Archive for July 2012

Facebook Revamps The Main Photos Page — Photos Get Bigger, Squarer and More Interactive

New Facebook Photos Layout
Facebook is Rolling Out a New Photos Presentation Page.

Facebook is currently in the process of rolling out a new and improved photos page for users. I’ve been part of a beta group testing out this new page over the last week and I have to say that the new photos layout is a huge step forward for photos on Facebook.

It is inevitable that the new page will be compared to Google+’s photos page and while there are similarities there as also some differences as well.

Like Google+, on your photos page, as well as on the photo page of your friends, you can hover over any thumbnail and like or comment on a photo with a single click without ever leaving the page. This allows you to like many more photos in one place at once than you could previously do. This new hover and like/fave/+1 functionality is a major lubricant for social activity on photos.

Although it may feel like Facebook copied G+ here, if my memory serves correct, it was Flickr who first introduced this hover/fave action for us in their “photos from your contacts” page. So maybe Facebook and G+ are both actually copying Flickr here more than anything. One small cosmetic difference between Facebook and Google+ here is that on G+, the +1/comment stats are light gray that light up when you hover to interact. On Facebook the stat information is gone completely unless you hover and then it appears for you to interact with.

One nice hover tool that Facebook also introduces us to here is the ability to remove yourself from a photo directly from the hover action. I’ve never quite understood why people feel the need to tag me in photos that I am not in on G+/Flickr/Facebook, but when they do I usually just delete the tag and block them. It’s nice to be able to more easily do this now with the new photos page on Facebook.

Old Facebook Photos Layout
Facebook’s Old Photos Page.

In the past, Facebook’s photos page had a very stale 4×3 small thumbnail format. You had to actually click through to your “Wall Photos” as a separate album to even get to these. The smallish thumbnails were all the exact same size. There was too much white space around the thumbnails.

With the new Facebook photos page Facebook has recropped all of your photos as square photos. While some photographers dislike the squaring of photos on the web, I actually love the square. It’s my favorite crop of all and I think it works well from a design standpoint in showing off the photos. G+’s photos page, btw, uses more of a justified mosiac page that retains a photographer’s original crop and squeezes them all together to fit on a page. I love the justified/mosaic view as well — in fact, I have a hard time deciding whether I like the square or mosaic layout format the most, I just love them both so much.

One of my favorite new features about the new Facebook photos page (that G+ doesn’t have yet) is that it gives you the ability to make some photos bigger than others. Facebook’s new square thumbnails themselves are bigger now than the old 4×3 thumbnails and with less white space on the page, but even better, you can now choose to highlight favorite photos turning them into even larger oversized timeline sized squares.

New Facebook Photos of You Layout
New Facebook Photos Layout on the “Photos of You” Section. Note the awesome Facebook tshirt I’m sporting in the highlighted photo. 😉

One area where I think that this new manual resizing and highlighting of photos is going to be huge is in the “Photos of You” section. Let’s face it. You’re so vain. I bet you think this blog post is about you, don’t you? Giving people the ability to highlight the photos of themselves that they look the best in will be irresistible to many.

Whether the new Facebook photos page is “inspired” by Google+ or Flickr or not, I think it’s great to see the continued evolution of photo presentation on the social web. In general our photos are getting larger, better looking and easier to engage with. This is wonderful.

One negative about the new Facebook photos page is that like the old photos page it still comes with ads on the right side of the page (unlike G+’s page which is advertising free). I cropped these advertisements out of my screenshots because, well, they don’t look very elegant. Obviously Facebook counts on this advertising revenue to keep the lights on and I can’t begrudge them for running advertisements next to my photos as their service is free, but it still detracts from the aesthetic experience in my opinion. I’m not sure what the answer here is. Would I pay $25/year for an ad-free version of Facebook like I do with Flickr? I think I would.

More on the new Facebook photos page from The Verge.

Flickr Groups Are the Hidden Social Network That Yahoo Doesn’t Even Realize It Owns

Flickr Groups Are the Hidden Social Network That Yahoo Doesn't Even Realize It Owns

Probably the number one thing that Yahoo has squandered over the years is the early mover advantage that they had when they bought Flickr and along with it one of the best basic frameworks for group social networking on the web today.

