Archive for March 2016

47 Random Thoughts on Flickr in a Rambling Stream of Consciousness Format

Not exactly beat poetry, this list is a rambling mess of 45 things that I thought about tonight about my favorite photo sharing site Flickr. This list is very poorly written and absolutely lacks coherence. It’s a stream of consciousness jumble of unrelated thoughts about Flickr.

There is no order or rhyme or reason behind any of these thoughts. These are just my thoughts as a heavy user who uses the site every day.

1. Flickr could be the most successful stock photography site in the world. They could be bigger than Getty Images and could become the leader of a multi billion dollar industry.

2. On the Flickr mobile app, comments specifically take too long to load.

3. Yahoo requiring phone numbers to create accounts (and by extension Flickr) greatly reduces the amount of harassment and trolling that takes place on Flickr. This is a positive thing.

4. On the Flickr mobile app you eventually run out of your contacts’ photos. There should be no reason to run out. When people run out and it defaults to a repetitive staple of Flickr promoted photos this encourages the user to close the app and go to another social network. Flickr should strive to keep users in their app for as long as possible.

5. While the “connect” splash page in the mobile app encouraging users to try to hook up their Facebook and Twitter friends in Flickr is likely a good thing, after you have seen this splash screen 500 times it’s just wasting real estate. Flickr should limit the number of times it shows this screen to users or allow users to dismiss it after say 60, 70, 300 times it’s shown and no action is taken.

If you actually click on the “Facebook” button on the connect screen and follow it through, it is the most convoluted mess I’ve ever seen in a mobile app and asks for Facebook verifications, SMS, and all kinds of other things that no user would actually go through.

6. On the Flickr mobile app you can double tap to favorite a photo. Frequently I will accidentally tap the photo once and an unwanted larger version of the photo appears. Instagram does not have this problem. Might there be another gesture to open larger photos or an option for advanced users to disable one click photo opening?

7. Groups were where the magic happened in the early days of Flickr and the conversations that took place in the discussion forums were powerful social lubricant. By diminishing the discussion functionality of Groups, Flickr hurt social on Flickr. Groups can and should be rebuilt and represent Flickr’s greatest possible potential in social. The rebuild should focus on social and conversations over pool photos.

8. Flickr allows you to view your contacts’ photos by contacts and friends and family. More customization here would be helpful. Google+ failed but their idea for circles was interesting. Allowing advanced users the ability to create more than two buckets would be a wonderful power user feature.

9. Sometimes users will change the “date uploaded” on their photos to make their photos appear more often in their followers photos from contacts page. This can be annoying as a consumer of photography, but I get it, they want more views on their photos.

10. Flickr still needs strong block functionality. Facebook has done a much better job here and should be studied. If I block someone or someone blocks me, Flickr should do everything in its power to make sure that we are entirely invisible to each other. This should include making comments invisible from someone you are blocking in all areas of the site, including the help forum and groups especially. When you block someone their photos should not appear in your search results on Flickr.

11. When you block someone their existing comments will be removed from your photos. This should happen faster than it happens at present.

12. My single personal biggest complaint with Flickr today has to do with the photos from my contacts page. As the page adds photos it jumps around. Very often exactly as I’m going to favorite a photo the entire page will jump and I will accidentally open a photo that I did not mean to open. This page should remain static and in place as new photos are loaded.

13. Collections and Profiles should both be included under the “You” menu at the top of the Flickr page.

14. Explore is interesting but it would be more interesting if there were two versions. One for general Flickr and one specifically for the people that you are following.

15. Flickr needs a better way for Flckrmail to work on mobile.

16. The non-app mobile site for flickr m.flickr.com is very slow. Chrome users frequently have to use “request desktop site” to use the web version of Flickr on mobile.

17. Publicly designating Flickr “Pro” accounts as well as prominently showing the date someone joined the site are very helpful tools. It allows users a good way to gauge authenticity of accounts.

18. I never use any of the camera or editing functionality of the flickr mobile app.

19. Flickr is currently the best site on the internet for photo sharing for more serious photographers.

20. On the Flickr photo page there is a “date taken” field. This field should link to the archive view of that date for the photographer in question.

21. I love using SuprSetr for managing my albums on Flickr. I don’t know why when using SuprSetr Flickr’s API limits me to 4,500 photos in an album.

