Flickr Master Reset (Or How To Rejuvenate Your Online Portfolio)

When I began using Flickr in 2009 it was for two reasons – a back up of my best photos, and a public “portfolio” of those photos.

Nine years and, somewhat shockingly, over 4500 uploaded photos later, I’m thinking about where to go with it next.

I still want to use it as an archive/back up.

It’s very convenient to use images in Flickr to display in posts here on 35hunter, instead of filling up my WordPress storage allowance, as I wrote about recently, so I still want to use Flickr for that purpose too.


As a portfolio though, I don’t feel it works for two reasons.

First, the sheer volume of photographs. Who wants to wade through that many photos?

Second, the quality of many of the older photographs, compared with those I’ve made with more experience, and hopefully an increasing skill in knowing what makes a great photo, and being brave enough to cull anything that doesn’t.

My ideal is that when a stranger lands on any one of my photos for the first time, they are inspired and impressed enough to check out more of my work – on Flickr and on 35hunter.

If they land on something mediocre, they’re not likely to look any further and are probably lost forever.

But how do you even begin to sift through 4500 photos isolating the stellar from the why-on-earth-did-I-bother?

Even spending 30 seconds per photo this would take longer than the average working week. Time that I can spend far better elsewhere (online and offline).

A possibility is deleting everything and starting again. But this wouldn’t work on many levels – I’d lose the images posted on 35hunter, I’d lose the archive, I’d lose the favourites I’ve gathered as inspiration over the years. It’s a dead end avenue. Er, a cul-de-sac.


So another option is to make absolutely every photo private, in effect performing a master reset of my public portfolio.

This wouldn’t affect my archive or the images displayed here (I realised some time ago that I can upload an image as private on Flickr and still display it fine here), or the comments on photos that were previously public (I think, I need to try this one to double check), or lose my favourites of other people’s photos. Plus all of my stats etc would be intact.

I’m very fond of the idea of a reset in general, as we spoke about not long ago with regard to a camera collection reboot.

So this option appeals greatly.

I could then go through (starting with my most recent photos) and gradually make those I felt were good enough public again, in my own time. And maybe end up with a few hundred images public, rather than nearly 5000.

Another counterpoint to this though is the fewer photographs you have, the less the internet long tail theory comes in to play. In other words, 4500 photos getting one view a month each is as much exposure overall as 45 getting 100 views each.

But I’d rather have 45 photos where every one is fabulous than 4500 where three quarters are average and diluting the best ones.

You can see I’m rather undecided!

So I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

What kind of online portfolio do you have, on Flickr or elsewhere? What is the purpose of it? How do you keep it full of only your very best work?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts below (remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.

45 thoughts on “Flickr Master Reset (Or How To Rejuvenate Your Online Portfolio)”

  1. Sure a good idea to make the bunch private and ‘release’ only the best into the wild. At the same time you can provide those with a few explanatory words (if you want to) as you release them.
    Now if your past stats and comments will remain unaffected (though Flickr comments are often as dubiuous as Instagram’s I think), why not go that way?
    Can you estimate the views you get on ‘lesser’ photos compared to your better ones, those that would remain visible?
    I think it’s a great idea! A complete reboot and a chance to go through all your stuff and see your evolution, your past styles, and see where you’re going (ever better in my opinion!).

    1. Thanks Frank, your thinking is much the same as mine.

      I plan to spend a bit of time flicking through my stats on Flickr. I know there are many photos that have less than ten views say (and some have zero!).

      Another thing I need to find out is if I make a photo private, then public again, does it reappear at the front of my stream, or just in the same place it was before, ie the same order I originally uploaded it.

      I’ve had a bit of a reboot with things overall in the last few months so might leave 2018 photos alone and do the mass privacy on everything older, then re-release them going back. I’ll probably find plenty I’ll want to delete entirely too.

      What do you use online as a portfolio?

      1. Empty account, blank canvas. You need only add your best work (those street portraits you shared very recently come to mind).

  2. Dan, I only store photos on my lap top as don’t really know what else to do and I don’t share them publicly as not at that level. Hope you can decide what best to do xoxo susanJOY

    1. Susan, like Frank says, make back ups either on an external hard drive or via something online like Google Photos, iCloud, Flickr, Amazon etc. Your laptop hard drive will break at some point and you could lose all your photos.

