Flickr have announced a few changes in recent days which have stirred mixed reactions amongst existing members.
I’ve made no secret on 35hunter before that I’m a big fan of Flickr and have used it extensively for years.
It serves a multitude of purposes for me, and I’ll continue with my Pro subscription into the foreseeable future.
In no particular order, here are the top eight reasons why I’m sticking with Flickr.
I joined Flickr in 2009, and have had a Pro account for I would guess about eight of those nine years. Looking at the account invoices going back four years, the fee has been $24.95, and I can’t recall ever paying anything different.
Yes, the new Pro account fee is to be double this at $49.99, but for me this still represents excellent value for unlimited storage and a completely ad free experience.
One of the major ways Flickr serves me is to host the images here on 35hunter, as after 250+ posts now, I’d be well beyond my WordPress storage allowance (see more on this below). For this purpose alone it’s worth the £3.20 a month this will cost me at the new higher fee.
I also have Google Drive/Photos cloud storage, which is less, at £1.59 a month, but only up to 100MB. And that’s across my whole Google account- GMail, Photos, Docs, Sheets etc – not just photo storage. The next plan up is 1TB (more than I need) at £7.99, over double the Flickr rate.
When I think that not long ago I was paying over £10 a month for a LightRoom subscription that for me was vastly overpriced, it’s another measure of the good value I think Flickr Pro offers.
Plus, I’m more than happy to invest a little in the services that, well, serve me well and allow me to have the online presence I do. LightRoom wasn’t one of those services, WordPress, Google and Flickr are.
2. Layout and interface.
Google Photos isn’t bad for displaying photos, but I find Flickr superior. The ability to view full screen and scroll through on the desktop browser site, and just the general ease at being able to view related albums, tags, groups and so on all on one page, as well as access to different sizes of the photograph, is very straightforward and usable.
On the iPad app there are a few features missing (like Flickr Mail) but for the pure viewing of photographs, going full screen and swiping through is about as good as it could be on any device/app combination, and as close as online viewing gets to immersing yourself into a printed book of photos.
And on both the desktop and iPad versions, it’s so much better and more photography friendly than some other popular photo apps (ahem, Instagram) that don’t in my opinion optimise the photos at all.
3. No ads.
This might seem trivial to some, but this is coming from someone who stops following blogs in the blink of an eye if the ads are too invasive, however good the writing and content might be otherwise.
I can’t stand them in any aspect of life – if I want to buy something, I know where to go to get it.
Again, with very little social media interaction, the online reading and picture viewing I do is similar to reading and viewing physical books.
When you immerse yourself in a great novel or photobook, the rest of the world disappears. (It’s no coincidence that this is not unlike the immersive feeling I have when out making photographs myself.)
That spell isn’t rudely broken by an ad slapping you in the face on every page. When this happens online, for me it completely ruins the flow and the experience.
I took a similar approach with 35hunter, and upgrading from the free WordPress plan was well worth it for the fact that you the reader are no longer subjected to adverts when you’re trying to enjoy the words and pictures here. As I said, I know how much I dislike it on other sites, so it’d be hypocritical of me to push ads on you here.
Flickr with ads would be a horrible experience and one I’m completely prepared to continue to pay a small sum to avoid.
I’m a pretty organised person, and when I shot a great deal of film and rarely (if ever) used the same camera/lens/film combination twice in succession, I saved each set of pictures on my hard drive in a folder with the name of the camera, lens and film, plus the date.
So I can quite easily locate sets of photos taken with a certain camera, and with some searching, locate photos taken with one lens or on one emulsion. But beyond that, I didn’t really know of a way to tag or organise photos.
If, for example, I want to browse a few photographs I’ve made of daffodils, or doors, or flaking paint, I can’t do it at all on my HD. Enter Flickr.
From the early days I made use of the tags in Flickr, so now I can simply type the tag or related text in the main Flickr search box, and the first section of results shown are within my own photos. This has saved me huge amounts of time searching, and allowed me to review and photographs in a far more organic and subject oriented way, rather than purely by the gear I used to make them.
This is similar to tags, but with a little more customisation. Again, when shooting a range of different cameras, lenses and film, it was super helpful to know which images were made by which, so I could hone my future choices down to my favourite combos.
Again my HD filing doesn’t have the sophistication to easily find, say, all photographs made on Kodak ColorPlus 200 film, or all photographs made with a Takumar 55/1.8 lens. Using albums in Flickr makes this very easy.
