Archive for the ‘Flickr’ Category

Flickr’s New Home Page is Fantastic!

New Flickr Feed on the Flickr Home Page

Even in the new Instagram, Facebook, Snapchatty world, Flickr still remains my favorite place to share photos. I have now posted over 120,000 photos to Flickr and it remains my primary online archive for my body of work. Even though you don’t hear about Flickr as much in the headlines these days, there is still a very robust community there who shares great work every single day. I usually post two batches of photos each day to Flickr, once in the morning and once in the evening.

The value proposition for Flickr is compelling. Both free and $49/year Pro accounts offer 1 terabyte of storage for your photos. One terabyte should be enough for almost every photographer out there today. Fortunately for me, I’ve been grandfathered into the old Flickr Pro account structure, which allows *unlimited* photo storage. I have already passed 1 terabyte at Flickr, but I am a very rare outlier. 99.9% of the photographers using Flickr today are nowhere close to this limit.

In addition to generous storage, Flickr also gives both Pro and free accounts a terrific iPhone/Android app and a beautiful web experience. Where Facebook and Instagram downsize and degrade your photos, Flickr allows you to host your full high resolution original JPGs. This also makes Flickr a great place as an additional layer of backup for published JPG images. Pro accounts also get ad free browsing and sharing (that’s why even free accounts don’t see advertisements on my photo pages) which makes the account worth the $49 a year alone. There are also some nice additional benefits to going Pro.

Recently Flickr made a very significant change to the web version of the site., the main home page has been completely redesigned and in my opinion is 1000% better.

You may or may not have the new home page yet, but they are slowly rolling it out to everybody over time. If you haven’t been to in a while I’d encourage you to check the new feed page out. You have to be logged in to see the new changes, but they make following your Flickr friend’s photos such a better experience.

Several new design elements have been brought into the new feed page.

1. There is now a three column layout. Photos are easy to browse and you can just scroll down the page looking at photos from your contacts.

Previews in the New Flickr Feed Look Awesome!

2. Preview. This is my favorite feature of the new feed. If you see a photo on a page that you want to see larger you just click on it. The photo instantly blows up big and beautiful in a very clean version on your screen. Even better, Flickr has incorporated keyboard commands to the large view of these previews, so if I like a photo and want to favorite it or comment on it I can just press the F or C key on my keyboard. If someone has uploaded multiple photos in a batch (like I usually do) I can also easily use the forward and backward arrow keys to go through a batch of photos, easily interacting with each image with my keyboard commands.

Once you are done looking and interacting with a batch of photos using preview, you can just hit the escape key and it takes you right back where you were to your place in feed. Very slick!

Previously if I wanted to go through my contacts’ photos I would have to go to the “People” menu item which was a very glitchy page that bounced around too much on page reloads. I still use the People tab because it allows me to filter between friends/contacts photos and sometimes I just have time to look at my friend’s images, but I’m finding that I’m spending the majority of my time following my contacts’ images through the new feed page. I also like that it includes entire batches of photos that I can click through if I want whereas the old People page only would show the last 1 or 5 images depending on how I set it.

In addition to providing a great new way to look at your contacts’ photos huge, the new page is very fluid and very fast. It feels like a big tech breakthrough vs. the old People page.

Please, Please, Please Make this Load More Button Go Away

My only complaint about the new page is that like other pages on Flickr it still makes you hit the dreaded “load more” button when you get to the bottom of the page. I wish that Flickr used true infinite scroll like Facebook does. It is such a better experience.

At first I did not like that you cannot fave/comment on batches of photos directly from the page, but after playing around with preview and seeing how well it worked and how fast it was, combined with awesome keyboard shortcut commands, I became a convert and now has earned a coveted spot on my bookmarks bar. Hats off to the Flickr design and engineering team for such an awesome improvement to the site. 🙂

There is a help forum thread on the new Flickr feed where you can read more about the new Flickr feed and see what others think of it here.

You can follow my work on Flickr here. 🙂

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 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. 🙂

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.

More Thoughts on Google Photos

More Thoughts on Google Photos

Last week when Google Photos launched, I quickly tested it out and then wrote a post with my immediate initial reaction to the service. Much of my early disappointment centered around the fact that Google chose to limit the size of photos in the service to 16 megapixels. As a DSLR shooter this meant that a large portion of my library would be downsized with Google Photos. Bummer.

Flickr by contrast offers every user 1TB of free storage for your photos (which is more than 99.999% of photographers need at present) at full original high resolution.

So in my mind this made Flickr’s free offering a vastly superior offering over Google Photo’s free offering. Flickr’s had that offer out for a while now which is why I hoped that Google would respond by offering us a similar 1TB (or more) of full high res original storage. Google Photos will let you have a terabyte of storage for your high res photos as well, it will just cost you $120 per year vs. Flickr’s free deal.

