Yesterday Twitter announced that they were adding view counts to tweets on Twitter. I thought I’d use this announcement to very unscientifically compare the number of views one of my photos received on Twitter vs. Flickr. While some might call this an “apples vs. oranges” comparison, and Flickr is admittedly more of a photography centric social network, I find that I engage with photographers on both platforms, even if I also engage with more non-photographers on Twitter.
A few notes on my unscientific test. Interestingly enough I have about the same number of followers on both platforms. As of today I have 50,211 followers on Twitter and 53,363 followers on Flickr. I’ve been active on both platforms for well over a decade. I joined Twitter in 2006 and Flickr in 2004. I use both networks daily, although I’d say I’ve been much more active on Flickr over the years.
After almost 24 hours of posting the two exact same photos at the same time (on a Thursday evening) on both networks the results are in.
Twitter views: 5,010
Flickr views: 2,496
Oddly, Twitter generated almost exactly 2x as many views as the exact same photo on Flickr.
There are other metrics to look at as well.
Likes on Twitter: 75
Favorites on Flickr: 176
Comments on Twitter: 9
Comments on Flickr 18
The Twitter photo also got six retweets (Flickr doesn’t have retweets).
I’m not sure exactly what any of this means other than while my photo got 2x the number of views on Twitter, it also got 2x the amount of engagement on Flickr (as measured by likes and comments).
I didn’t do anything special to promote either of the two photos myself other than engage in the comments on each as I normally would. Other than posting a link in my Flickr group American Photographer, I didn’t post anywhere else on either link. I also put the photo into the pool in American photographer and added it to other groups as invited on Flickr (I would normally do this anyways).
I should also add that I don’t know exactly what constitutes a “view” on either platform. I’m assuming that both platforms apply the term as liberally as possible and it’s meant to mean any time your photo was seen anywhere on either site on a computer, tablet, or phone screen.
Update: a day after I wrote this blog post, the photo in this blog post hit Flickr’s popular Explore page where Flickr each day prominently features 500 photographs from the site. This caused this photo’s view count to rocket higher on Flickr.
As of this morning the view count comparison now stands at:
As a photographer, I have been making photographs with my own cameras my entire life. From my first Kodak Instamatic camera as a child, to the Sigma film SLR that I received as gift in high school, to my first digital camera (a Sony Mavica in 1999 or so) to my current DSLR (a Canon 5D Mark IV) — for me photography has been both a lifelong pursuit and a passion as both a photographer and an artist.
Along with my own photography, I enjoy the photography of others. I’ve been very active on Flickr since it started in 2003. I’ve also collected postcards and photography books over the years, consuming great photography both in print and online wherever I can find it on a daily basis.
In November of 2019, visiting my parents down in Los Angeles over Thanksgiving, and shortly before the pandemic started, I stumbled upon a box of 35mm slides in a warehouse in an antique store. I bought the box (I think for $20) and began digging into the slides (mostly old Kodachromes). What I discovered was truly a treasure. The best I could figure out, the slides were made by a photographer named Hugh Stevens Bell. Googling Bell, I learned that he’d been published in National Geographic. Mostly his photos focused on the American Southwest and included many photos of American Indians from the 1940s and 1950s — the collection also included many personal photos of his family and family life.
I was hooked.
A few months later the pandemic hit and I found myself reluctant to go out and make my own photos while also simultaneously fascinated by a new found hobby of collecting vernacular photographs (found photos). The timing seemed right to dive in.
To simplify things I’m defining found photos as physical photos, negatives and slides that have been separated from their original owners.
There are many different types of collectors of found photos. The most popular type of photograph collected is probably the standard black and white snapshot — paper photographs, many casually made, oftentimes by Americans, mostly in the 1920s-1960s. Many of these are now part of serious museum and gallery collections.
Certain types of snapshots are more valuable than others and highly collectible. Photographs of African Americans, gay interest, disaster photography, vintage Las Vegas, New York, or San Francisco all seem to sell at a premium. Additionally many collectors focus on certain types of photographs or subjects in photographs — hand tinted photographs, polaroids, photographs of three women (three graces), photographs of people in Easter bunny costumes or rabbits, photos from vintage photobooths, photos of bicycles or tricycles or women and cars, photos of airplanes and many more categories define individual interest.
Then there are the wider general variety of photographs of family life, of military and war, of vacations and the automobile, and lots and lots and lots of photos of Christmas trees and people fishing.
The most interesting of these snapshots as collected by serious collectors and dealers are oftentimes very artful photography. Sometimes these are historic photographs or made by professional photographers, but quite frequently these photos are also mere happy accidents made by amateurs.
For some collectors, they need the physical manifestation of paper. They need to touch a photograph, feel a photograph, hold the weight of the photograph in their hand and examine it as an object.
My collecting is a bit different.
