 years old my parents bought me my first 35mm camera. It was a Sigma and it rocked my world. Since then I’ve had several cameras but the love has only intensified for me.

A little over a year ago I stumbled on the most amazing thing to ever happen to my photography. Flickr. Flickr changed digital photography for me in ways I never dreamed possible. Flickr added a whole new dimension to what photography would become for me. Flickr too rocked my world. More precisely though, Flickr did two important things for me.

First, as a photographer Flickr created an instant community of other photographers. I still remember my first Flickr meetup. cate. beautiful cate had been commenting on my photographs and invited me to a get together at the Big Foot Lodge. I was thrilled. And that night was very special for me. That night I met Sam Bloomberg Rissman and Aqui-Ali and John Curley and Sugar Booger and a whole bunch of some of the best damn people you will ever meet *and* some of the best damn people who never tire of talking with you about ISOs and apertures and RAW and JPG and prime lenses vs. zoom lenses and flickr and so on. Since that flickr meet up a little over a year ago I’ve become better friends with many of those people and I’ve made quite a few more along the way. I truly value these friendships.

Second, Flickr gave me my first real audience and interactive experience for my photography. Sure, I had a blog before Flickr and people would leave comments on my blog and say things like, “great photo,” and “wow,” but these were few and far between and I never felt like I had a connection with these people. It has been said many times that Flickr is like crack. But what makes it like crack is this interaction your work has with the people that view it, fav it, comment on it, save it, etc. For every one real life photographer friend I was making at SFlickr, I was making another 10 online friends on Flickr. Many of these people periodically made their way through San Francisco and I even got to meet them face to face. The incorrigible Mr. Chalk (yes I know he’s been deleted again), Beebo Wallace, the lovely Elinesca, helveticaneue, the list could go on.

So flickr did a lot for me. It encouraged my photography, it inspired me, it created lasting friendships. And I am today really, really into it. I started a Flickr blog. I post virtually every day on Flickr. etc. I still love Flickr and will always love Flickr. But…

About two months ago Mike Arrington wrote a blog post about a “Flickr on Steroids”. This, as you would imagine, greatly peaked my interest. After Mike’s post I took a look at Zooomr myself. And I really really liked the potential.

Since then and over the course of the past few months I’ve gotten to know Kristopher Tate, Zooomr’s founder and only employee, a bit better. Kris Tate is this ambitious 18 year old software genius.

Where Flickr has matured and emerged as the coolest photo toy on the planet, they also have had to deal with the inevitable scale issues that come with popularity. Feature improvements have slowed (as would be expected) and perhaps wisely so they must provide a great deal more thought as to how any new feature might impact a much larger audience than it might have a mere year ago.

And wile some might label Zooomr a mere flickr clone, Zooomr has nonetheless been busy building a whole host of features that Flickr does not have today. Photo trackbacks (to answer that perpetual question, “why is my photo getting 500 views?”), audio annotation, rich map integration and geotagging. And it’s only getting better from there. Wait until you see what they have in store for the future.

I’m an analytics guy. I love stats. I want to slice and dice any bit of data I can get my hands on. I want to see the 200 most popular photos on Zooomr. I want to see all photos that are not popular but have high ratings (undiscovered talent). I want to know where the traffic is coming to my photostream from, when and why. And Zooomr is building these tools too.

These things are super exciting to me — and although I’m sure that Zooomr will in time face the same kind of scale issues that Flickr does today Kris is rolling out the most amazing fun toys for the photosharing enthusiast.

Zooomr is not where it needs to be today, don’t judge the service by what’s up there now. Wait until early next month to try the 2.0 upgrade. There is a lot of work that still needs to be done. Kris needs to finish the API. A bulk uploader is just about ready. Better and better and richer and richer search. A few other finishing touches need to be in place — but they are almost there. And when early next month Zooomr launches their version 2.0 I think and hope that it will also rock your world.

This decision to join Zooomr, by the way, is in no way meant to imply that Flickr is not great. On the contrary. I spent a bit of time last night talking on the phone with Stewart Butterfield from Flickr about my decision to join Zooomr. How it represents for me personally a unique opportunity to jump into the tech startup world hands on. How working with Kris will give me an opportunity to influence many more of the great features that I feel ought to be developed from a photogeek perspective. Why I felt it an exciting opportunity and one I ought to pursue.

Personally for me though Zooomr is additive to the great photo sharing site that is flickr. I plan to continue being very active at flickr even as I grow my images and (hopefully) convince a lot of you why Zooomr is something you might want to check out as well.

