Where is the Best Place to Share Your Photos on the Web? Survey Says… Google+

Where is the Best Place to Share Your Photos on the Web

Note! This is a very unscientific poll.

Let me repeat myself, this is a VERY UNSCIENTIFIC POLL. I understand statistics. I understand how flawed this poll is. Please do not rattle off in the comments about all the problems with this poll being unscientific.


Now that we’ve got *that* out of the way…

Earlier this morning I posted a poll at GoPollGo (it’s a cool polling site that my friend Robert Scoble turned me on to yesterday) asking people the following simple question.

“Where is the best place to share your photos on the web?”

I gave people five choices and put them in alphabetical order 500px, Facebook, Flickr, Google+ and Twitter. I really was only interested in social sharing sites so I didn’t include pay sites like SmugMug or Zenfolio, or sites that are primarily for photo hosting like Photobucket or mobile based apps like Instagram.

Next, I posted a link to the poll to each of my accounts on the five sites mentioned so that I could push the poll, at least to a degree into every site that was included. I have a large following on each of these sites.

2,514 individuals had voted in the poll as of 3:49 pm this afternoon (the poll is still open).

The answer by a wide margin?

You might be surprised, but I’m not.


Google+ took a whopping 68% of the votes in this morning’s poll. Flickr came in 2nd with 16%. Facebook was 3rd with 11%. 500px was 4th with 4%. And Twitter came in dead last with 1%.

And by Google+ I also mean its back end storage site Picasa (which should totally be rebranded as Google Photos).

A few weeks ago I blogged that Flickr was Dead and announced that it wouldn’t be long before Google+ surpassed Flickr in pages views for photo sharing. While I think that it’s going to take a while to fully see this happen, I think we’ve already begun seeing this move by many of the top photographers on Flickr away from Flickr and Facebook and over to Google+. If you are a serious social photographer on the web, you simply cannot afford NOT to have a presence on Google+.

Now think about this. Google+ is only about 2 months old. It’s still invite only and in beta. See how fast momentum can change on the web.

So why is Google+ doing so well with photo sharing with web enthusiasts?

Here is what I think.

1. The photos look GREAT. Facebook’s already tried to revamp to try to keep up with Google here, but it’s nowhere near enough. On Google+ you get great big oversized thumbnails in your stream (did you hear that Facebook? GREAT BIG OVERSIZED THUMBNAILS IN YOUR STREAM).

When you click through to a photo it instantly bursts into the best looking lightbox view on the web.

2. Photos on Google+ get way more engagement and interaction, for the photographers that put the effort in. Almost every photographer who has put the effort in at G+ has gotten way more engagement than any other site. I’ve never seen anything like the engagement photos get on G+ — new photographers and popular photographers alike.

Some people have told me that they still get more on Flickr. But keep in mind, some of these people are not really putting hardcore effort into Google+ yet and also they’ve been on Flickr for years in some cases and haven’t even been on G+ 2 months yet. Give it time though — here are some handy tips to build a bigger audience for your work on G+.

3. The photographic community on Google+ has the best positive vibe and the photo community is coming together there in the most amazing ways.

I quit all of the flickr groups where I was active over the course of the last month or so because I got tired of all the negativity, tired of the harassing anonymous trolls, tired of the pessimism. On Google+ everybody seems super friendly and positive and the photographic community is coming together in the most beautiful ways all over the world.

I love how much better I’ve gotten to know Trey Ratcliff through Google+. I knew Trey before from Flickr, but Google+ has helped us to become even closer and better friends. He stayed at my house the last time he was in town and we did a super fun Google+ hangout that night online. I love seeing photographers all over the world that seem to be coming together on Google+ and organizing photowalks, and critique clubs and things like self portrait Sundays, and all these other fun community sort of things.

I love seeing the new leaders in photography that are popping up on Google+ — people like Lotus Carroll in Austin, or Leanne Staples and Vivienne Gucwa in New York. Lisa Bettany and Catherine Hall from TWiT Photo are super active. Colby Brown‘s been a huge leader. Robert Scoble is constantly sharing so many new photographers on the site. Robert must have shared 5 new awesome kick ass photographers in his stream just yesterday including Mihailo Radičević (check him out, he’s crazy good).