Flickr groups are a potentially powerful social network, even more powerful in fact than Flickr itself as a photo sharing platform. Instead of recognizing and exploiting the full potential of Flickr groups, groups have been left behind to languish in a new more nimble mobile world of instant communication.

Yahoo never even understood what they had. They barely understood Flickr, how could they understand an obscure part of Flickr and the seed for greatness that existed there? Carol Bartz, Scott Thompson (and now Marissa Mayer) couldn’t/can’t even be bothered to set up Flickr accounts.

Today more powerful, wealthy, and connected internet businesses are rapidly building out group oriented features (Google+ Events for example) that will further diminish Yahoo’s potential in the social networking space. Yahoo still does have a chance to try to turn Flickr groups into something larger, but the time is short. Understanding the power of Flickr groups means actually spending time using it and studying it. Like her predecessors, we can’t even get Marissa Mayer to open up her own Flickr account, so my outlook for Flickr groups is not great.

Those that have lived in Flickr groups for various periods of time over the past 8 years know exactly what I am talking about. They know how powerful groups can be. This small population of outliers on the web know that for many of them Flickr groups have been the most addictive thing they have ever experienced on the web — more addictive than Facebook, more addictive than Google+, more addictive than any social experience on the web for them ever. Groups of tight knit communities have flourished in obscurity on Flickr but have resulted in some of the most significant offline real life communication and life involvement for those who know.

The power of Flickr groups is that they allow small interest groups (that oftentimes end up transcending their own interest and purpose for existence) to turn into tightly knit communities — strangers bonding in ways that are unusual for the internet. A lot is said about how busy people are today, and people are — but at the same time people are basically bored and lonely. As connected as we are with people that we know, we thirst for more. We thirst for real interaction on the web. “Nice photo,” “wow,” “excellent composition,” are not what we are really after. We are after something deeper — something more real, authentic and meaningful. We long for connection. We thrive for real understanding and admiration. We want to belong to associations. We’ve lost touch with our churches and political parties and social clubs and even our families at times. In our isolation the web becomes our new wild, wild west. We seek connection and group association even if we do not realize it. We want to belong.

Exploring the full potential of Flickr groups and how this structure and format can be improved upon should be a major directive of Marissa Mayer. If Yahoo cares about social networking (and they should) this is where they need to start.

The power of Flickr groups basically comes down to one thing. The threads are super easy to read, bumped and interactive. Simplicity really is the power of groups as much as anything.

Below is a roadmap for how to unleash the real power of Flickr groups. As part of a longer-term plan, Yahoo needs to figure out how to roll out the group framework on Flickr to every single property on Yahoo.

1. Flickr needs more robust blocking tools. If people are going to get up in each other’s grill, they will eventually get up in each other’s grill. If groups are going to bring people to extreme levels of connection, inevitably there will be the destroyers. The basic group format allows group administrators to remove pariahs from the group experience, but this is not enough. Those in the know understand that destroying a group is largely a matter of will power. With the ability to install an unlimited army of Flickr troll accounts who can wreck havoc on a group experience, many have abandoned Flickr groups for this simple reason alone.

Google+ and Facebook understand the need for true and complete blocking. When you block someone on Google+ they are 98% gone. The blocking action renders them invisible to you anywhere in the network. Occasionally you are puzzled when you see the mention of someone’s name in a thread and then you remember, aha, yes, you’ve blocked that person. Not so with Flickr groups. When you block someone on Flickr they are free to roam any group you are a member of and continue harassing you. This drives the most social among us away. While group administration and Flickr themselves may take action if the harassment is significant enough, this is not adequate. It is not immediate. Even if action is taken, a new troll is quickly introduced to allow the same actions (98% of the time this harassment is done anonymously).

Allowing us control over our Flickr social experience should be the first priority for Flickr. Allowing a complete and total block should have been implemented a long time ago, before so many were driven from the Flickr group experience. If someone does not like someone for any reason whatsover, they should be equipped with a tool to remove them from their personal space — even within a group. A total block has deeper implications than simply removing unwanted harassment from your group experience. A total block introduces the threat of group membership shunning another member. This provides a powerful incentive for a group member to engage in more respectful social engagement and interaction.