David Pogue (who works for Yahoo) wrote up a thoughtful review today comparing Google Photos and Flickr and made the same observation pointing to the negative of Google downsizing your original photos in Google Photos.

Despite my disappointment about Google’s decision to downsize our photos with the free version of their product, after having spent a week seriously digging into Google Photos, I’m much more optimistic about the service than I was a week ago. There’s a lot to love here.

1. Google Photos will back up your RAW files.

At present I have two Drobo 5D units with 15TB worth of storage in each of them. In addition, I’ve got an 8TB Western Digital MyBook thunderbolt duo.

I don’t actually have 38TB of storage because both the Drobo and the Western Digital (each in their own way) replicate my data. This protects me against hard drive failure. While it doesn’t necessarily protect me against fire or theft, this is a pretty good first line of defense. Most of the storage that I’m using right now is dedicated to the hundreds of thousands (million?) of RAW frames that I’ve fired off over the last 10 years. These are my RAW, unedited, original negative files.

Flickr does not support RAW yet — although Flickr’s former Chief Bernardo Hernandez mentioned in a tweet after he left that RAW was “coming at some point,” at Flickr.

Even though I am losing a lot of data when Google Photos converts my RAW files to JPG photos and also downsizes them, something (for free) is better than nothing.

While it is still my responsibility to come up with a better suitable offsite backup solution for my terabytes of RAW photos, until I do I’d rather have a converted, compressed 16 megapixel version of my photo backed up online than nothing. I’ve been planning for a year or so now to duplicate all of my original RAW files and then store them on drives in a safety deposit box in a bank vault, but until I get around to doing that it’s nice to know that I’ll have at least an inferior version of my original RAW backed up online.

2. Google’s free offering is unlimited.

Flickr currently gives everyone a free terabyte of storage for your high res originals. In his review Pogue said that Flickr told him that less than 50 users out of 100 million are actually using over 1 terabyte.

One terabyte certainly seems more than enough for Flickr’s present offering for most people. I am one of those few prolific photographers who will exceed the 1 terabyte limit though. At present I’ve uploaded about 950 gigabytes to Flickr (which is about 105,769 high res photos) and I should cross the one terabyte limit sometime within the next year.

Fortunately for me, I was one of the original early Flickr users who signed up for their old paid “Pro” service ($24.99 per year). This service has since been discontinued, but old “Pro” accounts have been grandfathered their original unlimited high res storage deal and so I won’t need to worry about exceeding one terabyte when I hit it later this year.

Although I’m an extreme edge case, if we assume that in the future camera makers will continue pushing technology with more and more megapixels (i.e. larger and larger files) and at the same time people begin taking more and more photos, I can see where a lot more people than 50 will end up exceeding their free terabyte at Flickr over the course of their life.

While Yahoo could always extend the offer to two terabytes or raise their limits as people’s storage use increases over their lives, there is no guarantee that they will. It would be a bummer if you spent 10 years uploading all of your photos to Flickr and then ran out of space, which sounds unlikely, but might actually be more likely than we realize, especially given that some of us may actually live to be 150 or more in the future!

Google Photos by contrast is offering unlimited storage if you downsize your photos.

More Thoughts on Google Photos 2

3. Google has interesting facial recognition software.

Google’s facial recognition software is pretty slick. It’s very clever how the software can actually track a face as it ages and include a baby photo in the same batch of photos of someone when they are older. It seems to work best where you have a lot of photos for them to analyze and I found photos of my family members were much more accurately grouped than photos of strangers in crowds or people who I only have one or two photos of.

Flickr doesn’t do facial recognition yet, but I bet it’s something that they are working on. One of the advantages that Google has over Flickr here though is that their service is 100% a private service. 100% of your photos on Google can only be seen by your account unless you manually choose to create a link and share it with others. Facial recognition software can be scary stuff and even though Google doesn’t attach names and faces together, it’s the sort of thing that people get easily freaked out over.

Flickr is a hybrid public/private service. Even though by default you can upload your photos privately to Flickr, you can also upload them publicly by default as well. Sometimes even a simple thing like a public vs. private setting on a photo can be screwed up by your average user. It’s not that Flickr won’t offer facial recognition in the future (they probably will) it’s just that they probably need to think a little bit more about privacy and the implications of people accidently making things public that they might not want to.

4. Google Photos Assistant is fun.

Although we’ve all probably seen way too many gifs in our lifetime already, when your own photos are turned into gifs just for you it can still be delightful. Because my photos are personal to me, I find that I’m enjoying Google Photos gifs much more than I thought I would.