For me, collecting found photos is more about a process, a process of pulling lost, orphaned images from analog obscurity and elevating them to a digital, widely shared and accessible permanent longevity. I’m not a dealer or a collector for financial gain so it doesn’t matter to me that some of the media I collect has less economic value than others. I am mostly interested in rescuing and publishing interesting imagery. So I will collect snapshots, but I will also collect negatives, slides, photo albums, etc. I will collect black and white imagery and color photographs. I will collect photos from the 1920s-1960s, but I will also collect photos from the 1970s to the present, photos that many collectors deem less desirable.
For the remainder of this post I am going to walk through my process, explaining each step I take in my own collecting.
Found photos can be acquired in many different places. For me, I find the best deals come from as close to the source as I can get. From the best I’ve been able to tell, the most common way for photographs to become separated from an owner are through the death of the owner or through unpaid storage locker bills resulting in lockers being auctioned off.
Estate sales are probably my favorite place to find photos, slides, negatives, etc. Usually these are collections that have not been picked through and are mostly intact. They can also be had much more cheaply than other places. It’s not unusual to pick up a collection of slides at an estate sale (if you can find them) for $20. I bought one collection of 40 carousels of slides for $40. I bought a collection of probably 5,000 negatives for $200.
Estate sales are a lot of work though. You have to drive to the sale, oftentimes wait in line when it opens to get there early enough before the photos are gone, and most of the time they don’t even have photos/slides. Sometimes you’ll research a sale and see a photo of a box of slides in the sale items and then the next day you get there and the family has decided to pull the slides from sale. Still, when you find something good, you usually get something good at a great price.
After estate sales you can also find slides/photos at flea markets, antique/thrift stores, and auctions.
And then there’s the motherlode of all for most collectors of just about anything, eBay.
Every single day thousands of found photographs are sold on eBay. On eBay though you will pay MUCH more for the photos you buy. Buying lots of photos is generally your best value, but oftentimes you find yourself purchasing a lot of photos or slides that have already been picked through by others and you are basically buying a bunch of rejects after everything good has been culled out. Sometimes you can find good dealers who routinely sell high quality lots of photographs, other times you can get an idea of where a seller is sourcing their material (do they have lots of other estate type items for sale? do they identify themselves as a storage locker buyer?).
Finally, tell everyone you know about your collection. I’ve had many family and friends give me old photographs. I’ve also had them refer me to people who are happy to let me have their physical photos in exchange for free digital versions. Scanning at photo labs can be expensive and for many people they would rather have digital versions of their photos that they can look at on their computer or phone or iPad and share on social media, than a box of old slides that they haven’t looked at in 20 years. By the way, if you are figuring out what to do with your old slides and photos and want me to scan them for you for trade, hit me up.
Once I obtain a collection of images I review the images before deciding which to work with. Sometimes you run into a collection with many great photos, but oftentimes you end up with a collection of photos where someone took 50 photos of their muddy back yard, or flowers, or a boring side of a mountain, or 100 bad fireworks photos. Still, in those collections there are sometimes good photos too — the photo of the proud husband posing his wife in front of the brand new family car in 1956, a photo of that marque in Las Vegas with all the glorious neon from a 1968 vacation, that early family vacation to Disneyland, you know… the good stuff.
For me, culling involves shuffling through physical photos or looking at slides/negatives with a loupe and then making a decision on an image. Images are generally divided into three categories (to scan, maybe to scan, definitely not to scan).
There are many different ways to scan photos/slides/negatives. Some people use a DSLR based system and actually rephotograph the image. For me I prefer to use a flatbed photo scanner; in my case I own an Epson Perfection V850 Pro photo scanner. For what I need it does a great job. I can do batches of slides or negatives at once. It comes with scanning software.
I scan my paper photographs at different resolutions depending on the size of the paper photograph. I might scan an 8×10 at 1200 dpi or a small photobooth photograph at 4800 dpi. I scan my slides and negatives mostly at 3200 dpi. Everything I scan is saved into a folder by that job and dated and saved as a TIFF file.
Once I finish with a scan job I’ll begin editing the images. I treat these adopted photographs the same way that I treat my own photographs. I will work with them in Adobe Lightroom making the adjustments I feel bring out the best in the photo. I will often make multiple versions of the work if I feel it is warranted — sometimes, for example, I might find a great color Kodachrome image also works well in black and white.
Keywording is one of my least favorite parts of collecting. It’s boring, it’s monotonous, it’s time consuming… but, keywording is the key to organizing my collection and to making it more searchable in its new digital life. After editing a batch of photos I’ll go through the collection and apply as many keywords as I can. In addition to keywording the brand of media (Kodachrome, Ektachrome, etc) at the time of scan, I’ll also include any dates that I have on a slide or any writing or other types of annotation made by the original owner on a slide or on the back of a photograph — sometimes it’s what’s written on the back of a photograph that makes it the most interesting of all.