22. Personal interestingness scores seem to have deteriorated over time on Flickr. There especially seems to be given preference for more recent photos, but overall it feels like it’s heavily discounting the value of favorites, comments and other social data. The result is that when using the Flickr API to sort a SuprSetr album by interestingness, it is not really in the best order.

23. Similarly with search on Flickr when you search and rank by interestingness. A photo with 1 favorite should not appear ahead of a photo with 100 favorites.

24. The “albums” page for Flickr users should not have any paging at all, it should infinite scroll forever.

25. Recent Activity is the most important page on Flickr. It is so well done and the ability to filter it by different types of activity is very powerful.

26. I wish Flickr had so much more infinite scroll than it does. While iterating on designs over the past few years there was a point when it had more than it has today. If I had it my way I’d never have to page on Flickr for anything ever.

27. Stats are awesome and worth the price of Pro alone.

28. When looking at your Flickr contacts’ photos if your mouse is over a photo and you press the F key on the keyboard it should favorite that photo.

29. I miss notes in Flickr.

30. In most areas of Flickr they use an empty star for an unfavorited photo and a full white star for a favorited photo — except on the photos from your contacts page where a full white star means the photos is unfavorites and a pink star means the photos if favorited. Flickr should be more consistent. On the photos from your contacts’ page it should be changed to match the format with the rest of the site.

31. When you hover over a tag on Flickr it should tell you who added that tag. Flickr used to do this.

32. Flickr should show more than 6 albums on the main photo page without a user having to click on “show more albums.”

33. I love the fact that flickr uses AI to auto tag my photos with tags that I forgot.

34. Sometimes I feel like I’m interacting with photos from people on Flickr that are just autoposts from their instagram accounts and that these people do not really interact on Flickr. Instagram auto posts to flickr diminish the authenticity of the flickr experience and are much less valuable than organic posts to flickr.

35. Interestingly enough my own personal Instagram to Flickr functionality has been completely broken for about a year. Probably Instagram’s fault though.

36. Sometimes if I put 16 photos in the uploader form to upload some of the photos immediately generate a thumbnail while others might take several minutes to generate a thumbnail. I’m not sure why this is and feel like all photos should generate a thumbnail immediately.

37. It is a very cool thing that Flickr has figured out a way for both regular content and adult oriented content to exist on the same site.

38. I wish there were a way for flickr to identify photos that have signatures, watermarks or borders and then give me an option to eliminate those photos from my search results.

39. Flickr is an amazing tool to find things to photograph if you are going to be visiting some place new. It’s my number one “go to” place for researching things to photograph ahead of any trip that I embark on.

40. I’d love to see “suggested” facial tags for my flickr photo stream that would go into a holding bin for my approval and private photo facial recognition along the lines of what Google Photos offers today, grouping people into private albums.

41. Yahoo Image search should rely much more heavily on Flickr than it does. Flickr has the largest, high quality, highly organized collection of images on the internet today. Yahoo image search should strive to send traffic to Flickr photos over other photos on the web and should weight Flickr images and Flickr tagged images (and especially highly rated interestingness images) very high in their image and web search results.

42. It’s harder for me to blog flickr images on my blog than it used to be. The html doesn’t render right. Having the old code was cleaner.

43. I should be able to have an easy option to exclude certain flickr users from my search results when searching for images on Flickr. This is different than a block, I should just be able to easily exclude a list of users from my search results.

44. With regards to search results there are two different thumbnail views I can select. I wish I had a third that was just a bit bigger and more consistent with the size of photos on the “photos from my contacts’” page.

45. I always visit the Flickr page of anyone who adds me as a contact on Flickr. If I like what I see I add them back. If their photos have signatures, watermarks, or are largely commercial related images I never add them back.

46. You should be able to like or +1 individual comments on Flickr like you can on Facebook and Google+.

47. For some reason I can view the last 1 or 5 photos from my friends but I can only load the last 1 photo from all my contacts. The last 5 photos from my contacts causes the page to hang.

In Defense of Flickr

In Defense of Flickr

I’ve read two articles this week that appear critical of Flickr and thought I’d take a moment to address both, as well as share some of my own thoughts on Flickr. I have been a heavy Flickr photographer for over a decade and for most of this past decade have been active on the site on a daily basis. I’m also active on a number of other photo related and social networking sites as well.