2. Flickr groups need a mobile experience. This may need to even be a stand alone application for Android and iOS. Flickr needs to introduce a simple interface that allows you to scroll and fave group photos (Instagram style with easy scrolling and tapping to fave). More significantly though they need to introduce a basic thread reader that is as simple and easy to read and respond to threads on the mobile platform as possible. At present Flickr’s mobile app cannot interact with group threads. Trying to browse group threads on the non-mobile web version of Flickr on a mobile device drives all but the most hardcore away from group threads when they are away from their computer. We are increasingly mobile, a proper addiction should follow you from your computer to your phone. Lost non-computer time reduces engagement. Engagement begets engagement in Flickr group threads and giving people 24/7 access should be a goal.

3. Groups need better filtering tools. The goal should be engagement. Every thread in a group that will not produce engagement is noise and wasted opportunity. Allowing individuals to filter out threads that they do not care about is essential. If I do not like football, I should not have to see the “who will win the superbowl” thread in my social group over and over and over again because other group members want to talk football. This also gives group members a key tool to prevent against thread bumping abuse. Sometimes to make a point, a troll will bump one thread over and over and over again. If members have the power to simply hide that thread, it diminishes the power over the group that a troll will have.

4. Groups need subscriptions. The most active potential users will go to more than one group. They will spend time in several. In order to get someone to return to a group though, there must be a payoff. After checking group threads and finding them inactive 10 times in a row, I will come back less and less over time. Even when a thread I care about is updated, I won’t know because by then I’ve lost interest due to low payoff. By allowing me to subscribe to threads across all Flickr groups I can be assured that if a thread I care about is updated I will see it. A page of all threads that I’m hyper interested in and care the most about will be irresistible to me. If done right, this page could become the most viewed page on all of Flickr. This page would allow faster more frequent responses to powerful group threads. Again, activity begets activity. Faster more frequent payoffs make it more difficult to walk away from the thread experience.

Letting me build my own personalized group forum of threads that I am 100% interested and invested in across all groups on Flickr would significantly increase the chances that I would engage in threads as other activity took place. Zeroing in on the threads that I care most about would perhaps be the most powerful tool of any social network ever. Too often conversations that we care about are lost on the web forever. Bookmarking them and them bumping them based on activity has never been done by anyone that I’m aware of and would represent one of the most powerful tools in social networking ever.

5. Groups need a significant events page. See Google+ for how to do this right.

Photo Talk Plus, Episode 32, With Special Guest Troy Paiva

What a great show we had last night with the one and only godfather of light painting and night photography Mr. Lost America Troy Paiva.

In last night’s show we talked all about Troy’s work — his technique, his gear, his social engineering, his workshops, and lots of other tips on how you can make these sorts of photographs yourself. For a more thorough run down on all of Troy’s tips and techniques be sure to get a copy of his third book “Light Painted Night Photography” on Trey Ratcliff’s Flatbooks store. Also be sure and check out Troy’s work at his website http://lostamerica.com.

Joining Lotus Carroll and myself last night were Keith Barrett, Ricardo Lagos, Amy Heiden, Scott Frederick and Ian Ference.

We also discussed the new Canon mirrorless camera, Scott Jarvie’s upcoming Photography Decathlon, the winner of our SmugMug / Blurb Books photo project contest Jordana Wright, a wedding photographer who is being threatened with a $300,000 lawsuit, the new Epson V700 scanner that I ordered from Adorama yesterday, a photo by Alex Koloskov and lots more!

Thanks as always to our AWESOME sponsors Adorama, Blurb Books, Drobo and SmugMug. Be sure to check them out at http://adorama.com, http://blurb.com, http://drobo.com and http://smugmug.com

Join us LIVE tonight July 25th at 8PM PST for Photo Talk Plus!!!!!

There's More Than One Way Off the Island

watch: http://vidcastnetwork.com
chat: http://vidcastnetwork.com/chat

Tonight’s Photo Talk Plus is going to be AWESOME!!!! We have none other than the pioneer and godfather of abandoned night photography himself Troy Paiva as our special guest.