In addition to what I have available from the physical photo/negative/slide, if it’s from a single collection, I’ll create a title just for those photos so that they can be properly grouped together later. For example, I found a collection of images from a family named Clouse from Coffeyville, Kansas and so those all get the keyword “The Clouse Collection” which allows me to keep them together online. I also try to identify what’s in a photo the best I can. A photo of the Statue of Liberty also gets the New York City, keyword, etc.
Each day I publish anywhere between 50 and 150 photos to Flickr (I’m trying to publish 1,000,000 photos to Flickr before I die). Usually I publish in three batches (morning, noon, night). What I’m doing now is mixing in my new found photos that I finish with my own unpublished archive of photos I’ve taken myself. I find that mixing the two makes my Flickrstream more diverse.
The great thing about publishing my collection to Flickr is that not only can I share it with the world indefinitely (even after my own death hopefully) but the community at Flickr can also participate in the collection. Quite often my friends on Flickr will help me identify the location of a particular photo. One friend suggested tagging all of the photos of a particularly well travelled and photogenic woman in a collection as “Lady Zelig” (a fictional name) in order to group them together. Frequently friends who know much more about cars or airplanes than I do will identify the type of vehicle or even historical background on airplanes, people, locations, etc.
I use SuprSetr to automatically build albums or collections around my keywords for organization on Flickr (thanks Jeremy!)
There is also a vibrant community of other collectors on Flickr. I started my own group (although it is not as active as I’d like) on Flickr called “American Vernacular” where I try to publish much, much more about various sites and articles of interest around vernacular photography (please join and participate). I’ve been particularly impressed by John Van Noate’s collection. John is not only a very serious collector/dealer but one of the great writers on Flickr as well.
I do also publish some of my found photos on Twitter and Instagram from time to time, but really Flickr is my social home on the web these days.
This is probably the weakest part of my collecting so far. Once I scan a photograph/slide/negative it basically goes into one of those giant plastic bins (along with thousands of others) and is stored in an insulated room in my attic (part of my home office). Fortunately the Bay Area where I live is never really too hot or too cold and a dark room in an attic may be an ok place for them. I know a lot of more serious collectors probably do more to protect their collections, but this is not a part of my collecting I’ve really been ready to engage with to date — perhaps someday when I’m older and have more time. The disadvantage of this approach, of course, is that in the future it would be almost impossible for me to try to locate a single image amongst the thousands of images all mixed together (although I do try to keep individual collections together the best that I can).
Anyways, I hope for those of you still reading this TLDR post, you got something out of it and feel free to let me know if you have any questions. If you collect vernacular photography please consider publishing your collection to Flickr and hope to see you and engage with you there.
“It seems to me that the subject of Bill Dane’s pictures is the discovery of lyric beauty in Oakland, or the discovery of surprise and delight in what we had been told was a wasteland of boredom, the discovery of classical measure in the heart of God’s own junkyard, the discovery of a kind of optimism, still available at least to the eye.” John Szarkowski, director of photography, Museum of Modern art 1962-1991
For those unfamiliar with his work, Dane has been actively photographing the world around him for over 50 years. Since 1969 he has generously mailed 69,000 of his photographs as postcards to people. More recently he has been active on Flickr where he continues day in and day out to share his world with the rest of us.
As you work through his flickstream you find yourself moving from Las Vegas in 1972 to Mexico City in 1974 to Olympia, Washington in 2018. The one constant thing is that Bill is there with his camera walking you through his unique view of the world. His view of the world, as his book title admits, is not always pretty, but it is like no other photographer you’ve probably ever seen. It’s not easy work to get through but it’s rewarding when you do.
Accompanying his images in the book are his own sttaccato like typed words. Like a beat poet Bill opines on his own photographic path as well what he sees around him — words to go with the pictures. It’s part personal history/biography, part documentary, part politics, part life vision — always poetic.
“Hunt treasure strike-snap-gather edit judge
I still photograph like it’s 1969 sort of
Advancing weaving focused scanning dam Bill hold still
Leica Rangerfinders straightforward refinement guess settings real good
Film has wonder dept forging Tri-X darkrooms mail
Costco for color prints to edit send
2007 My last film camera Contax SLR zoom-macro
Digital Nikon D80 with the 28-105 macro”
In my own artist’s statement, I quote the great Charles Bukowski who once said that endurance is more important than truth. As far as endurance goes Bill’s got it. He’s got it in spades and you have to admire that. Bill’s spent time hanging out at workshops with Friedlander and Arbus. He’s had shows at MoMA, his photographs hang in the permanent collections of MoMA, SFMOMA, the Art Institute of Chicago — and yet here he is day in and day out still putting work up out there for the public where? At Flickr? Yes, at our beloved Flickr.
