Flickr Brings Back Pro

Thomas Hawk, Pure Pro

“It’s about time we started to take photography seriously and treat it as a hobby.” Elliott Erwitt

“Hell hath no fury like that of a ‘professional’ photographer scorned.” Thomas Hawk

A few years ago, shortly after Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo, Flickr did away with their paid pro account. Existing pros could keep this distinction (and pay for it) and were grandfathered, but new pro accounts could not be opened.

Announcing that decision Mayer took a bunch of heat for suggesting that there really wasn’t much of a distinction between professional and amatuer photographers anymore — a statement which she later clarified. As Bart Simpson might say, aye caramba senora Mayer!

Nothing pisses off so called professional photographers more than to minimize their self-important “pro” moniker and lump them in with every Tom, Dick, and Harry, or these days Jane, Jill and Mary as just another shutterbug with an iPhone 6+ or a Canon 5D Mark 3. The truth of the matter is though that the economics of photography have been changing for years now and much to the chagrin of the “professional,” the economics of photography have never been more disbursed. Between microstock, macrostock, laughingstock, micro four thirds and Getty Images, about 10 million more people are in the game than were a few decades ago — and yes even those iPhone shooters on EyeEm.

All of which has nothing to do with Flickr and their pro accounts, which was just a title given for paid vs. free accounts.

In the early days, Flickr offered two levels of service, pro or free. Free accounts were limited to sharing only their last 200 images, while pro accounts got unlimited photos on the site. It was a way for people to try Flickr before committing to paying for it, or as Michael Arrington put it back in 2011, a way for Flickr to hold your photos hostage. Most people didn’t pay, but the most serious users did and were recognized with a special little badge labeling them as a cut above the rest. They also didn’t have to look at ads or have ads appear on their photos for others.

Mayer did away with the pro account at Flickr in 2013 and granted every free user a full terabyte of storage on the site with no 200 photo limitation. Flickr opened up and become free and unlimited for 99.999% of potential users (1 terabyte is a lot). This was a *huge* move on Flickr’s part. Replicated enterprise storage is not cheap and I suspect today has become one of the most significant costs for Yahoo in running Flickr.

Well all that changes today with the return of the pro account at Flickr. The new pro is a little different than the old pro, but I think it’s great that Flickr is bringing back pro and think it still represents terrific value for the serious pro or amateur photographer.

Before we get into the new pro, it’s important to point out that for those of us lucky birds who have been grandfathered into the old pro account nothing changes. We still keep our unlimited photo storage, ad free status for both our photos and our browsing, and heck, what a deal, $24.99/year! We will also even get a brand new pro account badge back on our accounts like the new pros.

So what about this new pro account, how does the new pro account work?

Well for starters it’s more expensive than the old pro. The new Flickr pro account will cost you $49.99/year. If you want to you can choose more of a pay as you go model at $5.99/month, but if you do the math that will be considerably more expensive than committing for a year.

For that money you get a few things.

First you get the distinction of a pro icon on your Flickr account. This may sound dumb but really it’s not. Especially on a social network where anonymous trolls can easily create throwaway accounts and blocking tools are really bad, when you see a pro icon on Flickr you will be taken more seriously. You are invested.

More significantly, in my opinion, you get the same ad free status for your own photos and for your own browsing. If you are pro you can rest assured that Aunt Millie will not have to see ads when she looks at your photos of this year’s 4th of July barbecue. Likewise, as you browse Flickr yourself you’ll be completely exempt from having to view any advertising. This alone is worth the price of pro. Any path out of having to view ads is worth it in my opinion. If only Facebook could see the light.

Another interesting deal is that by signing up for pro you can get a 20% discount off of Adobe’s Creative Cloud offer (for the annual subscription only). That’s actually a pretty good bargain. Most serious photographers use Lightroom and Photoshop. At $120/year for Adobe’s Creative Cloud software this pays for about half of your pro account if you use Lightroom and Photoshop.

And then there are stats. I love my pro stats on Flickr. I look at them every day. Maybe it’s just pure vanity or maybe it’s just curiosity about where my Creative Common Non-Commercial licensed Flickr photos are appearing elsewhere online, but I love stats. Not only do pros get access to a sophisticated stats panel, it’s now been improved to give you even more information about your photos.

Finally, you get free shipping on any Flickr merchandise ordered domestically or 50% off shipping for international orders — and just in time for that special Labor Day photo book you were going to make up for your sister-in-law this year — just kidding, but, you know, Yom Kippur will be here before you know it.

Of course the biggest missing feature of the new pro over the old grandfathered pro (lucky me), is the promise of unlimited photo storage. New pro accounts are still limited to the 1 terabyte (which in fairness is more than 99.999% of photographers will ever need, but as someone who has used up 970GB of my 1,000GB by only age 47, I’m glad I still get unlimited). I’m planning on publishing 1,000,000 high res photos to Flickr before I die.

By the way, if you really, really, really want pro but don’t want to pay for it, I suggest you strike up a friendship with Pacdog. I swear that guy has probably bought and given out like 50 pro accounts for his friends over the years. He’s the most humble Donald Trump type character on Flickr pro and very generous with his paid upgrades for his best friends on Flickr.

If you want more info on how to upgrade to pro on Flickr you can find that here.

Thomas Hawk = PURE PRO! You can find me on Flickr here.

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