I love seeing Elena Kalis and her great underwater work. I love seeing Adobe Pro Jan Kabili sharing great Lightroom and Photoshop tips with us.

Did I mention the Google+ photowalks have been awesome! (Come join us for a Dell/Google+ photowalk in Austin next week too!)

And I myself have been making so many great new local photography friends through G+, hanging out more with folks like Doug Kaye, who I knew before but hadn’t shot with, or Sly Vegas who just started out with photography six months ago and already is an up and coming superstar on G+. Or Karen Hutton or Samir Osman. I’m making so many great new local photography friends through G+

4. The Googlers. I cannot believe how different night/day Google staff is from Flickr’s staff. Google’s staff embraces you and your art as part of the community collaboratively. I’ve been so fortunate to have met so many great Googlers over the course of the past few months. Chris Chabot, Brian Rose, Vincent Mo, Dave Cohen, Natalie Villalobos, Timothy Jordan, and Ricardo Lagos. They hired my pal Louis Gray the other day. (I’ve met so many more cool Googlers and I wish there was room to name even more). And the guys running Google+, Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz are two of the most involved people in the community.

You want to hear a crazy story? The other night I was hanging out in my basement editing photos, and who invites me to a Google+ Hangout? Sergey Brin himself. The guy who co-founded Google. I felt like one of those guys who got a Steve Jobs email or something.

We chatted for a good half hour about Google+ and Google Photos and of course lots of talk about photography. We both have the same camera, the Canon 5D Mark 2 and we talked about lenses and making big prints and all sorts of great photography stuff.

Meanwhile, Carol Bartz who was fired over at Yahoo yesterday, never even had her own flickr account. I have no idea who’s even running flickr and I can’t remember the last time I actually spoke with someone who works there. It’s been years for sure.

5. Google is innovating with photos like CRAZY. It’s a wonderful perpetual beta. Sure my +1’s disappear sometimes. Who cares. Sure there are bumps. It’s beta software that’s only been out a couple of months. But every week Google is rolling out more and more improvements to the site with no sign of slowing down. Heck just a few hours ago they gave us a new improvement for locking our photo albums.

6. The Hangouts. I LOVE hangouts. They are such a better way to get to know other photographers. Last night about eight of us just got together for an hour or so and talked about all kinds of great photographic ideas.

We talked about taking a trip to go shoot Bodie at night. We talked about the economy where Helen Sotiriadis was there in Greece. We talked about how unfortunately Jonathan Goody had his 50mm 1.4 lens damaged at Burning Man when it got knocked out of his hand in a bar. We talked about light painting the inside of a submarine and the time that Jeremy Brooks and I lightpainted this great old phone booth. Hangouts are so cool that we even got my old Pal Marc Evans to actually hook up a webcam (although he did have to find the right Windows 98 drivers).

Hangouts are an awesome easy way to connect and become even better friends with your photography buddies. These blow the conversations I’ve had in flickr groups away, complete with audio and video.

A shout out too to Shirley Lo, the queen of the Google+ hangouts — and sorry I can’t name about 10,000 mind blowing insanely talented photographers on Google+. There are so, so many and it’s because of all of you why I think the numbers are trending so high for Google+ being the great new place on the web to share photos.

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  1. Marketran says:

    I found panoramio.com gives a lot of access number since it is working with google earth even though people accessed may not have had any artistic interests.

  2. Alex Banakas says:

    Awesome article. I can really feel the emotion you have with G+.

  3. Great article, TH. I got a reshare of one of my photos from one of the more popular photographers on G+ yesterday, and it prompted 40 to 50 people to add me. The community there is simply awesome. I now have over 900 followers, and new people add me every day. That floors me. It may not be much by some people’s standards, but it is by mine.

    On G+, +1’ing, commenting, and sharing others’ photos are super easy and fun to do.