Interestingly enough the title of Bill’s book actually comes from Bukowski’s poem “I Met A Genius.” The poem is about a 6 year old boy on a train ride with Bukowski who sees the sea for the first time and remarks upon seeing it that “it’s not pretty.” It’s the sort of innocent honest insight that can come from a child who has not been saddled down with society’s version of the sea as a remarkable and beautiful scene, the way most artists might present it.
Bill gives us a messy world, it’s not always pretty, but it’s worthwhile to see it as he shares it. It is a bit of a junkyard as Szarkowski suggests, but there is beauty in the junkyard as well.
Weighing in at over 300 pages of high quality printing and limited to only 500 copies, do yourself a favor and pick this one up before it sells out and before one of these big name museums decides to do a retrospective. You’ll have an original collector’s item. Bill Dane is a treasure — and so are his flickrstream and book.
In case you missed it recently, Google Photos has decided to end their free unlimited photo hosting service. Beginning in June of next year users will be limited to 15GB of space before being asked to pay for more storage. How much you’ll have to pay will depend on how much storage you use. Unfortunately for me, I have more photos than fit their top tier $100/year plan, so even if I wanted to pay I’d be capped out of the service.
While I don’t begrudge Google, a trillion dollar company that makes billions of dollars a year, from wanting to make even MORE money, I am offended by the bait and switch approach that they took with Google Photos. Offering a user the first hit for free is classic dealer marketing. A lot of time and energy goes into organizing your photos on ANY photo sharing site and when someone spends hundreds or even thousands of hours organizing their photos at a site only to be priced out of the site, those are countless hours that you will never get back.
Fortunately for me I’ve spent a lot less time using Google Photos for the past few years. Google’s consistent bad faith across photo hosting/sharing products has left me very skeptical of anything they do anymore.
Some of you may remember Picasa (Google killed it). I was a user of that. I also was a big user of Google Buzz (they killed that too). Then I put hundreds of hours into my photography on Google+ (once again RIP). We used to do photowalks and hangouts and lots of other fun things around photography with Google+. Here’s my old Google+ url.
Initially I was super excited about Google Photos, but that changed over time. I was disappointed that one of their early features, photo facial recognition, didn’t really work for me. It limited the service to 200 faces and unfortunately for me when the service launched it grabbed a bunch of faces of musicians I’d photographed performing at Coachella and chose those as the ones to tag. There was no way to delete those and have it choose people who were actually my family, friends, neighbors, etc.
I was also disappointed that the hours and hours and hours I’d spent keywording all my photos in Adobe Lightroom were stripped out of my uploads to Google Photos. I’m not sure why Google would want to remove one of the best ways for me to search my photos from their service but for whatever reason they strip this data.
Still, Google Photos was free (even though it downsized my photos). It’s hard to complain about free — until they locked my gmail. Last year I received a rather ominous message from Google threatening that unless I paid them for more storage they were going to turn my gmail off.
It turns out that even though Google Photos claimed to be able to convert my photos to high quality JPEGs with free unlimited storage, that TIFF files generated by the software program Analog Efex Pro (ironically a former Google owned product before they jettisoned that as well) were not being converted by Google Photos and were sucking up my gmail storage which was then demanding payment from me. They actually locked my gmail and I missed several important emails that were blocked during this fiasco.
By this point I was about ready to delete my Google Photos account — except I could not find ANY way to delete my Google Photos account. That’s right you can’t just delete Google Photos. You have to delete your entire Google account including your Gmail!
While this is my unhappy story and experience with Google Photos, many, many users were duped into signing up for a free service that they thought would protect, as Google put it, their “lifetime of memories.” Now Google is demanding money from these users.
To me it seems wrong (even evil — remember their old motto “don’t be evil” that they also abandoned?) that Google would bait and switch so many users on this product. You can’t/won’t get the many hours that you spent organizing your photos on Google Photos back. Some will just begrudgingly pay up. What I see is one of the world’s largest companies who used a classic monopolistic tactic to grab market share by pricing out and hurting smaller competitors and now wants to profit from their move.
Once burned shame on you. Twice, three times, four times, five times, six times burned, shame on me. I will never trust Google with another product again.
I’ve been using Flickr since 2004 and as long as I can remember my Flickr Pro account has remained unlimited. Flickr/SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill even recently re-iterated Flickr’s commitment to honoring their unlimited service. While Flickr may not be a trillion dollar company or make billions of dollars every year like Google does, they are a small company that cares about photographers and your photography. They also do a great job storing and sharing your full high-res, uncompressed, high quality images (and they even retain your photo keywords when you upload them there). I feel much better supporting an ethical small business than a trillion dollar company using monopolistic bait and switch tactics to try to drive the smaller guy out of business.