Troy has been making amazing light painted night photographs for over two decades. Along the way he’s published three books and published thousands of photgraphs online, including many at his website http://lostamerica.com Troy’s documented the out of the way, abandoned California desert in ways that few others will ever come close to. He regularly holds workshops on his well regarded technique.

Troy has long been a big influence of mine and it’s his distinctive night scenes that have encouraged me to pursue some of this type of work of my own (like this image of a submarine on Mare Island here).

We will have some wonderful panelists joining Lotus Carroll and I tonight to help interview Troy who also are greats themselves in abandoned photography including Sly Vegas, Scott Frederick, Amy Heiden, Ian Ference, Ricardo Lagos and as always Vidcast Network’s wonderful host Keith Barrett.

We will also have some interesting stories on this week’s show including the new Canon mirrorless camera, the winner of our Blurb Books / SmugMug photo project giveway, an update on Scott Jarvie’s Photography Decathlon, a story about a wedding photographer who was threatened by a lawyer with a $300,000 lawsuit, and tips on how to maximize the potential of your photo posts on Google+.

Thanks as always to our wonderful sponsors Adorama, Blurb Books, Drobo and SmugMug! Be sure to check them out at http://adorama.com http://blurb.com http://drobo.com and http://smugmug.com

Stacked Houses

Stacked Houses

How Marissa Mayer Can Make Flickr More Awesomer Again

How Marissa Mayer Can Make Flickr More Awesomer Again

The internet has spoken and earlier today Flickr officially responded. Their response pretty much sums up the biggest challenge for Flickr/Yahoo going forward, getting people to work there. Flickr desperately needs four things right now: money/resources, engineering talent, design talent, and community management/marketing talent. Money/resources is the easy part, hiring the talent may prove more difficult.

The trend is not Flickr’s friend. According to compete.com over the past year Flickr’s unique U.S. visitors have dropped about 22%. The sad slow decline of Flickr in many ways mirrors the sad slow decline of lots of other properties at Yahoo.

So why should Marissa Mayer make Flickr awesome again and how should she do it?

The number one reason why Marissa should be focusing on Flickr right now is that it is highest visibility, most beloved Yahoo property of all. You didn’t see mass users taking to the internet to tell her to fix Yahoo Finance, or Yahoo Sports, or Yahoo Real Estate. No. They came cheering for Flickr. Flickr has deeper emotional and social connections to users than any other Yahoo property. Reinvigorating Flickr should be Marissa’s highest priority because it represents the best possible way for her to send the most visible message that Yahoo is in fact changing, that Yahoo is back in the hunt, that Yahoo cares about their users. It’s going to take work and money but it can be done.

Here is how.

1. It has to start at the top. It’s embarrassing that according to a public search Mayer still doesn’t have a Flickr account. Not only does she not have a Flickr account, she’s using one of Flickr’s most public competitors to share her photos personally. This fact was not lost on me and it wasn’t lost on the financial or tech press. From Bloomberg: “…and, like any proud parent these days, the photo-sharing site she linked to wasn’t Flickr—she used Instagram.” From Wired: “But that’s going to take commitment and outreach from Mayer who, right now, doesn’t even have an account there.” Dog fooding is important. If Flickr Mobile is broken, then Mayer needs to suffer through it with the rest of us and hopefully get it fixed.

2. Flickr needs a big hire in an evangelist role. They need to hire a very visible name that will make the press. Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki, Trey Ratcliff, Chase Jarvis, or someone of this caliber. They need to make a big splash and they need not only a very visible hire, they need someone who is maniacally (in the good way) connected to social media. They need someone who will eat, breath and sleep Flickr and who will be out promoting the brand everywhere on the web and in person. This person should also host at least one major photo walk in one major city a month. Flickr and Yahoo should leverage their resources to make these walks big splashy public events that make people sit up and notice that Flickr has their mojo back. This person will not be cheap. Yahoo will have to pay up and Mayer herself will probably need to help recruit them.

3. Along with a new Flickr evangelist, Mayer should work with them and Flickr head of product Markus Spiering to heavily and personally recruit some of the top engineers and designers to come to work on Flickr. Flickr should not just be hiring regular old engineers and designers. They should be hiring engineers and designers who are the rock stars. Again, they will have to really pay up for these people — right now the rock star talent wants to work at Facebook and Google, not Yahoo.

