Flickr is no ghost town

Scientia, pulchritudo, lux
Sunset at Berkeley Marina
  • Is it a better platform (features-wise) than what you’re using now?
  • Is there enough traffic to make it worth your while?
  • Is it the type of audience the audience you’re trying to reach?

Made For Photographers, by Photographers

So why not just use Facebook and Instagram and call it a day? Here are some of the reasons I think FB/Instagram are not ideal ways to show your work, and why I think Flickr is the best photography platform available. Some of these points apply equally to Facebook and Instagram, since FB owns IG:

  • Ads. Do you really want your photography juxtaposed with advertising? Do you really want to enjoy other people’s photography when every fifth post is an advertisement?
  • Instagram images are tiny postage stamp versions of the images you’ve put so much work into. It’s almost an insult to your photos to display them so small with no full-size web option.
  • Facebook does full-screen, but they still compress and rewrite your images on upload, even if you enable the HD mobile setting.
  • Not everyone is on Facebook. Millions of people won’t use it, either for personal or political reasons (I’m sure we’ve all seen numerous friends leave the platform in the past couple of years). People without FB accounts simply can’t see your work here. Out of bounds. Walled gardens have their merits, but I want my public photos to be… public.
  • What if you decide to leave Facebook in a couple of years? What happens to all the work you posted here? Or will the fact that your photos are on FB prevent you from leaving the service even if you want to for other reasons? You’re “locked in.” Putting your images on Flickr instead means your images are decoupled from your social network, which gives you freedom.
  • Both Facebook and Instagram strip out all of your EXIF data, while Flickr does not. I really enjoy studying the EXIF data for other people’s images, or reminding myself of settings that were used on my own.
  • Flickr provides full and detailed statistics — not just of likes, but for all views, since the beginning of time (just realized my account is coming up on two million total views since I started there in 2005, wow!). They really have done a great job with them.
  • If you want to change an image on Instagram after posting, it’s not possible without deleting the original post. Flickr has a very capable online image editor as well as a handy “Replace Image” function.
  • Instagram is entirely focused on the mobile phone experience. You can visit IG on the web, but images won’t be any larger. You still can’t edit them, replace them, or view them full-screen. Flickr was designed from the beginning as a website, and you can view high-resolution, uncompressed images on a large monitor from your desktop, to enjoy them in full resolution. I can’t overemphasize what a difference full-screen makes to the enjoyment of, and the ability to appreciate, the work of other photographers.
  • Excellent APIs! For developers, Flickr has an extensive collection of public API methods allowing creation of all kinds of external image applications, scripts, and services. Go nuts creating your own Flickr exploration and display tools, external websites, phone apps, etc.
  • Did I already say no ads? (actually, I’ve just learned that Flickr does shows some ads — to Free Account users only, and only when in single-column view). But I assume that most people who are seriously interested in a photo platform will be willing to pony up $50/year for unlimited storage and no ads.
My brother-in-law’s shed
Hidden shack at Kappa’a

About That Ghost Town

So what about audience? Is anyone there? I don’t have access to Flickr’s internal traffic stats, but I can share some of my experience.

Flickr is a ghost town?
Conveyor, abandoned quarry
Kauai Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe

Who Are You Trying to Reach?

Believe it or not, there was a time before Facebook and Instagram, and pretty much all photo sharing online happened on Flickr — It was the defacto image posting and sharing destination on the internet. What seems to have happened in the meantime is that while the general population moved to Facebook and Instagram, photographers (who have much higher expectations from what an imaging service can do or should do) stuck around. As a result, what I see today is that most active Flickr users are other photographers, not the general population.

Tracks, Crockett
Ti leaves, Kauai afternoon
Under the Pier at Hanalei, when a couple conveniently swam into the frame

Downsides

As with anything, there are a couple of downsides to using Flickr.

Light painting during the Perseids meteor shower
Shady Oak Lake (III)
Tower of Power
COVID-19 shopper at Trader Joe’s

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Scot Hacker

Scot Hacker

Djangonaut at Energy Solutions, Oakland. Dad. Geocacher. Treehugger.