I had the pleasure to try FOB Kitchen last night, a hot new Telegraph Avenue Oakland Filipino menu in Oakland (Thanks cristina_thebaker!). 5179 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609. You would not know it from the unassuming Temescal strip mall setting, but once inside you are treated to an amazing and flavorful Filipino menu from this former San Francisco pop up. The decor and setting make you feel like you are being transported to a swanky tropical beach bar in the Philippines and once you dive into the family style offerings you will be hooked. The friendly service is first rate and definitely take their recommendations when ordering for the first time.
FOB Kitchen Chef Janice Dulce (right).
My favorite dish of the evening was their popular and well regarded Pork Adobo (palm vinegar, soy, garlic, annatto). The succulent chunks of pork go perfectly with the savory sauce which is also perfect to pour over the rice served with dinner. I also enjoyed the cornucopia of flavors in another recommended vegetarian dish the Ensalada Talong (eggplant, jicama, tomato, sea bean, cilantro, scallion, coconut vinegar, soy, rice cracker). I’m a huge brussel sprouts fan and FOB Kitchen prepares theirs perfectly — and as a bonus they also have bok choy as a side as well. Of the three desserts I tried I think I liked the turon the most, which are Filipino fried banana rolls served with ice cream. While these dishes were some of my favorite standouts, I loved everything I tried there.
Beautiful well crafted cocktails, savory regional cuisine and a flight of excellent desserts with family celebrating my second oldests 17th birthday made for a memorable evening. I will definitely be back!
If, like me, you are a fan of all things mid-century modern, then you won’t want to miss Oakland’s newest Lakeshore addition, Bardo Lounge and Supper Club. Like a vintage trip with Don Draper back in time, you’ll enjoy all the little touches that make for a perfect night out for some excellent cocktails along with lounge or supper service to go with them.
With Bardo, owners Seth and Jenni Bregman have transformed the former Michel Bistro space on Lakeshore into a sort of museum of great taste and design from our favorite wayback era — with some seriously good tunes spinning all night long.
Along with the lush 60s feel, Bardo serves up swingin’ cocktails with lounge service downstairs (no reservations required) and supper service upstairs (reservations required). The downstairs lounge features a lounge and bar where you can order “lounge fare” and some of the items off of the larger tasting menu from supper service upstairs.
Last night Mrs. TH and I tried the lounge service at the bar. In terms of the booze, I opted for the “Walk in the Orchard” cocktail, a well balanced craft cocktail with High West Double Rye, Cynar 70, Apple Cider, Fresh Lime Juice, White Pepper Thyme Maple and Angostura Bitters. Mrs. TH chose the equally delicious “Pilot Maxine,” Blackberry-Washed Gordon’s Gin, Top Hat East India Tonic, Fresh Lime Juice and Fee Brother’s Rhubarb Bitters.
From the menu I’d highlight the devilishly delicious deviled duck eggs, the super rich foie gras cacio e pepe pasta, and most definitely the broccolini casserole — the toasted shallot and almonds on top of the casserole were just perfect. That casserole would win any neighborhood bake off hands down.
Bardo’s Lounge is open from 5pm to Late Wednesday-Sunday and supper is served upstairs 5:30-10pm Thursday-Saturday and 5:30-9:30pm on Sunday. I’d recommend getting there as early as you can for lounge service. We had no problem getting a spot at the bar at 5:30pm last night, but it filled up quickly with a line as it got later. Bonus tip, go catch an epic sunset, with your old school film camera of course, for an early winter sunset over Lake Merritt and just walk on over for dinner afterwards.
Yesterday Flickr made their first big restructuring announcement since recently being purchased by SmugMug. Beginning next year on January 8th, Flickr will limit free accounts to 1,000 photos. The previously offered free 1 terabyte of storage goes away. At the same time Flickr is returning their paid pro account to unlimited storage which had been their original offer before capping new Pro accounts at 1 terabyte back in 2013. If you were Pro before 2013 you were considered “old school” Pro and kept your unlimited storage, but new accounts were limited. Now all Pro accounts are back to being unlimited.
In 1973 the artists Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Schoolman broadcast a short video titled “Television Delivers People”. In that video a simple assertion was made: the product of television. commercial television. is the audience. Television delivers people to an advertiser. Since then, various influential individuals from Tim O’Reilly to Steve Wozniak to Apple CEO Tim Cook have all repeated the mantra: “if you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer, you’re the product being sold.”
To put things more simply, there are two viable business models on the internet today to deliver service. There is a paid subscription model and there is a “free” model where business sell your data and make money on advertising everything from Butterfinger candy bars on Instagram to “brain force” pills via Alex Jones.
Personally I prefer to pay for an ad-free online experience which is one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed Flickr so much where I’ve had an opportunity to pay annually since I joined the service back in 2003. Flickr delivers a clean user interface, full high res photos, a compelling app for my iPhone, unlimited storage, kick ass organizational tools, a social community to engage with, search tools, stats, and much more.
