8 Reasons Why I’m Happily Sticking With Flickr

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.

1. Value.

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.

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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.

4. Tags.

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.

5. Albums.

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.

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5. Groups.

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.

6. Search.

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.

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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).

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

18 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why I’m Happily Sticking With Flickr”

  1. It’s interesting to hear your thoughts given that I’m still mulling over what to do about Flickr. I’ve been onboard since the very early days, but the community spirit seems to have disappeared. There’s an incredible wealth of knowledge in the groups, but sadly most of them are stagnant these days, and besides you don’t need to be Pro to access them. I used to think of Flickr as a back up, but as well as everything mirrored to two hard drives now, for a fiver a month also I use Livedrive which backs up my entire hard drive in the cloud and is accessible from everywhere. And of course I have the ultimate back up of my most important photos being in albums 😁

    I understand why you host your blog pictures on Flickr for space reasons. But if your blog is important to you, I think it just adds an additional point of failure should Flickr decide to up sticks, or change their API or the link constructions.

    But Flickr Pro is good value for money if it meets your needs. And the layout and interface is the best that I’ve seen.

    I shall continue to mull….

    1. Hi Gerald, thank for your interesting thoughts.

      I completely agree about the community, the glory days of Flickr are long gone. I hope – as I imagine many others do – that these changes might kickstart interest again, and that the new owners have other new plans in the pipeline.

      I do feel that Flickr offers a far more in depth and immersive platform for discussions and sharing, where so many apps these days feel to be so fleeting and superficial (Instagram, Twitter etc).

      I also have two physical back up hard drives, I wouldn’t rely solely on any online back yet!

      Yes I agree that my blog is now very dependent on Flickr for images, and if Flickr disappeared (which one day it inevitably will) I would have a photography blog with no pictures.

      But this is true for any online platform, who knows how long WordPress will be around? And if I hosted the images I use for blog posts just in WordPress, I wouldn’t really be able to do anything else with them – I certainly wouldn’t have all the features I mention in the post above that I do have with Flickr currently.

      If it looks like Flickr might be coming to an end, I think at that point I’d look around for alternatives.

      With anything online we have to be prepared to evolve. What remains constant is not the software we use but the message we have, and hopefully the communities we build, which we can take with us to new platforms when the old ones are no longer working for us.

      But let’s hope Flickr has a good few years in it yet – even if the community side of it doesn’t return to how it once was.

  2. I enjoyed reading your thoughts Dan, I can see where it makes sense for you use Flickr. I feel like the threat to delete peoples photos if they don’t pony up the money is extortion. It is kind of a dead zone lately anyway, I think I can live without it.

    1. Hi Jon, I can understand that point of view, but Flickr certainly aren’t the first and won’t be the last company – online or off – who changes their offer/package for customers.

      From a business point of view, I don’t see how they could sustain offering unlimited free storage.

      I’d rather see them become a subscription based service that thrives, rather than fold under for all of their users because they can’t afford to sustain unlimited storage without people paying anything for it.

      Plus, if this model means subscription fees but in return unlimited storage with no advertising, that is infinitely preferable to me than free unlimited storage but on a site plastered with ads.

      Over here we have the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) who have about six TV and multiple radio stations. You need to pay an annual licence fee, but it’s ad free, aside from ads for its own shows. I don’t watch a great deal of TV, but again as a viewing experience this is so much more enjoyable (for me) than watching a drama or especially a film and having the “spell” broken every 15 minutes with half a dozen dumb adverts. This is essentially the same model Flickr are going with, and hey it’s worked for the BBC since 1946! : )

      Regardless of it being a “dead zone” in terms of community interaction (and let’s hope there are plans to inject some life back in), virtually all of the reasons I use Flickr are not dependent on this, the interface, the unlimited storage, the tags, albums, search and so on.

  3. Interesting thoughts Dan I know you’ve used it extensively and so your views are born of plenty of experience. I’ve dabbled with Flickr but never really found a proper use for it. I use Google Photos for bulk cloud storage of pictures and now that I have a “pictures” side to my blog, I don’t upload any of my good ones to Flickr any more. I hadn’t been aware of the changes until this morning but it wasn’t really much of a decision after that to delete my account.

    1. Richard, thanks for your thoughts. Do you use the images stored in Google Photos to embed in your blog? Or do you upload the images directly into your blog? If the latter, just be aware there is a limit, which from memory isn’t particularly large, unless you upgrade your WordPress plan. I’ve thought of doing the latter, but Flickr gives me so many other benefits, it makes sense to use it to host pictures I feature on my blog too, rather than pay more for further storage on WP.