    I just love G+. I barely use Facebook now, and I’m not sure why I still upload to Flickr. Habit, I guess. Now if Google would permanently associate +1’s with the photos, and compile +1’s and comments on a photo reshare with the original photo’s post, I would be a truly happy camper. 🙂

  4. As some one who has followed you to 500px and now G+ I have to say that Flickr still bets all the other places in terms of community.

    I have been on Flickr for about seven years, and basically agree with all your criticisms. It’s deeply disappointing that Yahoo has dropped the ball in so many ways. I have only been experimenting with G+ for a couple of months, so it’s far to early to do a real comparison, but it certainly doesn’t replace the sense of community I have at Flickr.

    I have been waiting to be converted and see the light like you, but I’m still waiting. Hopefully at some point this will happen, but I am not convinced that a general social site is ever going to replace a specialized photo sharing site.

  5. I think Google has one single problem with photos (and the exactly same problem with geolocation): Too many similar/related products.

    Please consolidate all aspects of photos (Picasa, Panoramio, Google+ Photos, …) under one brand/product that can replace all aspects of Flickr.

    And do the same with geolocation, and create one strong brand (does not matter if included in G+ or not) to replace all aspects of Foursquare.

    That would make me a happy camper.


  6. Thomas:

    BTW: If you ever want to hangout in G+ that would be cool.

    best, patrick

  7. [Just to have full disclosure, I work at Flickr]

    So you mention 3 times how this is unscientific, go on to let us know you’ve done due diligence by listing the sites in alphabetical order, but fail to mention specific points on how it may be skewed like the fact that Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of Social at Google, who is responsible for its social products such as Google+ posted about it, on Google+. Which would dramatically skew the results. Maybe you should add this to your post for full disclosure.

    In the poll comments you then go on to say that “Vic is running all of Google+ and he’s aware enough of a poll like this to actually take time out and post about it. Vic’s got his ear to the ground and is engaged with the photo sharing community enough to be aware of a poll like this and promote it.”

    Again, you fail to mention that you help organize Google+ meetups, you were on Google+ since the first day it was available for public beta after being given an invite by Google directly, and you are obviously one of their influencers as they grow their product. The fact that Vic posted about your poll and no representatives from the other companies did does not mean they are disengaged from the photo sharing community. It just means the people at Google+ are aware of you.

  8. Thomas Hawk says:

    Zack, so nice of you to show up. It’s ironic that I keep giving you a platform to speak and post on my blog while you have banned me for life from the Flickr Help Forum. How fair is that?

    Are you going to dodge the question for the fifth time as to why I’m banned from the Flickr Help Forum? Certainly a paying Pro customer ought to at least be entitled to an explanation for a two year ban, wouldn’t you agree?

    Whatever the case, I’m happy to let you speak your mind here even if you’d rather censor me there and will address your points.

    Let’s start at the beginning.

    but fail to mention specific points on how it may be skewed like the fact that Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of Social at Google, who is responsible for its social products such as Google+ posted about it, on Google+

    For the record, Google+ was leading the poll by a wide margin before Vic ever posted on it. Google+ still would have likely won the poll had Vic not posted, perhaps not by as wide a margin, but still.

    Again, you fail to mention that you help organize Google+ meetups, you were on Google+ since the first day it was available for public beta after being given an invite by Google directly, and you are obviously one of their influencers as they grow their product.

    I also fail to mention that I’ve had one of the most active Flickr accounts on the entire site since 2004 and am probably in the top 1% of all accounts based on just about any metric you could possibly point to on flickr, views, faves, comments, activity, photos posted, followers, etc. — oh and all this despite being blacklisted from your Flickr Explore section of the site.

    Certainly 7 years on Flickr counts for something compared to 2 months on Google+

    The fact that Vic posted about your poll and no representatives from the other companies did does not mean they are disengaged from the photo sharing community. It just means the people at Google+ are aware of you.

    Oh I’m pretty sure that people at flickr are aware of me too Zack. And Facebook, Twitter, and 500px even.

    Maybe a better metric to measure might be something like say a photowalk. I do see that after years of inactivity Flickr actually announced a photowalk on their corporate BLOG this week hosted by one of your employees. Bravo! Certainly that blog gets much more traffic than my little blog.