If someone else posted a gif of Jerry Seinfield moving his microphone stand around on stage I’d probably think it was boring, but when I was actually at the comedy show and watched him do it, and the gif was made from my photos, somehow it makes it more interesting to me. Most people could care less about my dog Bucky sitting in my friend Scott Jordan’s Pocketmobile, but it tickles me to see it — and Scott will probably like it too and I can share it with him and I bet he even posts it on Facebook. 😉

I find myself going back to my Google Photos assistant several times a day and hoping that they will have more treats for me.

5. Google Photos is an interesting digital diary.

Although Flickr has Camera Roll, Flickr doesn’t include all of my RAW photos so it is not as complete as Google Photos is turning out to be for me. I’m finding it more enjoyable to just randomly choose times in my life and scroll through my photos on Google Photos. There’s something about all the bad photos, unedited, raw material that feels like a more complete digital diary for me than the finished processed photos I’m posting on Flickr. I’d never want anyone else to see my raw material unedited and bad photos, but just for my eyes only I’m finding it a very interesting experience.

It will be interesting to me to see how I like Google Photos as my digital diary when I’ve finally got everything uploaded into the service. In my case, I have a feeling that this will take a few years. So far I’ve uploaded 39,312 to the site in a little over a week. I’ve had it running pretty much non-stop since Google Photos launched. Sometimes it feels like it’s hanging and I’ll force Google Photos to quit and relaunch it, but still, it’s going to take a long, long time to get all of my photos up there. By the way, Google Photos doesn’t provide you a photo count of your photos, but if you want to see how many you have uploaded you can get that number here (it’s in light gray in the upper right hand corner).

6. Google can give you back all of your photos at once.

One of the things that I like about Google Photos is that they give me an option to get all of my photos back at once. While Flickr will let you get all of your photos back as well, you have to manually drag and select your photos at Flickr (or use an album) to get them put into a zip file that they send you. With tens or even hundreds of thousands of photos online, I like the way that Google can deliver all of my photos back to me better. Although I don’t ever plan on having to get all of my photos back at once, I feel good knowing that Google will let me have them all back with just a few clicks vs. Flickr’s more difficult way.

7. No ads.

It’s nice that Google is giving you Google Photos completely ad-free. Although as a paid Pro Flickr user my Flickr experience is also ad-free, Flickr’s free service does/will have ads. When I’ve browsed Flickr outside of my Pro account I’ve noticed ads every so often. They don’t feel very disruptive, but still, no ads are always better than even just a little.

I did think it was interesting earlier this week when it felt like Apple CEO Tim Cook took a pretty direct swipe at Google’s new photo offering in a speech that he gave highlighting the importance of your digital privacy.

“We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is,” said Cook.

Cook’s comment does make you think just a little bit about how much data you may end up giving sites like Google Photos and Flickr with all of these photos. On the other hand, I’m sure a lot of people probably wonder why you’d want to pay for Apple’s iCloud storage when Google or Flickr will give you all you need for free. Google and Flickr are competitors to Apple’s paid storage service and so you have to wonder how much of Cook’s warning is dire vs. how much is just that he’d rather you pay Apple to store your photos for you than let Flickr or Google do it for free.

Anyways, those are my more detailed thoughts on Google Photos thus far. I’m sure I’ll blog more about Google Photos as I use it more, but after a week of use I have a much more optimistic view of it than I thought I would. I find myself using it much more and going back to it several times a day over and over again.

Disclaimer: yeah, yeah, yeah, nothing is forever (except diamonds right?), both Flickr and Google could always renege on whatever deal they currently are marketing out there. Google Photos was made for mobile users, not for more high megapixel storage people like me, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Thoughts on Google Photos

New Collections Page from Google Photos

Google launched Google Photos today.

For months now people have been talking about how Google was going to decouple photos from Google+ and create a standalone photo product and today at I/O they finally unveiled their latest effort to the world.

Last August when rumors about this new service started circulating I wrote a blog post titled 10 things Google should consider in launching a standalone photo sharing service. Here I outlined ways that Google could come up with a very competitive product in the photo sharing space. Google could have given the world something really amazing today and instead we just got something lackluster.

The new offering is fine, but in a lot of ways it is a big disappointment to me.

The biggest part of today’s announcement was that Google was going to give every user unlimited photo storage.

That sounded pretty good until I understood the catch. The catch is that the unlimited photo storage offer only applies to photos 16 megapixel or smaller.

Although it may be tempting to write this off as a “Pro” problem as most modern DSLRs today shoot over 16 megapixel, there are also a lot of new non-pro consumer cameras that shoot over 16 megapixel today too. Heck, there’s even a mobile phone out now (admittedly an outlier) shooting at 41 megapixel. So what this means is that almost every DSLR out today, along with many smaller consumer cameras, will require your Google Photos images to be downsized.