        1. The Personal plan I use gives 6GB of storage which is probably enough for years, but it depends on the size of photos you upload, how many per post, how often you post etc. For some blogs this plan I’m sure is sufficient for the lifetime of the blog.

  4. With our rural internet ( 3Mbps with wind in right direction) what I’d really love is a Flikr desktop app at the moment so I can start getting my photos more organised as you describe.
    The doubling of the sub seems a bit opportunistic just looking at that in isolation, I can understand why some are miffed at that for little benefit if you’re already Pro, but I agree that once you start comparison it’s still cheap considering the rest of the system (it not resizing photos arbitrarily itself is a good start).
    Once up to speed I think I’ll be interested in it a little more, for now any online storage system is a pain.

    1. Hi Bear, did I read on your blog fairly recently that you had an imminent broadband update in your area?

      The organisational aspect of Flickr is quite probably the best feature, although perhaps there are offline systems/apps that can do the same with existing photos on your HD?

      1. Yeah but… it appears that it is not getting here at um… high speed.
        Have tried a couple of offline things but half of it is that I lose interest in trawling through them and doing it at all after about half an hour!

        1. I must admit if I had to now back over photos I’ve made in the past and tag and categorise them again, I probably wouldn’t bother. I just got into the habit early on, and the few seconds it takes each time I upload a batch of photos to Flickr is worth the easy access it gives me when searching for photos at a later date.

          I wonder if there are tools that somehow embed the tags within the photo’s exif data, so that if/when you move photos between compatible apps their tags go with them? Just thinking out loud, this might be useful for me if I ever sought an alternative to Flickr.

  5. As you know, I rely heavily on Flickr to host photos on my blog. If Flickr ever goes away, I’d be wiped out.

    I’m so relieved SmugMug bought Flickr, as I believe that at a minimum it will secure its future for years to come. And it looks to me like switching their revenue model to rely more on subscriptions says that they are in this for the long haul.

    I never expected to wind up with tens of thousands of photographs. I have utterly failed to tag them in Lightroom or any other software product. Flickr is frequently the only way I can find a photograph I’ve taken.

    1. Jim I think we’re very much in the same page when it comes to Flickr, how we use it, and how much we rely on it.

      And like you I think that this move to be more dependent on a subscription model where it’s surely far easier to make longer term plans based on known income rather than speculate about potential advertising revenue, sounds like a positive move for the future of Flickr.

  6. Hi Dan

    I have been with Flickr since the pre-Yahoo days, and have always used it to share my ‘best’ photographs. Over the years I have found it less engaging and noticed that all my friends and family were using Instagram and not looking at my Flickr photos any more. It felt like a ghost town. When I upgraded my iPhone I realised it took pretty decent photographs and sparked a kind of creativity I didn’t realise I had in me, so I created an Instagram account and so far use it exclusively for my iPhone pictures. Recently I emptied my Flickr account of around 400 photos (a bit like your re-set) and now I don’t really know what to do with it anymore. I have 20K photographs from my cameras, mostly in RAW format (which Flickr doesn’t accept), so to use it as a backup service wouldn’t work for me. In fact any online backup service probably won’t work for me since my upload speeds are so slow. So I started a blog and am wondering how that will turn out – I can envisage sharing some photographs on there but in a different way than I would on Flickr, perhaps with some series or to illustrate a point. I will continue to use Flickr though, but the thought of re-processing all my best pictures again fills me with horror, even though my skills in that area have improved. Anyway, glad that other people are grappling with some of these issues too.

    Thanks,
    Michael

    1. Hi Michael, thanks, good to hear your thoughts and experiences. I know what you mean about a ghost town, I guess the fall of Flickr on the social front for me coincided with the rise in my participation in blogs (my own, and commenting on other people’s).
      Or rather, because I realised I was using Flickr like a blog almost, posting a handful of photos then adding my connected thoughts in the description, and the interaction was lessening, I decided a WordPress photography blog might be a better option for building community. Which has proved to be the case! I think this is also why I haven’t missed the community on Flickr so much as some – I feel much more part of a network of photographers now than I ever did on Flickr.
      I’ve tried Instagram a few times but just cannot get on with it. It’s just too mobile oriented for me, and I don’t get why photographers are happy to share pictures at such a tiny size. It’s like going to the cinema and then finding that instead of the usual cinema screen they’ve replaced with with a 28” TV and 100 people are all craning their necks and squinting to see any detail… Anyway…
      I’m curious about your 20000 photos in RAW format. Why don’t you then process them as JPEG or TIFF? Or, why not just shoot JPEG in the first place? Seems like they were just taken for the experience of taking them (which for me is indeed 90% of the joy of photography!) but then you do nothing else with them?

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