    According to the upcoming page on the walk you had 11 signed up for it. http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/8340468/DU/Dublin/Flickr-Meet-upphotowalk-of-Dublin/Trinity-College-Dublin/

    Meanwhile Google had over 200 at the photowalk in Stanford last month, Probably about 80 at the one in Berkeley last week, and so far for next week’s photowalk in Austin there are 65 folks signed up for the walk already.


    My point in the post was that Google+ is presently far more engaged with the photo sharing community than Flickr or your Community Management team are. They actually treat their users with respect, are innovating, are transparent, are communicating, and the excitement level there is amazing right now. It really does remind me of what Flickr was like back in the day when I joined in 2004. Remember when 40, 50, 60 people would show up to SF Flickr Social Meetups Zack? Now they’re dead.

    Remember the Flickr Fiesta down at Yahoo when Flickr Turned 1, or the Flickr turns 2 party in San Francisco the next year. Remember the hundreds of photographers who showed up at those? I was at those.


    And this has nothing to do with Vic Gundotra posting about a poll.

    I’d make a more general Google vs. Yahoo comparison, but I think the photowalk comparison makes the point even beyond the poll.

    Now how about answering my question for the *sixth* time now why I’m banned from the Flickr Help Forum, or is this just going to be one of the petty personal little things that you hold over my account because you are czar of your own little piece of social community on the web and can hold that over me.

  9. Flickr meetups happen every month, all over the world. Some are small, some are large. Sometimes we help encourage by sending shwag, being there, etc. We do need to find new ways to highlight them besides upcoming but they are still happening all the time. One of the fun things about working with the Flickr community is that they are so engaged these events and walks happen all on their own directly from the members.

    Your poll is still skewed but you seem to be unwilling to note that in your post.

    Regarding the forum, you are not banned for any personal reasons. Personally actually, you are one of the people that inspired me when I first got on Flickr (before I worked here) to take better pictures, which got me into photography, and helped me find my creative side. You are still a contact of mine, I still have a lot of appreciation and nothing against you personally. Your claims that it is personal are unwarranted since you were told why when you were banned.

    The help forum is a place for people to find help using the Flickr site. Your comments in the thread where you were banned were jabs at Flickr staff that we might close the topic and speculation at why the account was closed when you had no information:

    These comments were not helpful to the person that went there looking for help, they sidetrack the conversation and make it harder to keep the thread on topic so we can get the member the answer they need. Your participation in the forum had become largely posts like this that were not contributing to the mission of the help forum. Criticism is welcome in the help forum and happens frequently but since your posts became more disruptive you were banned. You were given more leeway than some because you are a well respected member but in the end it was more disruptive than helpful.

    Any forum on the Internet that is trying to bring people together to accomplish a shared goal, like helping people use a site, share info about photography, architecture or anything needs some moderation to keep things on track. We have to moderate the help forum which means closing threads that aren’t on track or banning people occasionally just as you banned a person from your uncensored group to keep it on track and the members of the group thanked you:

    However when we take similar action to keep the help forum on track you have always found this unacceptable and called it censorship. But some moderation to keep the forum a place for help and not general discussion is needed to make it a useful place for members.

    Since you were banned we have seen no evidence that your participation in the forum would be any different than before. You have used the uncensored groups to get other members to make similar disruptive comments in the Help Forum. Even going as far as to bet on who will get banned next encouraging trollish behavior in the help forum:

    Which resulted in an important official help topic getting shut down:

    This is pretty funny, but it’s not helpful to members that wanted information on the changes. You are still banned because of your continued disruptive behavior to the mission of the help forum.

  10. Thomas Hawk says:

    Zack, thanks for finally answering the question about why I’m banned from the flickr help forum. That’s nice to see. I wonder why that answer couldn’t have been given to me before, like the several times I asked through flickr help by email, posted on twitter directed at flickr staff, or directly engaged you here on my blog. What’s the point of making me have to bang the drum 10 times to get an answer if it’s not personal? Certainly the above explanation could have been given to me on at least 20 different occasions in the past 2 years. You’ve certainly heard me ask this question before and have ignored it in the past or chosen not to answer it. How come?