      1. Dan and Frank, I back up my computer regularly so all good with having a back up on my computer. I have 68 GB of space left on my lap top. Is that still a lot of space for me to keep more photos on my laptop. I don’t understand GBs and “space”. I am more familiar with sheets of paper and books. I am going to look at Flickr which many people here mention xoxo susanJOY

      2. Well, depending on the camera and settings, 68GB is still plenty. Looking at my recent photos made with a 10MP Ricoh, the average JPEG is between 2 and 4MB in size. so 68GB is enough for 34000 pictures at 2MB or 17000 at 4MB. If you go into the folder where you keep all your photos and look at the Info or Properties, it will tell you the total size. You can then gauge how much GB you use up per year say. I wouldn’t expect you keep more than a few thousand shots a year Susan, if that?

      3. I would be very wary of some of the online services for my sole backup, particularly the ones where you pay a subscription. I have a friend who had all their photos on a service and there was some kind of billing error which meant unbeknownst to them the account got closed and all the photos deleted without notice. I would buy a local USB hard drive as my main backup and use online services as an extra/convenient sharing platform.

      4. Agree SliverFox, whilst I use Flickr as a back up, and am increasingly using Google Photos as a kind of holding/editing platform, I also have two HD back ups!

  3. I’ve made peace with the fact that Flickr is my dumping ground. At least I have jpegs of 90% of my photos there as a sort of a backup. (The other 10% are abject failures, 5 of the same subject where I uploaded the 6th, etc.)

    1. Yeh mine isn’t quite what I’d call a dumping ground but I would like it to be radically pruned. Do you have any ambition to have a portfolio or gallery online that is purely for your very best photos Jim?

      1. I do have a Portfolio album on Flickr. It’s time to re-evaluate each photo however as I’m sure some of the early ones in there would not make the cut today.

        Johnson Co Courthouse
  4. Any reason why you don’t just add one or more pages with your best photos to your blog, as a portfolio? One of the advantages; these pages are very easy to adjust in terms of content and order. And: you don’t send your blog visitors elsewhere when they want to see your best photos.

    I made three pages (mobile b+w, mobile color, non-mobile). Now and then, I “reset” my blog and start all over again – currently working on a new blog -, but my “best” photos (for what it’s worth) are always visible to someone who happens to visit my site.

    1. Robert, thanks for your comments, that’s an excellent idea and something I’ll definitely explore. I like the idea of having maybe a page that’s called “Current Favourites” and feature my best dozen photos say, then update it every few months.


  5. You could create some structure for you Flickr stream by setting up Albums and then populating them with the best pictures in each category according to the criteria you judge important. It seems to me that using number of views, comments or ratings is a poor choice as it takes the choice out of you hands. Better, I think, to select photos based on your own estimate of their value.
    My Flickr Albums are based on subject matter; they are:
    People, Cats, Cars, Aircraft, Balloons, Pinhole, Trees, Old Town Albuquerque, Marigold Parade and Still LIfe. I also have Albums for each of my old film cameras, so most pictures end up in two Albums. I could create additional subject Albums, but the ones I have seem to suffice for what interests me.

    1. Thanks Mike, yeh I have albums on Flickr, over 200! Although they are very organised (mostly by camera, lens or film), again it just got overwhelming.

      In the last few months I haven’t been putting images I upload into any album, or tagging them with the camera I made them with. I just want to upload photos and not fuss over the tech spec anymore.

      I do like the idea of having albums by subject more, and because I’ve tagged pretty thoroughly over the years this would be easy to do.

      1. Thanks Tony, it might be a bulging album! I’m toying with this idea currently, maybe wiping out all my old camera/film/lens albums and starting a few by subject. Like “Crumbling Gravestones”, “Abandoned In The Woods”, and yes indeed “Weathered Old Doors”.

      2. It’s kind of how I’ve been doing it, except I think for a few subjects albums by month or season may be in order. So a visit to a stately home gets an album, local walks gets a March to May 2018 album and when we get to June a new one. It’s for my own use, so as long as it makes sense to me. There’s only 100 or so images there right now, but I’ll need to start thinking about tagging and meta data before it gets much bigger.

        I will also make use of the showcase. My plan is it’ll have ten images max and ten only, if I take something I think should be there, something will have to drop out.

        As to why I’m using it … just to organise the pictures I liked best. I really don’t mind if no one ever looks at them except me.