If they can get 4 or 5 of these rock star types though they can then use these individuals to recruit even more talent to the Flickr team. Flickr needs to be careful here and not just hire any old engineer who wants a 9 to 5 job. They need to recruit engineers who, like Marissa apparently, want to work it 24/7 and are amazing. They should be rewarded very well and Mayer should use her personal connections to get the right people in these seats.

4. Flickr should begin a structured engagement program with their top users. They should use their internal data at Flickr to see which users are engaging the most and are the most engaged with on Flickr. They should personally contact each of these individuals and make them part of the process for improving Flickr. They should set up a private invite only group where they invite the elite of Flickr, those most heavily invested in Flickr engagement, and personally make them a part of the process going forward.

5. Flickr should set up an ambassador program. They should pay ambassadors $1,000/month (these would not be Flickr employees) to represent Flickr in their respective cities. Part of that responsibility would be to host a photowalk at least once a month (if not more). They would also breath new life into the geographic group best represented on Flickr for their area. Flickr might consider inviting them to San Francisco for an offsite once a year.

6. Engineers/Designers should start working on these problems right away: porting Flickr’s new justified pages to the rest of the site, developing circles for your Flickr contact management, giving people better blocking tools on the site, giving people better filtering tools on the site, creating a cross group subscription system that would aggregate all of the threads you are following in all of your groups and managing these threads as a single forum for you personally, building a first class mobile experience on par with Instagram, and a lot of other things. They should position flickr as a fast moving, innovative, perpetual beta team and Yahoo execs and PR should be cheerleaders with every innovation going forward. Want to see how this is done, just watch Vic Gundotra’s Google+ stream.

7. Yahoo should begin re-evaluating their relationship with Getty Images. Their goal should be to get more photographers paid more money and have more of their photos represented in the Getty Collection. If Yahoo cannot improve this situation in a meaningful way they should consider terminating the Getty relationship, acquiring a smaller stock photography competitor and building this in house. Stock photography should not be considered for what it can add to the bottom line, but for what it can do to recruit the best photographers in the world to post their work on Flickr.

8. Yahoo should heavily promote Flickr with it’s other brands. All other Yahoo properties should begin thinking of how they might incorporate Flickr photos into their properties. Image Search seems like a no brainer. It should be a Yahoo goal to double the amount of Flickr photos in their image search results in the next 60 days. Every site that uses photography on Yahoo should be charged with figuring out a way how to increase Flickr Images in their products. Yahoo may need to develop a sort of opt-in structure for this type of promotion (or better yet an opt out) to deal with photographer’s rights issues and grumpy photographers who might not want their work better promoted and represented on Yahoo, but many will enjoy the extra attention and views and it’s a natural place for Yahoo to go to for imagery.

Mayer needs to hold her new team accountable for the performance of unique users at Flickr. Flickr has been losing unique users and if Flickr is going to seriously compete in the new great big photo sharing world of the WWW, they need to let the photographers of the world know that they are back in a big way and are here to win. Success at Flickr should then be highly promoted by Yahoo PR to show that Yahoo does indeed have their mojo back and that Mayer is in fact winning. More than anything this is the reputation that Yahoo needs to change — excelling at Flickr is one of the best ways that Yahoo can illustrate that to the world. If Yahoo can’t do this then they should just call it a day and sell Flickr to Google now. They will just continue to bleed users and it will be a sore reminder that Yahoo is still languishing every time some new meme about making Flickr awesome again catches the internet’s attention.

Flickr vs. Google+ Unique U.S. Visitors Last One Year

Flickr vs Google Plus, Last One Year

An Open Letter to Marissa Mayer, CEO Yahoo Inc.

Happy 8th Birthday to Flickr

Dear Marissa,

Congratulations on your new position with Yahoo. I’ve been a huge fan of Google for a long time and have admired the work that you’ve done there. Google Maps, specifically, has been a big part of my life. Google Maps is the primary reason I switched from an iPhone to an Android phone in fact. The ability to add my maps as a layer on a mobile device when I go to photograph a new city is, for me, an incredibly important feature.