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35 Comments

  1. cygnoir says:

    Congratulations, Tom! I’ve just signed up for Zooomr, and I look forward to finding out more about it.

    Selfishly, I’m glad you won’t be leaving Flickr. You’ve been such an inspiration to me there.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Congratulations! Best of luck on the new move! I’m actually very jealous of the move.

  3. shhexycorin says:

    Is this a career change or on top of your 9-5?

    A smart man would be sending the kids out to work whilst Daddy goes to play internets with his mates…
    ;)

  4. Mike D says:

    Sounds like an exciting move! Best of luck with it. Does this mean you’re leaving your day job?

  5. Wow, I will have to check Zoomr out! I am relatively new to flickr, so I have never heard of this before. It may be possible for me to consider it when my subscription is up next March, it sounds like then they will have worked out a lot of kinks and improved it a lot.

    I have not made that many connections yet through flickr, but your story is inspiring.

    I am challenged everyday, to see things in a new way by the wonderful photos I see on flickr.

    I got my first 35mm when I was 14. It was a Konica FT1 and I had to babysit all summer to by the camera and the zoom lens!

  6. NullCorpus says:

    Flickr is just one site.
    Zooomr is another..

    How many more sites will be vying for eyeballs and mindspace..?

  7. ChristianZ says:

    1. It’s “piqued,” not “peaked.”

    2. This post just shows that people are going run around like chickens with their heads cut off looking for the “next big thing,” I mean, the “next big photo sharing site.” Flickr is going to add the features you mentioned zooomr has, then some other site (let’s call it “glittr” for now) is going to come up with some format that bests flickr and zooomr, then flickr and zooomr will catch up again. Then we’ll have all these photo sharing sites that are pretty much the same and the users of each will argue ad infinitum that theirs is better.

    3. Photography is way too general of a thing to “be into.” It’s like saying you are into food. You gotta narrow the focus a little for it to mean something. “I’m into nature photography.” OR “I’m into food photography.” It’s like a guy I knew who said he was into business. Business and photography are tools. They are means to an end, not ends themselves.

    4. Keep on photographing. Sounds like you have a full-time passion, one that I dip into on rare occasions.

    5. I was about to start a flickr account but after reading this post I don’t know what to do.

  8. Matt says:

    Congrats Thomas! With you on board, I’m looking forward to Zoomr launching a MCE browser :).

  9. BM says:

    OK maybe I’m missing something here, but it seems that Zooomr doesn’t have a way to group photos into sets like Flickr does. Did I just happen to gloss over it? I love all the other features, especially the geotagging, but it seems odd that they left out the ability to create photosets.

  10. Thomas Hawk says:

    BM, hang tight. Zooomr is nowhere near where it needs to be today. Much of the best functionality is coming in version 2.0 due out early next month.

  11. BM says:

    Tom, thanks for the quick reply. I’m really glad to hear that I won’t have to wait much longer. BTW, I’ve found a few links to sign-up for the PRO account, much like the Flickr PRO account, but the links don’t seem to be active. I guess we have to wait for version 2.0 for that as well? Thanks again Tom. Looking forward to it all!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations and good luck. Is this supposed to be like when Howard Stern went to Sirius?

  13. jonny says:

    congrats – enjoy the ride. i have enjoyed your photos on flickr. realistically though life is too hectic to follow photos on another site. so if you stop posting on flickr i guess i’ll miss out. taking your advice i have just tried flock which pulls in new photos from contacts. that’s how i’m looking at peoples latest pics. zoomr isn’t going to appear. i realise you know all this – i’m just thinking aloud. your blog will still be in my newsreader though so i’ll follow along that way

  14. Phil says:

    I hope you contunie to at least post to Flickr. I love your work and it is always great to see whats going on.

    To me Zooomr is the geekier version of Flickr, at least for now.

  15. delviking says:

    Good luck there man! Will check out Zooomr later, don’t have time now after reading that whole story :)
    And smart move to link the story to the Green Frog picture – that’s how I came here. Great picture.

  16. Sweet chili TH … I’ve dabbled with Zooomr a bit I am going to get much more active and I will also be calling you for all the problems I have too … like they say … it is not what you know buy who you know

    Seriously … good luck with this … I know that anything you get behind your are going to give it your 100%. Zooomr is lucky to have you around!

  17. Thomas Hawk says:

    Thanks guys. And feel free to contact me with problems or other issues you may have with the service. Keep in mind that it’s going to be a lot cooler with version 2.0 due out early next month.