  6. Oh, that explains it! Well, to be honest, I like some of my pics more than others obviously and I do feel I’m getting better (or more picky about my subjects) but the “why did I bother” thing hasn’t occurred to me yet. Also, the notion of a portfolio implies some sort of commercial exploitation of the pictures, while for me they are just random captures at specific moments reflecting a mood, a feeling, or simply sharing what felt visually intetesting. I can’t see myself combing through that completely deleting pictures that felt worthy of uploading at a specific point of my evolution as someone who likes to take pictures. It’s all there accessible for everyone to like, dislike or comment upon.

    1. Christos good to see you!

      That explains what?

      Yes I’m not completely happy with the name “portfolio”. I’m not a pro photographer and have no aspirations to be. I just want a way of collecting together the very best. Which will of course be my own subjective opinion!

      In theory when you upload more to Flickr and let the people decide which is “best”, you should find that the photos that get most comments, views etc are the “best”. But this doesn’t work, or at least it hasn’t for me, as something like 17 of my top 20 viewed and commented on photos are pictures OF cameras and/or lenses, not pictures taken WITH them… I’m just feeding other people’s gear lust and addiction, which goes against most of what I preach about on 35hunter, simplifying, having fewer cameras etc.

      Then you can argue well if those kind of pictures attract people to our Flickr, they might at least stay and seem some of the proper photos too. I don’t know, I’m unsure about the whole thing at the moment.

  7. Dan, have you set up your ‘showcase’ on Flickr? I haven’t yet but been vaguely looking into it. On your ‘about’ page you can select 25 of your best images to show as your portfolio when people land on your page. Not sure yet how valuable that is and don’t know if that quite fits your thinking but may be worth a look. I guess it only works if people land on your about page rather than your photostream

    1. No I haven’t done the showcase thing, I’m not even entirely sure what my about page has on it, ha ha!

      Yes the trouble is most people arrive at a particular photo I think and don’t then go to the about page or showcase. I very rarely look at this with other photographers, I just want to see their photostream and if I like the photos they’re sharing.

      1. I often check out the About page! Usually to see if they have any other social media links on there if they haven’t posted in a while (which is unfortunately often the case with flickr)

      2. Having tested this I agree, You have to really want to know about someone to go to their About page, Flickr defaults to the photostream. The only problem with hiding all your other work is now it looks like you only have a few pictures. If I am looking at a photographers work on FlickR to see whether I want to follow them and I see just a few images I think either they are new or the account it dormant; looking at the date they joined will help me decide which. Your’s now doesn’t look like an active account to me which might not be the impression you want to present.

      3. It’s a work in progress, the only thing I’ve done so far is set all images to private and then made about five public again. I want to see how it looks and feels to have a fresh start. I like it so far!

  8. I’ve thought about doing something similar. At the moment, I mainly use Flickr as a backup and organisational tool. I have A LOT of albums on there; I even catalogue my nature images on there by plant family, because I have a small interest in botany.

    However I kind of prefer Instagram for sharing. Because of the lack of albums and other organisational features, it forces me to only upload my best work. Also with the ability to upload multiple images in one post, you can start of tell a story with a single post. I don’t use that feature very often but it’s something I wish Flickr had.

    1. Yes I’ve used the album feature heavily on Flickr, it was vey useful when I was more of a camera tester than photographer. But I’m moving on from that, and as I said to Mike, lately I’ve just been uploading with tags around the subject of the photo, and not tagging with the camera/lens spec or putting the pictures in a camera/lens album.

      Interesting your take on Instagram. I never really knew what to post there, I think I was also trying to feature just images that still looked ok about two inches square, whereas on Flickr on an iPad or “proper” computer screen I know there’s a far greater range of photos I can upload and people will be able to see the subtle details. In that sense I felt Instagram was “dumbing down” my photos, kind of like playing with Duplo instead of Technic Lego, if that makes sense!

      1. I understand what you mean! I would prefer it if Instagram’s grid was more dynamic like Flickr’s, and if they removed the aspect ratio restrictions. I’m always having to cut off a bit of my image. That’s why a lot of people have started uploading with frames/borders; this guy does it very well:

      2. I have to also agree about that. I wish more people used Flickr…I’m mostly on Instagram for the social interactions. Not necessarily the “likes”, but comments, Stories, and following some great photographers who are unfortunately not on Flickr. Flickr is very much about photography, Instagram is for the socialites lol

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