It’s not just Canon and Nikon DSLRs that produce images over 16 megapixel today, but many models of popular mirrorless and consumer cameras by Panasonic Lumix, Sony, Olympus, etc. Here is a list of currently manufactured digital cameras 15 megapixels and above which shows some models and brands this might include.

While I do understand that storing photos is not cheap, I do not understand why Yahoo’s Flickr is able/willing to give every user a full terabyte of full high res original photo storage, and Google, a company almost 10x the size of Yahoo by market cap cannot or will not. Flickr raised the bar when they offered every user a free terabyte of high res photo storage and Google’s response is to offer us unlimited downsized and compressed photos? Come on Google, you can do better than that!

The other problem is that the camera manufacturers (for better or worse) are in a war of who can raise megapixels the most. Earlier this year Canon came out with a mindblowing 50.6 megapixel 5DS. 16 megapixels is going to feel smaller and smaller as new and better camera, and even mobile phone technology is released.

If this was the year 2003 and Canon had just released the 6.3 10D, this might make sense to me — but in 2015? No way.

While you can purchase Google Drive storage for your photos over 16 megapixel at Google, 1TB of high res storage at Google would cost you $120/year — the same thing that Flickr will give you for free.

In my case I have one of the old grandfathered Flickr Pro accounts where for $24.95/year I get even more than 1 terabyte of high res storage on Flickr, I actually get unlimited (I’m currently using about 940 GB of my unlimited storage on Flickr, which is a lot).

The other main thing missing from this new offering by Google is social. While Google has had a tough time with social and I get why they are wary of it, I was hoping that there would be a social element to their new photo service. Instead, every photo you upload to Google Photos is private only for you and you then share out your photos to other platforms. One of the most exciting things about Flickr is that there are a lot of social components to the site. While photos are uploaded as private to Flickr by default (like Google), you have the option of making these photos public and sharing them with other users on the site.

While you can use Google and Flickr both as private shoeboxes for all of your photos, I like that Flickr gives you the option to turn your photos public and share them with the world. 99.99% of the photos that I upload to the web are meant to be shared publicly and so I was disappointed that Google didn’t deliver us anything here today. Google does still have Google+, or course, where you can share your photos too and be social, but that’s an entirely different site that you leave Google Photos to go use. Flickr does a much better job at combining both private and social.

Google did showcase some other features with photos today. They released a sort of timeline camera roll view and some image recognition technology. What I saw today was very similar to what I saw two weeks ago when Yahoo rolled out Flickr 4.0. I’m not saying Google copied Flickr here, but it is odd how Flickr shipped these almost identical features two weeks before Google did. Whatever the case, I’m not terribly excited by camera rolls from Google or Flickr, although I do see where they would be helpful and nice features for the broader mass market audience.

I prefer to organize my photos myself rather than have an algorithm try to do it for me. I carefully keyword each of my photos in Lightroom and when I upload them to Flickr I’m able to create smart albums (like smart playlists in iTunes) where I can organize my photos into albums by keywords. That’s something that I still can’t do at Google Photos today, at least not in the automated way that I do it with SuprSetr.

I am glad that Google is still investing time and development into photos. For a while there when they first launched Google+ it really felt like they were going to do something spectacular with photos, today, unfortunately, not as much. To me, today’s offering feels more like a step back from Google+ to Picasa circa 2004.

More Thoughts on Flickr 4.0

More Thoughts on Flickr 4.0

Having had a few weeks now to spend significant time exploring Flickr 4.0, I thought I’d write up another more detailed post about my ongoing thoughts on the recent update by Flickr.

1. Autotagging. Autotagging has received a mixed reception by the Flickr community as well as the broader press. Initially a lot of the Flickr diehards have very vocally opposed it.

On the one hand, every time Flickr makes any change whatsoever a certain segment of the community will vocally oppose it no matter what the change is. The “who moved my cheese” crowd is strong and vocal at Flickr, so it’s easy to dismiss at least some of the initial criticism from the community as typical and predictable. On the other hand, many people have spent hundreds of hours organizing their tags on their Flickr photos and have a certain sort of emotional connection around tagging as it relates to their photos, which are very personal.

Any time you try to use image recognition software to recognize things you will get false positives. This is no different at Flickr. The more sensational the press can spin a story, the more clicks they end up getting. This week you saw news outlets like the Daily Mail come out with stories highlighting that Flickr was tagging concentration camps jungle gyms and black people apes. CNN reported that “Flickr’s new auto-tags are racist and offensive.” This is bad because most of the general public make assumptions based on headlines without thinking deeper about the issues at hand and most are not intimately involved with the inner mechanics of Flickr.