At $50/year (well technically $49.99 but I like to round up) I think Flickr delivers tremendous value. I have spent thousands of hours of my life on the site — thousands of ad-free hours not just for me, but for any of my friends or even strangers who happen to land on my photo page too. I am more than happy to pay this every year and will continue to do so until I die most likely. Hopefully I will figure out a way to even continue paying after I die as my personal life goal is to publish 1,000,000 photos before I die and then let that archive of work stand in all perpetuity after I am gone.
So obviously Flickr works for me, but what about all those people who don’t/haven’t paid and just want to use the service for “free.”
I believe that one of the reasons why Flickr was sold by Oath (who had purchased Yahoo’s content businesses) to Smugmug was because Oath realized that a hybrid subscription/free service doesn’t really work. It’s the same reason why Facebook is so resistant to offering a paid ad-free option to customers.
Oath is basically an advertising company and when you are advertising at people you need to be able to advertise to your most profitable customers to make the service work. When you give your most profitable customers (i.e. the ones with money) the option to pay to opt out of ads they do and will. What you are left with is a bunch of accounts by heavy users who are either poor Americans or more likely poor overseas accounts or very light users who can put up with ads but won’t see very many because they are only on your site 2 minutes a week. Whatever the case, you are basically providing a terabyte of enterprise storage, bandwidth, support, etc., to customers who cannot economically be supported by advertising.
In order for Flickr to survive it has to be a long-term profitable business. SmugMug knows a thing or two about how to do this as their primary model for over a decade has been entirely subscription based. As someone who wants to be able to host my photos on Flickr for the 50 remaining years I likely have left on this planet (and even after my death) in order to publish 1,000,000 photos, it’s important to me that Flickr has a long-term viable business model. This means that strongly encouraging free users (who are not currently paying their way) to migrate to paid Pro is important.
I do think it is important for Flickr to offer a free account in order to give people an opportunity to try out the service to see if it is for them. 1,000 photos gives you plenty of opportunity to do just that. It gives you hundreds, even thousands, of hours to explore and enjoy the service without paying — but if you are a heavy user of the site and are using over 1,000 photos of space, at some point you ought to pay.
By the way, Flickr’s original deal when I started with them was that they would only show your most recent 100 photos if you were a free account and the Pro account cost $60 (or $59.99) per year. So you might say the current account that gives you 10x that or 1,000 is 10x more generous than the original Flickr from way back.
Besides the obvious business model reasons why this is a smart decision for Flickr and their users, there are other important reasons this makes Flickr better as well. One of the things I noticed after Flickr began offering 1 terabyte for free to users was that many users simply began using Flickr as a backup site for all of their photos. Instead of sharing their best photos with a community, they simply dumped everything on their hard drive to Flickr and left and went away. These photos were then indexed for search and populated the service littering it with low quality content (screengrabs, 1,000 bad photos in a row of fireworks, 3,000 poorly composed photos in a row of somebody’s sister’s wedding, etc.). By focusing Flickr’s vision on photo sharing and community rather than simply another online photo backup dump this makes the visual experience better for those of us who are actually there to share photos and engage with each other.
Also, if people are willing to pay for something they tend to put more effort into it. If you are paying for something and perceive it’s value you’ll care more, contribute more and be a part of something. These are the accounts that I value on Flickr the most.
I truly believe that yesterday’s decision not only paves the way to make Flickr viable for many years ahead, but that it paves the way for Don and his team to continue to spend money growing and building out the site for the community that is there and loves the service so much.
There are still so many great things that can be done with Flickr going forward. Groups need work. Search needs work. Community needs work. The app needs work. All of these things do cost money though and by getting rid of the massive storage/bandwidth demands of 1 terabyte free accounts and gaining more paid subscribers, this will allow Flickr to do this important work to continue making Flickr the best photo sharing site on the internet for all of us who are a part of the Flickr community and love the site so much.
I do understand that people don’t always want to pay for things, but I think that the right people will pay for Flickr because it provides them tremendous value. I pay for my Adobe Lightroom subscription. I pay for my Netflix account. I pay for these things because they provide me value. This is also why I pay for Flickr and will continue doing so many years into the future.
Unfortunately as we have seen with services like Friendfeed (purchased by Facebook) or even Google+ (in the process of being killed by Google) social networks oftentimes get shut down. It is very important to me that Flickr remains profitable for the long-term so that I can count on it being there many, many years from now. I think yesterday’s decision helps make Flickr more economically viable and sustainable many years into the future.
Chefs Duncan Kwitkor and Andrew Greene — Abstract Table, offering up a 5 and 7 course tasting menu Friday and Saturday nights at Gastropig.