Also, I have certain albums around a certain time period (say all 2012 photographs), or around a certain themes (say, all photos of a Triumph bicycle I found in the woods some years ago).
This has also allowed me to easily begin projects around a certain topic, in a more controlled way than with tags. And continue them for months, even years.
Sometimes I’ve combined tags and albums, and searched for all photos with a certain tag, then made an album from them, rather than them just be hanging there temporarily on screen as the result of a search. Making new albums from a selection of photos, or applying tags to a batch of photos, is pretty straightforward using the “Organize” pages in Flickr.
Whilst I’ve not been into posting my own images in groups that much, I have learned a great deal from them. Sometimes it might have been a camera or lens specific group, seeing what people have been able to do with a camera or lens I have, or would like to have, has been very inspiring at times.
On other occasions, I’ve gained huge value from reading discussions, for example in one of the film groups, and picked up tips I might never have found elsewhere. And because I’ve never been into brand new cutting edge kit, the fact that pictures and discussions about shooting an older camera might be two, three, five or more years old is irrelevant, they’re just as useful.
Finally, with some groups it’s sometimes just highly useful and enjoyable to browse through images around a certain topic. For instance this week I’ve been reading up about the history of mixte bicycles and this has been enhanced by also browsing the mixte bicycles group on Flickr and seeing some of the beautiful examples out there.
This ties in with groups, tags, and albums. In fact, it ties them all together. Without the search function in Flickr, all three of the aforementioned would be far less useful and easy to access.
What I really like is when you search, the first section of results is all your own photos. I use this probably more than anything other kind of search or organisational tool online or off, to navigate my photos.
If I want to find examples of shots I’ve made with a Helios lens for example, I type Helios in the search box. It first shows me my albums that contain Helios in the title and description. I have an album for the Haiou-64 (known as the “Chinese Helios”, which is stated in my description of the album), one for Helios 44 58mm lenses and a third for the Helios-103 I had.
If I want to go into one of those albums, I just click on it. If not, in the next section of search results it shows all of my photos that have a mention of Helios, in the description, or tags. Right now 251 matches come up. I can click on one of those shown, or on “View all 251” so see them all, then sort these by most relevant, date taken, date uploaded or “interesting”, a Flickr measure based on the number views and favourites and comments a photo has.
In the third section of search results I have Helios photos made by people I follow. This is handy if I remember that a certain photographer I follow took shots with a certain camera or lens I want to revisit for inspiration or information.
And finally below that, Helios photos by everyone else. The way the search tool’s results are organised in sections like this I just find very powerful and logical, and most times I visit Flickr, I use the search in some way or other.
7. Ease of using photos in Flickr on 35hunter.
I wrote a whole post all about this a while back.
In short, I soon realised when I first started a WordPress blog in 2010, you have limited storage space, so to avoid filling it up, I chose to use the images I already had hosted in my Flickr account. Embedding them is very easy and I now do it in about 30 seconds, barely thinking about it.
What I’ve also done more of recently, is upload an image I want to use purely for a blog post – for example of a bike or camera I own – into Flickr, but set it as private. This means it doesn’t appear in my public Flickr stream, but it doesn’t affect the ability to embed the photo in 35hunter – this is the same process whatever the privacy settings in Flickr. Which brings me to the next reason.
8. Privacy settings.
Because you can set any uploaded photo to private or public (there’s also a friends and/or family only option I don’t use) it means you can use the same application for a private archive of all of the photos you want backed up, those you want to just upload to embed somewhere else online (like your WordPress blog!) and maintain a carefully curated public portfolio.
My total photos on Flickr amass close to 5000, but currently only around 170 are publicly visible. So anyone discovering my stream for the first time sees only what I consider my best work.
Rather than keep deleting and uploading photos when I want them public or not (because sometimes I don’t want a photo to be public, but do want to retain a back up copy), I can just change the privacy setting.
You can also do this en masse – a few months back I did a Flickr Master Reset, setting ALL of my photos to private in one action, then gradually made a few public again as I felt they were good enough.
As you can see, I’ve used Flickr virtually daily for approaching a decade, and most of that time with a Pro account. It works in all of the ways above better than anything else I’ve tried, and I have no plans to change anything.
I very much hope these changes see a return to the more active days of Flickr, something that certainly has waned in the last three years ago. And I hope if you don’t use Flickr much (or at all) already and didn’t realise some of the ways you could, it might encourage you to explore it more.
Do you use Flickr? What are your favourite features?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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