We also saw Google called racist this week because the White House was associated with a search for a derogatory racial term.

Personally, I’m more optimistic about Flickr using image search technology going forward and hope that the bad PR doesn’t set their efforts back there. Flickr and Yahoo are not racist (either is Google). The people who work there are a very well meaning and forward thinking group. I’m sure they will work on their algorithm to get it more and more accurate, but part of that accuracy involves getting feedback from their community when inaccuracies arise. Longer-term I think we will all benefit from having more accurate and complete search available through Flickr.

There is also part of me that wonders if Flickr’s autotagging efforts are not part of a longer-term effort to better organize this content in order to eventually partner with their community in a more significant way with stock photography. Stock photography is a multi-billion dollar business. Flickr is probably the most potentially disruptive site out there to this industry. As Yahoo thinks about monetizing Flickr in a more meaningful way, the better organized their library the more successfully they might be able to do this.

I do think Flickr should offer a setting to opt out of autotagging and I’m guessing they probably will eventually. If autotagging is on by default 99.9% of Flick users will still be using it. By creating an setting to opt out this would be an immediate way to deflect the criticism from the vocal power users that dislike it.

2. Search. Unfortunately my initial enthusiasm for search has been fading fast the past two weeks. While search looks cleaner and I do like the new view of smaller thumbnails that allow me to browse search results quickly, I’ve lost one of the most important functions of search, which is to search by my contacts.

Over the past 10 years I’ve carefully and methodically built a very large number of contacts whose photography I like and want to see more of. When I’m interested in photos of a particular subject, location, event, etc., I always do searches filtered by my contacts. This allows me the highest quality search results and gets rid of all the noisy, watermarked, junky, inaccurate images that oftentimes come up a broader search of everybody’s photos.

With the new search functionality this filtering capability is completely broken for me. What bums me out even more is that this broken functionality for my search experience is most likely affecting only people with a large number of contacts (like me) and thus is not likely to be addressed or fixed by Flickr for a long, long time.

Search is one of the most significant ways I use Flickr and with the update it is now dramatically worse for me.

Also, although I do like the two smaller view options Flickr gives you for search (a small sized photo or a thumbnail option), I do find myself missing the old larger views at the same time. Sometimes you want to search Flickr with images small so you can go fast, but other times you want to search Flickr to more carefully examine photos and here at least a medium view option would be nice to have back.

Maybe Flickr could have three possible views, medium, small and thumbnail.

One of the new features with the new search is that you can now search by date taken in addition to date posted. While date taken and posted are somewhat similar, I do see how date taken will become more and more useful over time, especially when using Flickr to search for breaking news.

3. As far as the Camera Roll and the uploader, I’m finding that I’m not using either. This doesn’t mean they are not important though. For more casual users having a view like this makes sense as a way to try to organize their offline photos in the cloud. I think this is really important for most casual users and as a way for Flickr to appeal to a broader general audience.

Personally, I carefully keyword all of my photos in Adobe Lightroom before uploading them to Flickr and then I use Jeremy Brook’s brilliant program SuprSetr to build albums based on these keywords. The only negative with this approach is that Flickr limits my sets to 4,500 photos when using Jeremy’s SuprSetr. 🙁

Magic view was fun to look at once, but I probably will never use it or go back. I prefer the way that I’ve organized my photos more than Flickr’s auto-organization.

I don’t use the uploader because for me Flickr is not a personal shoebox for all of my photos. Rather, for me, Flickr is a place to present and share my photos to the world. I don’t want random photos from my hard drive cluttering up my Flickr photostream even if they are private. 99.99% of the photos I publish to Flickr are public and the current web page uploader does a good enough job getting two batches a day up for me (except not last weekend).

4. The Flickr mobile app. To me the new Flickr mobile app is slightly better than the old app but it’s still far from ideal.

My biggest criticism is that sometimes it is so slow, laggy and clunky. Again, some of these issues may affect me more adversely than others because of the way I power use Flickr, but I find that going to my notifications can take 20-60 seconds sometimes on an LTE or wifi connection and that is just too long to have to wait. Sometimes it does go faster, but typically after not using it for a period of hours it frequently is just painful to use. It comes and goes, but I don’t have a consistent, fast experience with the mobile app. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and most of all Instagram are so much responsive for me when I use them than the Flickr app.

Another problem I have with the app is that frequently I’ll want to favorite a photo and so I double tap on it to do this, but Flickr misreads my attempted double tap and thinks I want to open the photo up and see it large instead. I’m not really sure that there is a solution to that problem, but it’s one that frustrates me that I don’t have with Instagram.

