Starbuck’s Joins Flickr and 10 Reasons Why As a Photographer I’m a Fan

You and All That Caffeine

I was pleased today to learn that Starbuck’s has joined Flickr. I’ve been a big Starbucks fan for a while and have personally consumed thousands of their beverages over the years. It is great to see them join Flickr where they can participate in social media with photographers.

One of the first threads in their new Starbucks group was one questioning their photo policy. I’ve been told not to take photos inside Starbucks several times so I was very interested in this. It turns out that Starbucks has no prohibition on amateur photography in their stores. It was nice to see this clarified today.

I also presented an idea to them that I’ve had for a series of portraits of Starbuck baristas. I’m not sure if they are interested in collaborating on this project with me or not, but I’d love to pursue it formally with them. I think I could do a really cool series of 100 portraits or so of baristas. For the past year or so I’ve been trying to get out on the road about once a month or once every other month to spend intense days shooting new towns and cities. So far this year I’ve been able to visit Chicago, Los Angeles, Reno, Las Vegas, Eureka, Redding, Sacramento and several other towns.

As I do my out of town shoots Starbucks has become incredibly instrumental for me. I almost think of them as sort of a homebase for my shoots out in the field away from home. I was posting why I’m such a fan of Starbucks as a photographer in a group on Flickr and I thought I’d post it here on my blog as well.

I thought I’d do it in the form of a top 10 list. The top 10 reasons why as a photographer I’m a fan of Starbucks.

1. I’m addicted to caffeine and they deliver a powerful punch. I saw an analysis on their coffee a ways back that indicated that they had higher caffeine levels than competitors.

2. When I’m on the road I can count on Starbucks for reliability. Getting a consistent known experience vs. an unknown experience from a local coffee shop is huge. What do I mean by this?

3. Almost every Starbucks has a bathroom. When you are committing to photographing 20 hours straight in a strange city this in invaluable to count on. This is actually the most important reason why I count on them I think.

4. Starbucks offers free wifi through my UVerse account. I can count on the fact that I’ll be able to log on for a brief break from shooting and take care of internet business.

5. Starbucks almost always has available power outlets to recharge my camera batteries, my iPhone, and laptop while I enjoy my beverage. I can also use the down time to offload images off my memory cards and on to my Mac clearing up more space for the next leg of my shoot.

6. Starbucks has comfortable seating. Sometimes you want a soft leather chair. Other times you want a chair and a table. I’ve found almost always that the accomodations at Starbucks are comfortable.

7. They are everywhere. Most everyplace I go to shoot I can simply type Starbucks into my iPhone and usually find one very close.

8. The coffee tastes great.

9. I can always count on a big glass of ice water with lots of ice from them when I order my beverage. This is so much nicer (as I can often get very dehydrated while shooting) than the piddly little water cups that they give you at places like McDonalds.

10. Getting all of the above for the price of $3.25 or so for a grande non-fat latte is a *huge* bargain. Starbucks delivers tremendous value and they do it with consistency that I can count on vs. other coffee houses where I might not get the same experience.

I’ve only just started my Starbuck’s set, but if you’d like to see (I’m sure it will be growing over time) it’s here.

Note, I was not paid in any way for this post, I’m just a fan.

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18 comments on “Starbuck’s Joins Flickr and 10 Reasons Why As a Photographer I’m a Fan
  1. Ryan says:

    Now I REALLY am not one to blab about “MAN, that’s selling out MAN!” but really?

    A “series of portraits of Starbuck baristas”?

    And end it with a top 10 list of reasons to like Starbucks?

    Pretty weak.

  2. phototristan says:

    I thought they don’t allow photography in their locations. I’ve been told this before.

  3. javajive says:

    Hi Thomas,

    Interesting perspectives. I have a strong connection to Starbucks, as that’s where I met my lady. ;)

    However, just to note, I think this list is not completely relevant to Asia. I lived in Jakarta for 7 years and just recently moved to Manila. In both countries, to compare to your list:

    2. Oddly enough has some differences amongst different stores. Philippine Starbucks mocha tastes much sweeter than that of the Indonesian.