You’ve done so much more than look after things like maps at Google though and more than anything you understand the culture that has made Google a success and how the web works more broadly speaking.

I’ve written open letters to the last two Yahoo CEOs, Scott Thompson and Carol Bartz. The third time’s a charm, as they say back in business school, so I thought I’d take an opportunity to welcome you to your new position as well. Hopefully, Yahoo got a winner this time — I think that maybe they did.

First of all, my bias — I’m a photographer. I’m also a photographer who has deeply integrated the web into my photography and into my life. I joined Flickr the year they started in 2004, back before the Yahoo acquisition. I’m what they call “old skool” there. Since then I’ve used the site almost every day of my life. I’ve got over 73,000 photos published there now. Over the last 8 years I’ve favorited over 100,000 photos by other photographers. I’ve spent thousands of hours living in groups, forums, sets, and photostreams. I know the site really well.

Although Flickr has been successful in my opinion, it’s only lived up to about 5% of its potential. Flickr had huge, enormous potential when Yahoo bought the site back in 2005. Flickr *could* have been Facebook. I sincerely believe this. Instead it was clumsily duct taped on to the side of Yahoo. It’s founders worked out their contractual obligations of the sale and then bolted. Stewart Butterfield exited with one of the most creative resignation letters ever written in the history of tech — and after that Flickr was left to wither and almost die.

Flickr never died of course, it’s just that through a combination of Flickr management and Yahoo management it was put into deep sleep mode. The fact that for part of this time Flickr was unprofitable probably didn’t really help their chances. Even when Flickr did start to make money, they didn’t make much. Getting bean counters to invest in some grand future of the web was not something that Yahoo did well back then. The good news was that during this period of time Flickr didn’t really have any serious competition. This was also bad news too though because it created a hostile environment with users where we were abused because, well, where else could you go?

Photos are big part of the future of the web. A huge, giant, massive part of the future of the web. You might say photos were the genesis of Facebook. Why did people come to Facebook originally? To see photos.

Over the past few years web companies are finally beginning to understand the importance of photos. Instagram was a huge hit. They did mobile photos right. What Instagram understood was that people wanted to do two things on their mobile device — see photos by their friends and let their friends know that they were watching by sending a positive vibe. So they made the simpliest interface possible to do just that — you just swipe/scroll, tap/tap, scroll, tap/tap, scroll, tap/tap. This can go on for hours. They also capitalized on this new aesthetic that people have for a vintage film feel with their simple filters and the superiority of the square photo format for presentation.

Google also recognized the potential of photography and, as you know, photos are very deeply integrated into the Google+ experience. What a bunch of winners the team at Google Photos is. Google gave us huge full screen versions of photos first. They gave us great looking photostreams with big oversized thumbnails first. They promoted photographers in big ways. The executives personally reshared our work. They created a special category for photographers on their “Get Started” list. Is it a surprise that so many photographers are so well represented in the 1 million+ follower category on G+? Google understood that integrating beautiful and interesting photos, along with photos by your family and friends, was a way to make G+ more compelling and visually stimulating. Photos completely dominate the new G+ mobile app and tablet app as well.

More than this Google embraced the online photography community in ways that it hadn’t been embraced since the earliest days of Flickr. Google seized the opportunity to showcase that this community could become more than just a web thing. Google sponsored photo walks. Googlers participated in our photo trips. Google gave us broadcasted hangouts. Lotus Carroll and I just broadcasted our 30th weekly episode of Photo Talk Plus last week where photographers can hang out on live video and in a chat room that goes with the show and interact.

The success of Google+ with the photography community was not lost on Facebook. Facebook quickly mimicked Google’s presentation and layout for photos. The old photo thumbnails at Facebook were super tiny. Postage stamped size. Facebook went from just a couple of employees looking after photos to a whole team working on photos. Photos got bigger and better looking. New full screen versions were developed. Photos are featured much more prominently in the timeline feature. Facebook has given notice that they are here to compete with Google+ in photos in a big way. Google has the lead for sure, but Facebook is a serious competitor coming on strong.