Last night my wife and I had a chance to dine at the opening of a new pop up style 7 course tasting menu called Abstract Table, currently being offered as permanent Friday and Saturday night dinner service at the Gastropig in Oakland’s Uptown District. The menu is prepared by chefs/artists/friends Andrew Greene and Duncan Kwitkorand (formerly of Duchess in Oakland’s Rockridge District). The duo’s initial tasting menu features many unique and interesting flavors put together loosely around a Japanese style with a “Fine Dining on Paper” theme. Courses are served on paper and metal trays.
This is the first dinner series at the Gastropig and Greene and Kwitkorand plan to offer a winter themed tasting menu later this year as well. The tasting menu is modestly priced at $50 for a 5 course tasting and $70 for a 7 course tasting. Wine and sake are offered to accompany the meal or you can bring your own bottle (like we did with the excellent 2000 Peter Michael Les Pavots) and pay corkage.
Of the 7 courses that we tried I think my personal favorites were the ocean trout with wild arugula sage, pickled grilled cucumber and coconut and the dessert panna cotta. My wife enjoyed the bok choy quite a bit and thought it was an interesting and unique approach to a salad. Overall I found every course quite enjoyable and appreciated the artistic orientation and presentation to the food. It is nice to see an interesting tasting menu approach and a new addition to Oakland’s food scene, especially at a fairly reasonable price.
About 12 years ago, in 2006, I had what at the time felt like the biggest technological change in my life. I switched from a PC to my first MacBook Pro. Switching computer operating systems at the time seemed like a massive chasm to overcome, but I did it and I’m glad I did. My main motivation was that I was tired of all of the errors that I was getting from PCs and all my friends with Macs just kept saying pretty much the exact same thing, “it just works.” After hearing that enough I broke down and made a decision that it was time for a change.
Over the last decade, that first decision has brought dozens of new Apple products into my life. Every three years or so I’d upgrade MacBook Pros. I bought a Mac Mini for the kitchen which I upgraded to a nicer iMac latter. I bought a high end iMac to edit my photos on for my home office. I bought a Cinema Display as a second monitor. I spent the night in line overnight to buy the very first iPhone. I bought the iPhone 3g, the iPhone 4, 5, 6s and most recently the 10. I’ve bought iPads, MacBook Pros and iPhones for my wife and kids. I always buy Apple Care. Apple iCloud storage, movies, tv shows, airpods, the list goes on and on.
I haven’t added it all up yet, but I’d say over the past decade I’ve easily spent tens of thousands of dollars on Apple products.
I feel like at some point I’ve just about purchased every product as a good Apple consumer is supposed to… except maybe the watch. The watch feels stupid to me. If I want to know what time it is I can just look at my phone. I haven’t worn a watch in 20 years. I don’t need an uncomfortable thing strapped to my hand and my health is good enough that I don’t need to constantly run ECGs or have someone notified if I fall down and can’t get back up (which hasn’t happened once yet in the 50+ years I’ve been on the planet).
Unfortunately for me though, it’s the Apple TV which I’ve always been the most excited about and which has also unfortunately frustrated me more than any Apple other gadget I’ve ever owned. I’ve bought every version of the Apple TV as they’ve been released dutifully. Giving Apple my hard earned money for the promise of something great, the ability to watch my photos in my living room — and it’s been a completely frustrating experience along the way.
I’m not sure exactly why I’m writing this blog post about Apple TV. I haven’t blogged in a while. In part it’s probably cathartic for me. In part I feel like I’m giving up on photos tonight and hope that maybe someday someone will Google one of my error codes and have a better answer. Maybe someone will read it and have some suggestion that I haven’t considered. Maybe someone will suggest a better way to watch photos on a TV.
My most recent problem revolves around the new Apple 4k TV. Of the six Apple TVs in my house I have two connected to Vizio 4k TVs. Of course I upgraded to the 4k Apple TV because what’s the point of having a 4k TV without a 4k device.
For the most part over the life of the AppleTV product photos have been frustrating. I have a large library of images that I want to play on my Apple TVs. I use home sharing and point my iTunes to a folder of images and ask for my Apple TVs to stream those images. (File >> Home Sharing >> Choose Photos to Share with Apple TV…) Frequently my AppleTVs lose their connections to my iTunes library and the only way to get the photos to play again is to quit iTunes and relaunch it. I frequently would have to restart the Apple TVs. The Apple TV in the living would be working but then the one in the attic couldn’t connect. The one in the attic would work but then the one in the bedroom wouldn’t connect. It was a constant exercise of frustration. I set all of the Apple TVs to update automatically and I’d constantly check for updates to apply them manually.
About a year ago I spent several weeks working with Apple Engineers. They sent these trace packet things to me by email and I’d do different things, run the logging software and send them log files. After several weeks and many log files I did get an answer back about a year ago that Apple engineers had found a problem related to my Apple TVs constantly disconnecting from home sharing and that a fix would be coming. They couldn’t tell me when but said that it was an issue on their end and to keep checking for updates. So at least I wasn’t totally crazy and at least there was hope… kind of?