    I do appreciate this engagement with you by the way. One of my problems with flickr in the past has been that flickr staff is unwilling to accept any sort of criticism, even if it’s constructive. I think that staff also is not open and transparent.

    My activity in the help forum prior to being banned was no different than it had always been. It might be before your time, but back in the olden days we had some raging debates in there over flickr practices. The tradition of that forum has not been simply a place to get help with flickr.

    I used to have very long debates in the flickr help forum with Stewart and Heather and other people on staff and never once was I banned. When Flickr started censoring German accounts and restricting what they could view on Flickr based on Yahoo ID (after flickr said that switching over from flickr to Yahoo IDs would have no impact on people’s accounts) I remember staying up all night long and debating with staff and others about this decision.

    As you know, prior to my banning, back when Stewart was still around, I could probably point to 50 threads where this was allowed.

    Personally speaking I think debate is healthy for community. I think transparency is a good thing. I think criticism isn’t something that should be banned.

    The fact remains that, whatever the purpose, the flickr help forum has had a long tradition of being a place where (before my banning) criticism of flickr could be addressed. (Pierre should be unbanned too by the way).

    the Help Forum is the *only* place on the site where staff can be addressed and held accountable for certain decisions. There is no other forum or no other way to get to staff. It is the only place that members can have a direct conversation and challenge a policy or something that they don’t agree with. You know this and to act like that’s not the case is disingenuous.

    The purpose of the thread you cite where I was banned where you said I wasn’t “helpful” was not about getting help. That thread had nothing to do with getting help at all. It had to do with the fact that a group had formed and was upset because they felt flickr was targeting LGBT oriented groups and accounts for deletion. It was a protest thread, just like hundreds before it.


    Rather than try to silence those upset by your deletion decisions and shut them up, you should engage them. If a person comes to forum (as has happened many times) and says hey why was my account deleted or why was my group deleted and give you permission to engage personally, you should tell them, not try to slither away from that conversation, lock threads, etc.

    And if you don’t want that sort of criticism in your help forum, then start another forum for criticism that is equally patrolled by flickr staff. Criticism happens in the help forum because “IT IS THE ONLY PLACE ON FLICKR WHERE IT IS POSSIBLE TO ACTUALLY INTERACT WITH FLICKR STAFF PUBLICLY*.

    Also Zack, the fact that you have banned people from the Help Forum while allowing the Flickr Cabal (yes, you know who we are talking about) to act with impunity is also bad for community. Allowing them to sling my name through the mud while banning me there from being able to respond is bad for community as well.

    And are you *really* going to compare my decision to remove an account from Hot Box with your decision to remove my account from the Help Forum, really Zack? You know who was removed. And you know why she was removed. You’re going to compare my removing someone who has probably been reported to flickr dozens of times by dozens of members for some extremely serious and dangerous IRL stalking with my dissenting with flickr in the help forum? An account, btw, that even Flickr themselves have previously deleted over harassment. You’re going to use that decision of mine and try to draw a comparison between that and your decision to lock me out of the help forum? Really a poor comparison to try and make Zack — especially with everything you know about the account that was banned from Hot Box and the history behind it.

    Criticism should be allowed in the Help Forum because IT IS THE ONLY PLACE ON FLICKR WHERE IT IS POSSIBLE TO ACTUALLY INTERACT WITH FLICKR STAFF PUBLICLY. Stewart allowed it before. It’s in the spirit of transparency. Believe it or not sometimes when people are critical it’s coming from a place where they love flickr and actually want to see it become better than it is.

    Oh, and your note comparing photowalks. My point wasn’t that photowalks don’t happen on flickr independently of flickr staff, they do. Anyplace where photographers gather, these sorts of activities are going to happen. But it’s sort of hard really for your staff to personally take credit for those. We did dozens of photowalks in the DMU groups that had nothing to do with flickr other than we happened to be friends in a flickr group where we organized them.