The first article out comes from PhotoShelter’s Allen Murabayashi via Petapixel and is titled, “Flickr’d Out: The Rise and Fall of a Photo Sharing Service.” The second article comes from Wired by David Pierce and is titled, “Time to Give up on Flickr Everybody.

The primary objection in both articles seems to relate to Flickr’s recent decision to limit their desktop uploader to paid Pro accounts only.

Personally speaking I don’t use Flickr’s desktop uploader. I would rather carefully curate my library of images on Flickr than use Flickr as a dumb dumping ground or shoebox for every single photo I’ve ever taken in my life. However, I do understand Flickr’s decision to limit this tool to paid accounts. Storage is not free and replicated enterprise storage is even more costly than your standard 2TB Western Digital or Seagate Amazon special.

My guess (just a guess) as to why Flickr made this change has to do with the value proposition. If some Flickr users were simply using Flickr as a place to backup their desktop photos without really sharing photos or engaging in the site, this might have very limited value to Yahoo. Yahoo is giving users something of value by providing them with a free terabyte of storage for photos, but if free users are just dumping private photos to the site as a backup source and not engaging socially, this significantly diminishes the value to Yahoo. In my mind it makes sense to expect these users to pay for storage. Yahoo could just go on providing everyone this free storage for the goodwill it generates, but this would make it harder for Flickr to remain profitable longer term.

Even though I do not use the desktop uploader, I am a paid Flickr Pro user and have been for over 10 years and will continue to be for probably as long as Flickr continues to exist and honor the terms of my original agreement with them. Flickr remains the primary library for my archive of images for several important reasons.

1. Flickr is giving me an unlimited amount of photo storage as a paid-Pro member. Yes, that is right, as a legacy Pro account Flickr has given me *unlimited* photo sharing. Flickr now limits accounts to 1 terabyte, but for 99.9% of folks that still is effectively unlimited.

Even if you filed up a terabyte though you could always simply open up a second Flickr account if you wanted.

In my case I am actually one of those rare .1% that uses over 1 terabyte. Having uploaded almost 115,000 full sized DSLR high res photos to the site over the past decade my storage use currently stands at 1.07 terabytes of unlimited. If you are lucky enough to have one of the old skool Flickr Pro accounts I’d encourage you to never let it lapse.

2. Flickr allows full high res original JPG uploads. A lot of people point to Google Photos’ free desktop uploader as a reason not to pay for Flickr Pro. However, there is one very important difference between Flickr and Google Photos. Google Photos downsizes and resizes your photos to a high quality web version. While this may be fine for looking at your photos on the web, if you ever need a high res original you will have to pay Google for storage.

Google would charge you $9.99/month for a terabyte of high res original storage which would equate to $119.88/year vs. Flickr Pro at $49.99/year. When announcing the change for their desktop uploader Flickr also offered users a 30% discount so you can get Flickr Pro right now for $34.99/year. $35 a year for a terabyte of full, perfect JPG originals is a pretty good deal in my opinion and less expensive than Google Photos.

I also use Google Photos in addition to my paid Flickr account and think it is a great service as well, but if you are using it as your primary cloud based backup, you should beware that your photos will be downsized unless you pay. In my case, I sell a lot of my photos and most image buyers need a high res original. It’s nice that I can just send them a link to the high res original on Flickr and they can easily download the photo directly from Flickr.

3. Flickr lets me organize my albums by keywords. Albums are very important to me. I have over 2,000 albums at this point. I have albums for my photos that have been favorited 100 times or more. I have albums for photos that have green as the primary color. I have albums of bands and musical acts that I’ve photographed. I have albums for each city of the 100 largest American cities that I’m currently photographing.

Flickr lets me create albums and collections both, but the key difference between Flickr and Google Photos here is that using Flickr’s API, Jeremy Brooks has built SuprSetr which will automatically scan all of my photos and group photos into the correct albums based on the keywords that I enter for my images as part of my workflow in Adobe Lightroom. This automation makes managing albums so much easier.

4. Flickr allows me to share all of my images both publicly and privately. In my case 99% of the images I post to Flickr are public. I like using Flickr as public place to share my archive with the rest of the world. Google Photos services is really designed for private photos only.

