The Fate of Flickr

Posted by The A-Team on


We’ve got a different kind of post for your this Friday afternoon – an analysis on the state of the most popular website for photographers: Flickr. This was sparked by a recent article titled Flickr is Dead which is garnering plenty of attention. There, Thomas Hawk states that Flickr is on the way out, and others such as Google+ and 500px are on the way in. Why? Because Flickr has been stagnating, while the others have been innovating. Let’s take a look at Flickr and it’s competition…

History

I’ve been a long time user of Flickr, with an account dating back to it’s beginning in 2004. I’ve been a loyal user ever since, but I have noticed that the design and interface has remained more or less the same over the years (with some subtle but key changes of course). In the beginning, Flickr was my default photo storage fault. It hosted everything on my blogs, my portfolio, and everything else. Over the years as I’ve grown as a photographer, it’s role has diminished. Whereas I used to upload 5 images per day, now I hardly make an upload every week. Why?

Alternatives

For one, photos on Facebook simply get more views and more comments. So I tend to put more social oriented photos there, for greater exposure. Secondly, services such as Smugmug allow me to sell my photos quickly and easily. Granted, I have a Pro account there, but Flickr does not offer this basic service, central to the very idea of photography: making prints. Finally, hosting on my own website future-proofs my photos, as you lose access to any shots beyond your 200 latest if you stop paying for the Pro account. Not to mention, it compresses your photos upon upload, even if you have a Pro account.

Improvements

If you think Flickr has completely stagnated, consider these very useful improvements first. The Organizr has made tagging, categorizing, editing, grouping, and creating sets easier than ever. Following in Facebook’s wake, you can tag people, but this feature hasn’t taken off as in the former’s case. Photo display sizes increased from 500px to 640px, a hugely welcome change in my opinion, and you can view them even larger, on a black background, by clicking on them. Finally, the somewhat new Actions tab has consolidated a bunch of key commands into one list.

Groups

One thing Flickr has over other websites is an abundance of active groups. No other website even comes close. You have everything from the immensely popular Strobist toand obscure concept group Camera Toss (you gotta check this one out). And of course our award winning group (chuckles). Anything you want to talk about regarding photography, and you can probably find a group for it. Google+ doesn’t yet have groups, but they are still young…

Conclusion

For the time being, Flickr is too integrated with my online photography life to give it up. It may not have the best design compared to others, but I will continue paying my $25/yr for the Flickr Pro account. It gives me access to the 5,000+ photos I have stored there, exposes my collection to Getty editors, hosts images on multiple blogs, gives me presence in Google searches, connects me to a vibrant community via groups, and hosts the broadest slice of my online work. You can source nearly any kind of photo there, and especially useful is the Creative Commons, many of which we use on this blog. Finally, there are an abundance of services that have popped up around Flickr. In terms of the breadth of features, nothing yet rivals it. But I will keep my eye on these other new photo sharing websites as they develop, but for now, Flickr remains the core.

Commentary

Plenty of others have weighed in on Flickr and it’s rivals. Aside from Google+, another new kid on the block is 500px, which is getting a lot of press.

Flickr Not Dead, But Losing The Soul Of Photo Sharing by The Washington Post

Flickr Designer Publicly Criticizes Flickr’s Design on TechCrunch

The startup dilemma: build a following or monetize first? by The Globe and Mail

Startup Seeks To Be Online Destination for World’s Best Photography by Mashable

Op/Ed: On sharing photos: Flickr, Pure Photo and 500px by The Phoblographer

Move Over Flickr — Hot Shots Love 500px by Gigaom

Is It Time To Dump Flickr? by Faded & Blurred

FLICKR IS DEAD by Thomas Hawk

Jesse Warren is a Flickr-ographer based in Shenzhen, China. He also works for Aputure.

 

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