    My point was comparing the excitement and enthusiasm from the photo community for a photowalk that was organized by a flickr employee and even officially promoted on the flickr blog, (did even 11 people show up) vs. the recent photowalks that have involved Google staff with some of the largest photowalking crowds I’ve ever seen in my life. I think what Community Management should be about at Flickr, in part, is organizing fun and exciting events.

    As an aside, you are the Community Manager at Flickr — when was the last “official” flickr organized photowalk that you went on and how many people showed up at it? And don’t try to say “Burning Man” because Flickr can’t take credit for that.

    I hope you decide to reverse your decision to ban me from the help forum (and Pierre too btw), it’s the right thing to do. My criticism has always been respectful and would continue to be so in the future. Also as far as the uncensored groups go on Flickr, I’ve quit all of those at this point (as you know).

  11. judy says:

    that company is a 1990’s company in spirit and policy and socialness

  12. Clearlight says:

    I wonder if Zack had those threads bookmarked?

  13. James says:

    I am getting tired of all this hype around Google+. The truth is that other than the hyper-connected the rest of us are not able to use it. Until it is an open system your (and so many other folk’s) hype of it just serves to remind us that there is the ‘in crowd’ that can use it while the rest of us plebs are left outside.

    Personally, I use 500px – having found flickr to be unfriendly, and I do not like much about Facebook at all. Twitter, well it may have its uses but it is not much of a platform for photography.

    I say – stop the Google+ promotion until the rest of us can have a look at it!

  14. Thomas Hawk says:

    James, I just sent you an invitation to the email address that you used to leave your comment. You should be able to get in now.

    I’m sure Google+ will jump even more once they open it up to the public. That said, invitations are pretty easy to come by (any G+ user can send them out) and I think there are already something like 30 million + users on the site.

    An interesting aside is Robert Scoble’s post today on one very big important reason why you as a photographer want to have your images on Google+ — they will ultimately rank higher for Google Search and SEO. If you care about things like selling images or distributing your work, this is VERY important.


  15. Thomas Hawk says:


    As an aside, you are the Community Manager at Flickr — when was the last “official” flickr organized photowalk that you went on and how many people showed up at it? And don’t try to say “Burning Man” because Flickr can’t take credit for that.

    Let’s not dodge this question ok?

  16. Photomatt says:

    I would be interested in Google plus invite if anyone still has one. I have been sharing mostly on Flickr and like the community, but do not get much constructive feedback.

  17. Jim Nix says:

    Wow, interesting reading here. I have to agree with Thomas. G+ is far and away an incredibly engaging community, and not just for superstars like Thomas Hawk and Trey Ratcliff. Yes, they have gazillions of followers, but they deserve them. They take great/interesting/cool photos, but perhaps more importantly for me they share experiences and opinions that I value. My experience – as a relative unknown, and I’m not talking about big numbers here – is that in 2 months I have more followers on G+ than on FB, Twitter or Flickr after 2+ years on those sites. What did I do? I just went all in and engaged, and people shared and found me. It’s a community that works, and will only get better. And guess what? My blog traffic has increased in the last 2 months as well, with a spike coming from G+. Alternatively, I see Flickr as a self-contained community; in other words, people don’t leave that site.

    TH – look forward to meeting you in Austin next weekend for the G+ photowalk!

  18. @Photomatt, or anyone else who wants an invite: I have several left… https://plus.google.com/i/q-zwHTlIxwg:23_9p-zrq_s

  19. Cedric says:

    I can well believe that G+ will grow huge on the back of the photographic community. It’s as if it was made for artists and creative types. Unfortunately I can’t use it because every few days Google+ removes all the people I add to circles. Makes for very frustrating times. I don’t think this is common which in a way is unfortunate because it probably means it will never be fixed.

  20. Mark Reeves says:

    I just signed up for Google+ to try to find the turkey hand doodles. Didn’t find them easily enough… Our child-centric architectural design co. has a project which provides a unique way to sharing images, including photos. It’s a large exhibit that starts online and gets transformed into a traveling exhibition. Click my name to check it out. The Turkey Hands things started all because we started today to ask people to send Turkey Hands as submissions for the project.