I also find that if I look at my contact’s photos for more than about 10 minutes or so I run out of photos to look at and Flickr defaults “suggested” photos that I’ve already seen and favorited months ago. Sometimes I’ll be sitting on the train for more than 10 minutes, or working out, or doing something where I want to spend more than 10 minutes browsing my contact’s photos and wish that Flickr could expand the number of photos I’m allowed to see from my contacts on the mobile app.

I don’t use the camera or the camera roll on the Flickr app at all. I use my iPhone’s camera and then edit with Snapseed or Priime which offer far more robust editing capabilities.

5. The new album view. The new album view is more of a postscript to the new Flickr 4.0 than a part of the initial release. Earlier this week Flickr changed the primary album view on Flickr incorporating supersized huge photos into the album view layout. I really like this change. I think photos look sooooooo much better full-sized and large (which is one of the reasons why I enjoy Ello so much). Predictably many in the help forum hate this new view as they hate all change.

I do think the header in the new album view is too large. I also think that Flickr should only choose photos to enlarge that are high res originals and that fit the crop format of their large view. Small sized photos or mobile photos don’t look as good as DSLR photos when blown up huge. Also having a bad crop on a large view, really makes that view look bad.

In other news around Flickr’s new release, Bernardo Hernandez, who was managing Flickr resigned shortly after the new launch. I like Bernardo a lot and think that he was a very good leader for Flickr. After so many years in the wilderness with really ineffective management, I think Bernardo (and Markus Spiering before him) did a really good job promoting positive change at Flickr. I hope that whoever ends up replacing him is as strong and committed to the potential for what Flickr can become. After leaving Flickr, Bernardo did tweet that Flickr would be offering up support for RAW photos, this was the first time I’d seen this mentioned anywhere online and think that RAW support would be a huge positive for Flickr — especially given that Google is supposedly coming out with something new in the photo sharing space potentially as soon as the end of this month.

It’s been refreshing watching how serious a contender Flickr has become in the photo sharing world since Marissa Mayer took the helm at Yahoo. Along with Bernardo and Markus, she and everyone working on the Flickr team deserve a ton of credit for orchestrating such a remarkable turnaround over the course of the last several years. Flickr continues to get better and better and really is turning into something much better than I ever would have thought 4 years ago. I still can’t believe that I’ve been on Flickr over 10 years now and am definitely looking forward to the next 10.

Consistency in Design

I’m a big fan of the new Flickr. Despite a few bumps along the way, like last weekend’s uploading fiasco, it feels like a new fresher Flickr and I think the fact that people can download their photos now in bulk will be a wonderful way to attract new talent to the site.

There are two little things that bug me about Flickr right now though. They are unimportant in the big picture of things, but the compulsive side of me tends to focus on the little things sometimes.


The first is the artifacting that takes place around icon that tells you if a photo is favorited or not or commented on not when you hover. Something just doesn’t seem right to me about this. It’s not a big deal for sure, but I wonder if Steve Jobs would let something like this fly? There appears to be two little dots around the star and the comment bubble seems cut off for me. I wonder if there is a way that this can be fixed?

Flickr Favorite
On most of Flickr a full white star means a photo has been favorited.

Flickr Non Favorite
On most of Flickr an empty white star means a photo has *not* been favorited.

Flickr Favorite 2
On the “photos from your contacts” page a colored pink star means a photo has been favorited.

Flickr Non Favorite 2
On the “photos from your contacts” page a full white star means your photo has *not* been favorited.

The second problem is a more serious one and something I’m sure will be addressed when Flickr rolls out their new page build to the “photos from your contacts” page — here the problem has to do with consistency in design.

On most places when you favorite a photo on Flickr it turns an empty star into a full white filled star — but on the photos from your contacts page, it’s confusing. On the photos from your contacts page a full white star actually means the opposite, that a photo is *not* favorited, here the signal for a favorited photo is a colored pink star.

As your eyes learn Flickr you become accustomed to seeing an empty or full white star to signal to you if it’s favorited or not, but when you go to this one page on Flickr and see a full white star it means the opposite.

As Flickr rolls out their new page design to other areas of this site I’m sure that this inconsistency will be fixed.

I’ve got a more serious problem with the “photos from your contacts page” that only affects some accounts at Flickr, and that is that the page is jumpy and unstable when I browse it. This is not a universal problem though and one that is only affecting some accounts (unfortunately mine is one) at the present time.

These are first world problems for sure. With each new build Flickr gets better and better, and the team should be commended for doing such a great job these days.

Flickr Users Unable to Upload Photos All Weekend Long While Flickr Staffers Take the Weekend Off

Flickr Weekend Upload Problems

Usually I publish photographs to Flickr twice a day, in the morning and in the evening — random batch of 16 photos in the a.m. and in the p.m. This morning I cannot upload a single photo. For the entire weekend I have not been able to batch upload to Flickr at all and have resorted to uploading photos one by one by one with consistent upload failure with each new attempt.