On Google Photos you have to share photos or albums manually and public photo sharing is much more difficult. I’ve also found that sharing photos can take up to an hour for a link to work on Google Photos and the whole sharing process is very buggy. I like the feedback that I get on my photos from the broader public on Flickr. I sort of look at Flickr as my own personal art gallery and love that people can browse my photos and favorite, tag and comment.

You can keep photos private on Flickr as well, but it has a much better public option for photos than Google Photos.

5. Flickr is social. Even though Facebook and Instagram are probably considered more social than Flickr, I still find Flickr to be a very social place. I have many old friends and many new friends that I’ve met on Flickr and interact with on a daily basis.

I think Flickr lost a bit of their social when they redesigned groups and shifted the emphasis away from forums and hope that at some point they bring groups back to what they can and should be, but even without strong groups I find the daily social interaction I get from other Flickr users to be a very fun part of using the service for me.

Every day I comment on photos and others comment on mine. I’ve met many people from Flickr personally as I’ve travelled around the country and have found it to be a wonderful engaging and social place for friendships.

6. Flickr Pro is ad-free. This is huge in my book. It seems like every 7th photo I view on Instagram these days is a “sponsored” post. I hate it when I accidently favorite a photo on Instagram only to quickly notice that I just favorited an advertisement for Citigroup or Toyota or Dom Perignon. Advertising on both Facebook and Instagram is getting worse and worse every day it seems. I also don’t like how the ads try to target me.

With a paid Flickr Pro account not only do I never see ads when using the site, but other people who are not Pro don’t have to see ads on my photo pages either. I like that Flickr doesn’t market to my friends as part of our Pro deal.

By the way another one of my favorite social networks, Ello, also is ad-free. Photos on Ello look better than probably anywhere else on the web right now.

7. Flickr has a good system for dealing with nudity and other more adult content. Nudity can be tricky. Google, Facebook and Instagram just ban it outright. Personally I think that the human body can be a beautiful thing and certainly a work of art. It’s not something that offends me.

Flickr allows each user to set the limits for what they want to see. If you only want to see safe for work stuff, you can set Flickr to that for you. If you want to also view NSFW fine art or personal photos you can allow restricted content. By default everyone at Flickr is set to safe only, but if you want to see more provocative photos you can change your settings.

8. Flickr has a very well designed web version and also a really strong mobile app as well. Even though I sometimes complain that Flickr’s mobile app limits the number of my contacts’ photos that I can see, in general it is very well done. It is fast and beautiful and very functional. They really did a terrific job with the app. Similarly the web based redesigns that Flickr has done over the last several years have been very positive in my opinion (even if I do wish there was *MUCH* more infinite scrolling).

Flickr and Google Photos are not the only two web based services to consider for your photos. SmugMug is another nice paid option, especially if you want an ecommerce engine to sell photos (although less social than Flickr). 500px is worth looking at.

Even though I hate the advertising and the massive downsizing of photos I still have accounts on Instagram and Facebook — although I try to spend as little time there as possible.

Ello as mentioned previously is probably the social network I’m most excited about right now (seriously, look how beautiful photos look on Ello).

I also think for pure cloud backup every photographer should be using Amazon’s unlimited photo storage. While Amazon’s download and search functionality could really use work, Amazon will actually store your RAW original files for free if you have a Prime membership.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think everything at Flickr is perfect. I’ve been yammering on for years that they should offer a credible stock photography offering to anyone who will listen. I doubt that they could get this done under a corporate parent like Yahoo, but Flickr probably has the largest highly organized database of high quality images in the world today. If they could turn that into a stock photography business by partnering with (and rewarding) their photographers, I honestly believe it could be bigger than Getty Images, the current king of the multi billion dollar stock photography business.

I also think that Groups on Flickr could be so much more powerful if only organized right and really focused on the discussion threads more than as dumping pools for images.

Explore and interestingness could also be overhauled in some very powerful ways.

Even as Flickr remains less than perfect it still remains in my mind the best place to host your primary archive of photos on the web for photo sharing and for that reason I take issue with the two posts I read this week suggesting the decline of Flickr. For me Flickr is alive and well and I’m looking forward to spending the next decade on the site much like the last.

You can find me on Flickr here. Stop by and say hi some time — let’s be friends. 🙂