  18. Gary says:

    Wait – so what are you doing at Zooomr exactly?

  19. Harpy says:

    I’ll be dropping by to see what you’re so excited about. Must be something special.

    Good luck Mr Hawk!

  20. Elinesca says:

    Thomas, so glad to see you do something you’ll love:-)

    Now that you’re there… could you do something about that pesky log in situation at zooomr? I never use it because… I can’t log in. Don’t remember what I used when I created my account – and there is no help for confused users at Zooomr. Nil. Zero. Sigh!

  21. Lux says:

    Please help me on this. Zooomr allows 50 Mb upload. But per day? per month? I could not find the answer after reading all FAQs and LEARN MORE at Zooomr. Sure you know this, so please let me know: vision@luxclara.com Thanks.

  22. raianoat says:

    Congratulations! I wish you best of luck!

  23. Tom Raftery says:

    Congrats Tom – it’s great to hear about someone pursuing (sp?) their passion professionally.

    I have long enjoyed your photos on Flickr and look forward to now enjoying them on Zooomr too!

    btw, does this mean you will be de-cloaking and telling us your real name?

  24. John Wilson says:

    Tom Raftery makes a great point & what a marketing dilema – reveal your true identity and lose your “net brand recognition” OR become into Thomas Hawk (with all the personal admin hassle that entails, especially with the trail commission from your investment advisory work)…..

    Greatly admire your photography and insightful blog – your passion is evident.

    I wish you great success with the new venture – having fun & making money at the same time is the place to be at.

  25. Andreas says:

    i haven’t played with zooomr a lot yet but i understand a bit about
    the tech business…
    “thomas hawk” makes a few good points about where zooomr has advantages from a technical point of view, but he makes the same mistake almost all start-up investors make, he doesn’t understand his audience. the average photo website user (same goes for weblogs and other web 2.0
    applications) doesn’t really care about geek features like trackbacks and geotagging. the thing that made flickr a success (and the big success story with shitty software: myspace) is the social aspect – bring enough users together and allow them to interact on a very simple level and you may have a winner even without the perfect product (or a constant beta). it’s not just about features, it’s about user experience.

    then again, a lot of these start-ups just try to stay around long enough before they get bought out by Google, Yahoo or Microsoft – the only thing that changed since the first bubble burst is the exit strategy in the business plan. back then everybody was hoping for an IPO, now they are working towards a buy-out. zooomr might make it to the end of the cycle but i don’t see it becoming a big player before it either gets bought out or just collapses.

  26. Thomas Hawk says:

    both *fully* understand the relevence of community. That’s a big part of why I was brought in to work with him and a big part of what we are developing to roll out in our next version.

    Community is the single most important thing that makes any Web 2.0 company work. We totally believe that. We will build a community at Zooomr but at the same time we will do so by creating the most kick ass photo sharing site that they’ve ever seen.

    You are going to be surprised at how relevent metadata is going to become for enhancing community especially.

  27. John Piercy says:

    Congrats Thomas ,,on your new job

    Hope to keep seeing your awesome pictures

    Canadianguy

  28. johncurley says:

    Thomas, congratulations, this is really awesome. It’s inspiring to see someone following their passion.

    I hope many good things come of this, and I know you’ll be even more inspired to take great pictures.

    It’s very exciting, and I’m really happy for you.

  29. Tom, I’ve just seen you portfolio on the BBC site – nice! I thought you may be interested in having a look at this, www. blipfoto.com. It’s in it’s first beta incarnation but has been tested over a year

    It’s based on a very different premis. Everyday you take a shot – document a life and open it up to the world. The banal becomes facinating – just starting but a big future.

  30. Drew says:

    Thomas,
    That is great news about Zooomr. I am on both Flickr and Zooomr and I’m also on Buzznet. I like many things about each of the sites. I look forward to the improvements coming to Zooomr. And I really like how many people have found my photos, many more than on Flickr. And I’ve been on Buzznet the longest but I only post my daily photo there. Next year I’m going to probably get a widget together to host my Photo-A-Day on either Zooomr or Flickr.

  31. Martin says:

    If you like flickr, I’m sure you’d like blipfoto.com also.
    It’s a little different but a really great site, most of
    the people on blip are on flickr too!

  32. zooomr says:

    Zooomr is fantastic, and it’s in a terrific market with over a dozen quality sites offering similar similar tools for online photo sharing and manipulation.

  33. canon t2i says:

    so perfect and gorgeous picture

  34. Nice pic, the smiling frog.