If this were happening at Facebook, it would be the top story on Techmeme — but because it’s just Yahoo and Flickr, it doesn’t get that sort of attention.

It’s not just me that this is happening to. The Flickr Help Forum has been littered with threads all weekend long where users are angry about not being able to upload photos to the site.

Failed to Upload

Cannot Upload Any Photos!
Video upload problems
Consistent upload failures and disconnect errors
Very slow upload speed
Uploadr gives error when attempting to Sign in
UPLOAD Servers speed DOWN to 3 %(max)
Can’t Upload Photos with Mac Yosemite
Upload Problems
Uploading not possible at 2/3 it stops
[BUG] Upload speed
Can’t upload

These are all Flickr discussions in their help forum active over the course of the last 3 hours. If you go back further, you will find that for the entire weekend a large chunk of Flickr users have been able to upload images reliably to Flickr.

Files Not Uploading

While being unable to upload photos to a photo sharing site is a problem, to me the bigger problem is that at a company with Yahoo’s resources not a single Flickr staffer seems to be assigned to review their active and public help forum.

While I get that Flickr staffers deserve a weekend off like everyone else, someone at Flickr should be assigned to the company’s very public help forum 24/7. An acknowledgement from staff that they are aware of the problem and working on it goes a long way — but to leave frustrated users twisting in the wind all weekend long just makes a bad situation that much worse.

This uploading problem is a bad technical problem to deal with I’m sure, but basic customer service should be something that Flickr is capable of given the deep resources of Yahoo behind them. Flickr/Yahoo can and should do better.

The only thing that in any way resembles any source of staff involvement comes from one of the help forum threads where a Flickr staffer who goes by the name “Alex” reportedly claims in response to a service inquiry that everything is fine on his end and that he’s able to upload 100 photos in under 5 seconds.

Even when Flickr was at it’s peak, you cannot upload 100 photos in under 5 seconds. No service on the internet would do such a feat, not Google, not Facebook, nor any other site. The fact that this is allowed to stand as the closest thing to staff response is unfortunate.

Flickr just rolled out a wonderful new version of Flickr this past week. Especially the weekend after a major new effort such as this, Flickr/Yahoo should be watching things closer and be much more responsive to their users. Hopefully Flickr doesn’t now let an entire Monday go by without acknowledging such a disruption to their service.

Update #1: Shortly after 8am this morning, Flickr staffer Wilson Lam acknowledged the problems at Flickr with uploading.

Update #2: Flickr Community Manager Matthew Almon Roth opened up a new thread apologizing for the upload issues over the weekend. According to Roth, “the sources of the issues are varied, but they have to do with a massive increase in uploads with the new Mac and Windows Uploadrs and Auto-upload in the mobile apps.

“We’ve seen consecutive days of new upload records for Flickr, smashing previous maximum upload days, and we’ve been working around the clock to make sure our infrastructure keeps up with demand. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused many of you and we hope to have all issues resolved as soon as possible,” wrote Roth.

Update #3: I was just able to upload a batch of 16 photos without any issue. It looks like progress is being made with regards to this frustrating problem.

Today’s New Version of Flickr Implements Bulk Downloading of Your Photos — Your Photos Really Do Belong to You

Flickr Rolls Out New Search, Camera Roll and Batch Download Improvements

Today Flickr is launching a number of new improvements to their service. I’ll review what they are in this post, but in my mind the most significant change coming today is that Flickr is introducing the ability for you to bulk download your photos from their site.

I’ve been critical of Flickr in the past over the inability to easily get your photos back out of the service. While not a silo, Flickr’s never made it exactly easy to get your photos back after you upload them.

You’ve always been able to download your photos on a photo by photo basis, but for someone with a ton of photos, downloading each and every one individually isn’t very practical or user friendly. For a while Flickr had partnered up with a company called Qoop (now out of business) that would bulk load your photos to CDs or DVDs and sell them back to you, but that never sat right with me either — why should you have to pay to get your own photos back? Also for someone like me with over 100,000 photos on the site, how many CDs would that take and how much would *that* cost?

Several third party developers had developed apps that claimed to be able to use the Flickr API to bulk download your photos for you. I tried many of these apps with names like bulkr and migratr and flickrsync over the years and never found any of them very reliable or easy to use.

All that changes today though as Flickr rolls out official support for batch downloading your photos from Flickr.