    3. I can’t remember seeing any bathrooms in any Starbucks I’ve been in while in Asia. Definitely not in Indonesia.

    4. No go on the free wifi – sometimes it’s offered as an option if you buy a certain amount, but generally it’s not even an option.

    5. Power outlets are rather difficult to come by. Often there’s an abundance of glass windows but they don’t provide enough outlets (or they’re very far). Once again, I’m speaking in terms of primarily Indonesian / Philippines

    6. Many of the branches have very limited comfortable / soft chairs and couches unfortunately. I suppose it’s to accommodate more business.

    9. Water is rarely offered unless you buy it where I’ve been. :(

    10. Just to comment on the price of coffee. Don’t get me wrong. I love Starbucks coffee – drink it at home every day from ground coffee. But the fact that the coffee is the same price in Indonesia or Philippines as it is in the States, whilst the employees are making $3-5 a DAY is absurd, don’t you think? This may be more of a franchise issue, but still. I find it very disappointing that Starbucks over here pays only enough for an employee to buy one or two of the very drinks they’re serving throughout the day.

    Cheers,
    Brandon

  4. Wizum says:

    Oddly I think this post reeks of hypocrisy… or maybe its just me?

    coincidentally I had a Flickr friend/contact make a post in a Flickr group I am part of in my city of Atlanta. The post was about a Flickr warning she had received about how she was not obeying Flickr’s policy on “personal use”. The problem stemmed from her mentioning she was having some work being displayed in a gallery and that the work would be on sale if anyone was interested, at the show, in buying her work. This person posted the email and the parts of the policy in the post that was received in the email… It basically stated that Flickr was not to be used, in anyway, for commercial gain but was just for personal use…

    Now tell me, Starbucks, last I checked, was a commercial venture who is in business to make money? So it is OK for them to be on flickr essentially promoting their product, but yet it is not OK for a member to promote her work (and others as there is multiple artists showing) for a local art show???

    I guess when Flickr goes in with another commercial venture its ok (mutual gain)… but when a lowly member wants to promote, in any way, their work and the potential to make a couple of bucks that is BAD? come on…

    And I think it is funny TH that you are thrilled with Starbucks on Flickr… though to give you credit maybe you aren’t aware of the behind the scenes goings on with Flickr and some of its members??? :)

  5. Sally says:

    Sorry, I just to had to point out that your title should be “Starbucks” and not “Starbuck’s”. It’s a grammar reflex. But nice article, by the way.

  6. TranceMist says:

    If only they didn’t burn their espresso and knew how to make a cappuccino properly. I guess that’s what you give up for a “consistent known experience”.

    Starbucks is like McDonalds.

    I’ll go out of my way to look for a little bohemian joint that can make a good cappuccino.

  7. Noel says:

    I prefer Peet’s where the coffee is better and the wifi is free. Granted, they are not saturated like Starbucks…I prefer quality over quantity.

  8. Andy Frazer says:

    As much as I hate the Starbucks Borg Machine, I have to admit they’ve mastered the art of consistent quality, just as McDonald’s did for the world back in the 1970’s.

    And thank God for accessible toilets. Let me put in a plug for The Bathroom Diaries”, which is an on-line guide to finding public restrooms all over the world (Caveat: I’m both a reader, and a contributor to TBD :-) ).

    Andy

  9. greg says:

    I don’t get it. It’s a coffee place. Why the heck should anyone give a damn if their coffee shop joined Flickr or Pickr or Stupr or not?

    It seems like every day there are multiple businesses asking us to follow their Twitter feed, to get excited about their Facebook page, to friend them on MySpace, etc.

    Look: you’re a corporation, you’re not my “friend”. I don’t need to have your same RSS feed fed into every pore of my existence. I don’t need to have 47 TV sets each tuned to every message-spouting orifice of your corporation, desperately afraid that I might miss out on one of them.

    Here’s the deal: you pour the coffee, I give you money. That’s it. No expectations of wedding RSVPs and gifts on holidays. No play dates between our children. OK? Please.

  10. Jason says:

    Wow. I feel bad being so openly critical but the Starbucks thing is disappointing and the post itself is tacky enough to stop following the blog.