So what about Flickr? Flickr represents the largest collection of quality organized photos on the web today. Facebook has more photos, but Flickr has better photos and better organized photos with quality metadata organized around the photos.

Flickr is also probably the most loved and passionately cared about service that Yahoo currently offers. It’s one of those properties whose significance should not be weighed by a profit and loss statement. It should be understood that embracing the passion of these users and harnessing that for Yahoo is the biggest social opportunity for Yahoo at present.

Yahoo has, with Flickr, the core to launch a serious contender to both Google+ and Facebook. Flickr is not “just photos.” Within the DNA of Flickr is a highly social property with serious potential if given the right resources and attention. Flickr Groups could become a powerhouse for groups all across the web that have nothing to do with photography. Competition is fierce though and time is short. Google Events is the first step towards creating a more meaningful group experience at Google and they did Google Events really, really well. It almost feels like it was built for, yes, wait for it — photographers.

So here is where I’ll give my armchair quarterback advice on what to do with Flickr.

Option 1 — sell it to Google. Google needs it. Google is playing catch up in a big way with Facebook in the social networking space. Google sort of has to keep Picasa as it is because it’s used by a lot of people, but Picasa in its current form will never likely become a social powerhouse. Google needs something more powerful than Picasa to funnel into Google+.

Google has the commitment to social, the money, the design and engineering talent, etc. to really do something big with it. What Instagram is to Facebook as a stand alone property, Flickr could become to Google+. Google would acquire the rich archive that Flickr represents and be able to better index this library of images for image search. They could monetize this archive better than the current Flickr/Getty deal which pays photographers out a ridiculously low rate of 20% on the sale of stock photography.

Google would get many important, visible and significant Flickr streams like the Royal Family and the President Obama that they could more deeply integrate into Google+. They’d get less famous streams but equally culturally important streams by museums and governmental archives.

Yahoo and Google have been competitors in the past. You have relationships with people at Google. If your jumping ship to Yahoo isn’t seen as an act of betrayal by your Google friends, you could definitely broker this sort of a sale.

Facebook’s a potential buyer too, but Google needs it more and the users would go with Google over Facebook I think in a migration. I might be wrong but I see Facebook post-Instagram as being more interested in growing out their photo stuff organically than in buying something like Flickr.

2. Option 2 — Seriously invest in Flickr and grow it. Flickr needs a ton of work, but could have huge potential still. Why let Getty keep the bulk of stock photography sales? Renegotiate that relationship and cut out the middle man. Acquire a stock photography agency. Open up stock sales to more users and more of their photos. Stock sales at Flickr have nothing to do with the revenue that you could generate from that business and everything to do with your ability to attract the best photographers on the web today to publish their stuff through Flickr which would be a greater benefit. The money is just an easy way to get more of these types on board.

Why am I only selling 200 of my photos as stock on Getty and getting 20% payout when I could be selling all 73,000 of my photos as stock on Flickr/Yahoo and we split it 50/50? Figure out the liability issues, these can be insured against to a large degree and use this money as a magnet to funnel the best photographers in the world into Flickr.

Your current manager for Flickr Markus Spiering is a good one but he needs a lot more resources. Flickr needs to move their new justified layout to other areas of the site. They need a basic mobile app to flip through and easily fave photos. They need a thread reader for groups on the mobile. Flickr needs circles/lists/buckets to better manage our contacts. Flickr needs more robust blocking tools — when you block someone on Flickr they should be totally invisible to you everywhere on the site.

Flickr does have what some might call an amateur porn problem or an amateur porn opportunity depending on how you look at it. What this is and how it exists at Flickr should be understood from a political/revenue standpoint and figured out — or maybe not.

Flickr needs to invest more heavily in community management. Markus has started to revitalize some of this along with Zack Sheppard, who is Flickr’s community manager, but much more work is needed here. Flickr should be courting the photography community in really robust ways and leveraging community leaders as new unofficial company evangelists (like Google Photos has done so well).

Yahoo should more broadly promote their key Flickr photographers across other Yahoo properties. Image search at Yahoo should recognize Flickr’s powerful interestingness algorithm and include far more results from Flickr in both image and web search. Yahoo should figure out how to identify key Flickr community leaders and look to promote their work across other Yahoo properties.