Now you can fill up that free 1 terabyte (or unlimited terabytes if you’ve got a grandfathered Pro account) with confidence knowing that if you ever want/need those photos back from Flickr you’ll be able to get them back much more easily. As I understand it, there still may be photo limits for how many individual photos you can select in camera roll for a single download for performance reasons, but you can select large batches of photos from the new camera roll and Flickr will convert those photos into a zip file for you and send them right back to you on your computer. The number of photos you can download is unlimited. You can download multiple zip files effectively accessing 100% of your photostream.

Today’s new support for downloading is a very consumer friendly thing for Flickr to do. It is already very generous for Flickr to give people 1 terabyte of free cloud storage for your high res original photos, but now allowing you to get them back as easily as you upload them there makes this even more generous. Kudos to Flickr.

This new download support is part of a new section on Flickr called “Camera Roll.” Camera Roll has been in beta testing for several months now, but this downloading feature is newly available today.

In addition to download support, Flickr also now allows you to easily grab a batch of photos from your camera roll and share them as sort of an album on the fly via url. This can be helpful if you have a batch of recent or specific photos that you want to email to one person, or share on Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere — with this new feature you just select them in camera roll and create a shareable url. Even if you have photos marked private you can share them with others with these special url links — sort of like a shareable guest pass but much easier to generate on the go.

Flickr is also going deeper now with deep machine learning with Camera Roll. In addition to viewing your photos by date taken or posted, Flickr is now adding in a New Magic View, where Flickr will auto tag many of your photos and build them into commonly grouped albums. You can see all of your sunset photos in one place, or all of your group photo shots in one place, or all of your photos of automobiles, etc.

Some of you who go wayyy back with Flickr, might remember the old Tag Cow company which would do similar tagging for you of your photos. In Tag Cow’s case though they were actually using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and hiring people in places like India and China to manually review and tag your photos for pennies.

Magic View is no Tag Cow though. Instead Flickr is actually using image recognition technology (remember this acquisition?) and algorithms to determine what your photos are of and then auto-tagging them based on this technology. If Flickr gets a tag wrong you will always be able to manually remove the automated tag. The tags that you add will be in a different shade than the auto-tags making it easy to see which ones you added and which ones Flickr added based on this technology.

One of the benefits of having more/better tagged photos on Flickr is that it will allow more public photos to be findable and searchable. This public/private distinction is important because private photos on Flickr are never searchable, except to you.

Which brings me to search.

I am a HUGE fan of the new Flickr search experience. I’ve spent hundreds if not thousands of hours using the search functionality of Flickr. I routinely use Flickr search to scout photo locations, find people shooting in a particular area, stay on top of events happening around the San Francisco Bay Area, and tons of other ways. The new search page is clean and fast. In addition to date posted, interestingness and relevancy you can also now search Flickr photos by date taken.

Flickr’s done an entire rebuild of the back end of the search page to make it super fast and responsive — they will also be porting this new rebuilt page technology to other pages in the weeks and months ahead to improve performance on many other popular Flickr pages.

Although I consider myself a fairly advanced search technician when it comes to Flickr, for many who are not as sophisticated, basic text searches will be smarter. In the past if you wanted to search for the London Eye you’d have to search for “London Eye” with quotes, or merge the two words together as londoneye. With the new search if you type London Eye just as plain text, Flickr is smarter and will realize that you want to see photos of the London Eye not random photos of London mixed in with random photos of eyeballs.

Flickr has also introduced some slick filters which will allow you to filter by colors (or black and white), photo styles such as depth of field photos or minimalistic photos or heavily patterned photos. Unfortunately there still is no filter to only show me photos without those pesky and ugly signatures and watermarks though. 😉

In addition to Camera Roll and improved search, Flickr is also updating their mobile apps for iOS and Android, to provide a more consistent experience. My iOS experience on Flickr has not been good the past few months. Recent activity for me has become completely jumbled and unusable, which is more of a power user problem I think than anything. I’m hoping that the refresh fixes this bug for me — maybe not though. I do like to use the mobile version when I have a few minutes for looking at and favoriting photos of my contacts and it will be interesting to see what this is like once I upgrade.

The changes Flickr is rolling out today continue to make Flickr better and better — a trend that’s continued over the past several years as Flickr has ramped up staff and built a better and stronger team.

No other company today will give you a free terabyte of photo storage for your high res photos.

It always boggles my mind that people actually pay for storage of their photos on things like iCloud, when they could just send everything to Flickr for free. Especially now that you can get your photos back so easily, there really is no reason why everyone in the world should not use Flickr as a free cloud backup storage for all of their photos. Even if you don’t want to mix up every photo on your hard drive or phone with your current carefully curated Flickr presentation, you can just set up a second account and call it backup to Flickr and have a free backup site for your photos.

Are you one of those people who are constantly running out of space on your phone because of all of your photos? Then why aren’t you using Flickr?

More from The Verge, Wired, TechCrunch.