Although this was a frustrating way to use my AppleTV, the payoff of being able to relax on the couch and watch my life’s work, my photos that I love so much, while enjoying a glass of wine was such a high payoff that I put up with it… until, unfortunately now, with the latest dreaded TVOS12 update.
Last week I updated all of my Apple TVs to TVOS12. On my non-4k Apple TVs, it’s the same sad, frustrating experience of having to restart Apple TVs, restart, my iMac, restart iTunes, constantly to get them to work. But when they do work it will play my photos for hours. Unfortunately on the two 4k Apple TVs photos crash 100% of the time. Usually within 10 seconds, but sometimes I can get them to play for 20 seconds or 45 seconds or maybe even 2 minutes before it crashes. But they crash 100% of the time. I’ve spent at least 20 hours trying to fix my photos over the past week (including a good 3 hour phone call last night with an Apple Care tech) but nothing seems to work.
If I try to stream photos on my iMac to my 4K Apple TVs the photos crash. If I try to stream photos on my MacBook Pro to my 4k Apple TVs the photos crash. If I try to stream photos on my home network to the 4k AppleTVs the photos crash. If I create a hotspot with my iPhone with just my MacBook Pro and one 4k Apple TV photos crash.
If instead of pointing home sharing to a folder, I import all the photos into Apple’s Photos app on my iMac (I hate the Apple Photos App on my iMac) and share from there instead still photos crash.
Every time after the photos crash there is a brief error message on the screen for about 1 second that reads “No iTunes libraries available. Home Sharing lets you stream content from your computer’s iTunes library to your Apple TV. To access your iTunes library, turn on Home Sharing on your computer and use the Apple ID. Retry.”
That message disappears and brings me right back to the main home sharing page on the Apple TV.
I’ve made sure that the photos that I want to share are all on the internal hard drives of the devices I’m trying to stream. I even upgraded yesterday to the new Apple OS Mojave, in the hopes that this might fix things. I’ve turned my Comcast router on and off.
The bottom line is there is simply nothing that I can do to make photos work on my 4k Apple TVs since updating to TVOS 12. And, of course, Apple will not allow you to roll your OS on your Apple TV back to a previous version so there is no getting out of TVOS 12 hell. I did a reset of the entire device back to factory settings, but instead of resetting it back to the factory setting from when I bought it. It reset it back to the factory settings for TVOS 12.
The Apple Tech I spent hours on the phone with yesterday suggested that I take my Macbook Pro and my 4k AppleTV into the Apple store and set an appointment to show them there. I had an appointment this afternoon at 2pm to do just that, but after only getting three hours of sleep last night trying to troubleshoot my Apple TV I just couldn’t go through with it today. It’s just too much, too soon.
In the meantime it looks as though I wasted $200 each on some useless Apple hockey pucks, but maybe at some point I’ll regain the strength to try again, or maybe someday, somewhere I’ll find an answer on how to make these devices stream photos for me again.
Or maybe like I ditched Windows back in 2006, it’s now time to ditch Apple again and maybe go find something that you know, “just works.”
Needless to say, your 4k AppleTV may work flawlessly and perfectly for you. This is my personal experience though and it’s my blog and this is what the experience has been like for me.
Update, October 7, 2018, I am still struggling with photos not working on the Apple TV and trying to get them to perform consistently. One thing I have found that helps, at least temporarily is to turn off home sharing on the Apple TV unit. Next turn home sharing back on. Next reboot the Apple TV. Next try to launch photos. Typically it fails here and crashes. Keep trying to launch photos until it works. It may take 4 or 5 times. I’ve found a few times now that if I repeat that process in various forms photos will not crash immediately.
Update, October 14, 2018, I am still finding photos crashing all of the time. I have tried a new sequence though that will sometimes get photos playing for a few hours. Step 1: log out of iCloud on the Apple TV. Step 2: Log out of iTunes on the Apple TV. Step 3: Log out of Home Sharing on the Apple TV. Step 4. Restart the Apple TV. Step 5. Turn on iCloud (enter password). Step 6: Turn on iTunes/App Store (enter password). Step 7. Turn on Home Sharing (enter password). Step 8 (important): Restart the Apple TV again. Step 9. Launch photos.
I find that if I do that sequence photos do not crash immediately. It is only a matter of time before they crash again but it can sometimes last several hours.
Had dinner tonight at the lovely Belotti on College Avenue in Oakland, California — a wonderful Italian restaurant with some of the most amazing dishes. Definitely a memorable meal and definitely a new local favorite. Since we were speaking Italian, brought a nicely cellared 1998 Barolo which accompanied the meal perfectly.