In a recent post we talked about how the internet helps and hinders my photography.
The pros far outweigh the cons, and this post is the first in a small series about some of the sites and services I use online, and the benefits they’ve bought me as a photographer.
First up, Flickr.
I joined Flickr in 2009 as a place to share my photograph and start to build an archive or body of work. I don’t plan to compare Flickr with any other sites, this is purely about what it does for me, and the reasons I still use it – arguably more than ever – eight years later.
To share my photographs. This is how it started with Flickr. Like most of us, it’s pretty pleasing when someone else likes one of our photographs enough to add it as a favourite, even better if they comment favourably too. In 2009 the biggest online photo community was Flickr, so that’s where I headed to start sharing.
Even though I photograph primarily for myself (and more for the experience than the final images), I still really appreciate comments from others.
To back up my photographs. I keep a back up of my MacBook’s HD on an external drive, but also wanted the security of some kind of online archive, in case I lost everything at home.
So I see Flickr as an easy and organised way to have that. Which brings us to…
To organise my photographs. Though I’m a really organised person generally, and my files on my computer are neatly named by date, camera, lens and film, it’s not easy to find all the photographs made with a single lens or film, or all the pictures I’ve taken of horses, or doors, for example.
By using the tags in Flickr, it becomes really easy to do this. Plus by using albums (I have albums for cameras, lenses and film) again I can see all these photographs conveniently collected together.
Though interestingly now I’m really drifting away from the need to know the exact kit I used to take photographs and just appreciating the images on their own merits. A sure sign of maturity?
To edit my photographs. Once I have taken a batch of photographs, I flip through them in LightRoom, then process (where required) and export the best. I then sweep through again once or twice and delete any I don’t think make the grade. I then upload the best of these to Flickr (usually a 50% resized version), then finally go back and delete any of the originals that did make it to Flickr.
So then from each batch, I have a set of 50% version on Flickr as a back up, and the originals of the same photos still on my HD.
This system works well, doesn’t take too long, and on the whole means my HD doesn’t get filled up with hundreds of mediocre shots I’m never going to look at again. Efficient plus frugal, a double win in my eyes!
To easily post photographs on 35hunter. I happily admit to using the free version of WordPress for 35hunter. With it you get a certain amount of media storage. Occasionally I need to use this when I want to share a photo of a camera or lens maybe that isn’t on Flickr.
But 99% of the time I go to Flickr, find a photograph I want to share, then use the “Add via URL” option. The auto resizing in Flickr is super handy too, meaning I don’t have to do this myself in an external app, picture by picture.
Using Flickr like this means the image displays full width in 35hunter, without being saved here and affecting my very limited storage. I’ve read of people maxing out their free WordPress storage but not wanting to move to a paid plan, then having the prospect of abandoning their blog (and its unique name and audience) because they can’t add any more images. This is a big plus, and for me would be reason enough on its own to continue using Flickr.
To improve my photographs. From early on I started curating a collection of my favourites by other photographers on Flickr. My end goal with this is partly to have a growing set of beautiful pictures to look at, but also to have an aim for my own photostream.
One day, I would like to look at my stream, then my favourites stream, and feel the quality of both sets is the same. Yes I know I said the other day that comparing ourselves with others leads to disappointment, but I do like something to aspire to…
To be inspired by other photographers. I don’t follow many people on Flickr and most of the ones I do follow are because I talk with them regularly rather than swoon over every image they produce.
The people whose work I’m inspired most by I usually find by accident, doing random searches like “SuperTakumar” or “Spotmatic Portrait” or “RicohGRD Mono“. Then add the images I really like to my favourites.
To talk with other photographers. As I said above, I’ve met a handful of people on Flickr who I’ve had regular discussions with for some years. Usually they’re far more experienced in photography and far more knowledgable about cameras, so it helps me learn.
Eight years on, a large proportion of what I know about photography overall, I learned from my Flickr buddies.
To research the cameras, lenses and film other photographers use. In the way that I fairly extensively tag my photographs and sort them into albums, many others do too. So in the past when I’ve been looking at a new camera or lens, I’ve headed to Flickr, for two reasons.
First, to see if anyone else has posted pictures of the camera or lens itself with some kind of review or thoughts. Second to see the images people have made with that particular camera or lens. If I don’t find anything I like, I usually pass on the camera/lens. If I find at least a handful of inspiring photos made by one lens or camera, I’m highly likely to seek it out myself.
Also, some of the groups on Flickr have a vast wealth of information on particular cameras, lenses, film, shooting techniques and pretty much everything else you can think of in photography. A huge resource for anyone keen to learn.
To learn new techniques and gain new ideas. This was especially true in my earlier film days, when I was keen to learn some of the unique ways film can be used. Making redscale film, cross processing, multiple exposures and film soups were a few of the approaches I discovered and was wowed by.
As with researching cameras and lenses, this works in two ways, finding instruction on how to do it, plus samples of what can be achieved when you do.
As you can see, Flickr has been absolutely vital to my photography journey in so many ways.
Aside from costing me money when I find yet another camera or lens I must try for myself, it’s been full of positives, and I likely would not have made a fraction of the photographs I have if it wasn’t for all the benefits and encouragement it’s given me.
How and why do you use Flickr, or indeed any alternatives? Please let us know in the comments below.
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