Option 3 — keep Flickr as it is now. This is the least attractive option in my opinion. Flickr’s value will erode over time. You’ll get less for it if you sell it later as they’ll continue to lose their lead in photo social networking in the photography space. Facebook, Instagram, Google+ are all competing heavily for this business and will only continue into the future. They are allocating millions of dollars towards their social networking efforts where photos play a big role.

Without investing in Flickr to try and reclaim the title of “king of the photo networks” and in fact leveraging this into something far beyond photos in social networking, Yahoo is much better off selling it today than waiting three years down the road.

If you ever want to talk photos at Flickr/Yahoo feel free to drop me a line. I love photography on the web and can talk about ways to make Flickr better all day long if you’re interested in it.

Oh, and sign up for a Flickr account and encourage people you know to share photos on it too. It doesn’t look like you have one yet. These things may not seem like they matter, but they do. Leading by example sends a powerful message both to the troops and to the photo community more broadly speaking. By using Flickr you also hopefully can better understand the potential of what it can become in the future.

Photo Talk Plus Episode 30, with Special Guest Brian Matiash

Photo Talk Plus, Episode 30!!!! Wow, we made it to 30 episodes! We had a GREAT show last night on Photo Talk Plus with the one and only Brian Matiash from onOne Software. Brian talked about his role with onOne and we had a great time going through some of his impressive photos on the show as well.

Joining Lotus Carroll and myself were panelists Keith Barrett, Google’s Events Product Manager Zach Yeskel, Karen Hutton, Kerry Murphy and Jan Kabili.

Catherine Hall made a guest appearance as well to talk about her new video show coming out Photography Unfiltered. We also had a few extras pop in including the ever present Billy Wilson and his cat Tibby as well as Brian Matiash‘s leading lady Nicole S. Young.

Brian Matiash has a wonderful processing style and I especially enjoyed going through some of his urbex photos and learning more about how and where he made them.

Last night’s stories included, the new G+ iPad app, +Catherine Hall’s new show, changes made to the “Get Started” G+ list for photographers, PHOTIGY’s HDR Processing contest, the new incredibly expensive Cintiq 24 inch HD Touch tablet, and Issue #2 of Exposed – G+ Photography Journal.

Lotus showed off her awesome new Canon 100mm f/2.8 L series lens (which I also own and LOVE too and shot like crazy shooting macros at the Denver botanical garden) and which you should totally go and buy from Adorama right now here!!!

As always, thank you to everyone who watched live and participated in the chat room as well as our amazing show sponsors who we love dearly, Adorama, Blurb Books, Drobo, and SmugMug.

Be sure to check them out at http://adorama.com http://blurb.com http://drobo.com and http://smugmug.com

Join us next week when we interview the incredible Daniel Milnor!!!

Photo Talk Plus, Episode 29, with Special Guest Chrysta Rae

Well we had a fantastic show last week interviewing the one and only Chrysta Rae who so many of you know and love on Google+. We talked with Chrysta about her own work as well as her work as one of the great Google+ curators with her wildly popular Scavenger Hunt.

Not only has Chrysta broken G+ is some truly epic ways, she has introduced us to so many great photographers each month with her hunt.

Joining Lotus Carroll and myself for this show were panelists Keith Barrett, Mandy Sloan, Alan Shapiro, Daniel Milnor and Lynne Goodwin.

In this episode we revisit the The Google+ One Year Anniversary Photowalk and talk about the walks that we went on, including mine in Denver, CO and Lotus’ in Austin, The July Scavenger Hunt, Trey Ratcliff’s Top 5 Tips for photographing people, Colby Brown’s Heart of a Sunflower and Ron Clifford’s post about photographing fireworks.

Thanks as always to our wonderful show sponsors SmugMug, Blurb Books, Drobo and Adorama. Be sure to check these awesome companies out at http://smugmug.com http://blurb.com http://drobo.com and http://adorama.com

Join us this Wednesday night when our special guest for Episode 30 will be Adobe’s Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty. Tom’s going to talk about what’s new in Lightroom and hopefully what may be in store for the future from the web’s most popular image processing software company.