    I’ve heard that in the USA sometimes you have no choice but to go to a Starbucks, but where I am most people who weren’t raised in a strip mall know that there’s always a better place to go. Starbucks coffee is bad and their food is often old. The worst part of it is probably the “Starbucks ethos” or lifestyle, whatever it is they try to instill in people.

    If I skip over this post your blog has been nothing but great.

  11. Strange post – is it meant to be ironic?

  12. Gary Denness says:

    You mention McDonalds and their ‘service’ See if you can beat this.

    My local McDonalds in Mexico City usually got my custom on Mondays and Weds when I worked nearby. It was one of many restaurants closed down during the Swine Flu crisis.

    Now all is normal. But they still have the Swine Flu poster up, urging you to wash your hands before you eat. However, they’ve recently put another sign up, right next to it, telling customers they must buy their meal before using the bathroom to wash your hands. The bathroom is locked, and an attnedant inspects receipts before allowing customers to wash their hands.

    What am I supposed to do….buy my food, leave it on the table unsupervised while I wash my hands. No thanks. I go to Burger King instead.

    I tried to photograph the two signs, but the chap there got very upset, and seeing as I was on private property I put my camera away.

  13. alex says:

    This is a strange post indeed, pandering to a large company who has a past of being unfriendly to photogs. I’m a bit surprised and disappointed to you write this stuff, in a cheap attempt to get them to hire you for a photo series. Seriously?

    Oh, and check out Rule #1 for posting your photos to their Flickr group:

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/starbuckscoffeecompany/discuss/72157622434125041

    Again, seriously?

    Ah well, good luck with landing that gig with them…

  14. Wonderlane says:

    The Starbucks bathroom on Capitol Hill’s Broadway in Seattle is not available for use by the public. Only people who make a purchase at the time of their visit are permitted to use that lavatory.

    Just when you thought you could trust a company they turned into a corporation without compassion.

    Dancing from foot to foot having found parking difficult, I stated to their staff, “I am a Starbucks customer worldwide” and they did not give me the door code (which I learned is 123 by the way.)

  15. I’ve patronized Starbucks locations from California to Oregon and Washington to Montana to Utah in the past few months.

    Pros:

    When you load cash value onto a Starbucks card and register it at Starbucks.com, not only is daily wi-fi access free, but you get free refills of regular brewed coffee for as long as you’re onsite. So start with a cup of coffee for about a buck fifty, and you have a comfortable place to work with power, wi-fi, and all you-can-drink coffee. You can track your usage and expenses going back several weeks, and reclaim value from any lost cards registered to you.

    Cons:
    Power can be hard to come by in many Starbucks stores. Often the music is interesting, but lately some of it has just plain sucked.

    Alternatives:
    Local coffee shops (such as in the Eastern Sierras where Starbucks closed their store in Mammoth Lakes) seem to have wi-fi that is flaky at best, often password-protected and unavailable if you’re passing by after hours, some don’t serve decaf at all (one offered to make a decaf Americano instead, then hit me with a $4.25 bill for it), bathrooms have no room, no mirror, or no lock on the door, and sometimes the power is nonexistent (or worse, cuts out while your external disk drive is spinning). A consistent experience can be a major plus.

    One comment on the people who claim that term #1 of the group is an issue… did you actually read it, including the part about the right of Starbucks to use the photo only applies to use relative to the group, and that part that assures photographers that no other use is authorized without prior written authorization? That seems reasonable and generous given the more common (and highly obnoxious, even unethical) terms from other companies which insist on the unlimited right to do anything with your photos anywhere, for anything, without your knowledge or consent. Kudos to Starbucks for taking a more enlightened approach.

  16. For a countering viewpoint, please take a look at this list: http://breningstall.typepad.com/breningstall-on-typepad/2009/10/10-12-reasons-why-i-hate-starbucks.html. I think your article leaves a lot out when evaluating Starbucks. The company does provide a service and I’m a big coffee lover, but I would prefer if that service was provided by independent establishments with more artistry, flexibility, local ties, etc etc.