Why You Should (Or Shouldn't) Abandon Your Flickr Account - Digital Photography School

Why You Should (Or Shouldn’t) Abandon Your Flickr Account

When it comes to photo sharing, Flickr is without a doubt, the ten ton gorilla in the room. Millions of photos are uploaded to the site on a daily basis from all around the world and of every subject you could possibly think to photograph. For millions of budding photographers, it’s a place to freely share their photos with friends, family and categorized communities of other camera wielders around the world.

flickr-logo.jpg

Flickr is a great digital tool that has been responsible for the curation of images from the ultra mundane to the graphic masterpiece, the pornographic to the iconic and the out of focus to the nationally archived. It’s likely where a lot of you share your images on the web. But if you have aspirations of growing in your photographic career, you may want to consider your continued use of this or any other photo sharing behemoth.

I’ll caveat the remainder of this post with the reminder that this is an opinion. Take it with a grain of salt, but also carefully think on it before either following my advice or disregarding it. So agree or disagree, here are my personal thoughts on why you should (or shouldn’t) abandon your Flickr account.

Sharing and Organization (Keep)

In terms of its ability to share images across the web, Flickr takes the cake. In fact, many of you use Flickr to then repost your images right here on Digital Photography School. We love that you share with us too! Flickr allows its millions of users to link a single image, or group of images, almost anywhere across the web with imported metadata and other subject identifying tags. Individual images can be neatly grouped into categories such as landscapes, animals, people, still life or even My Summer Trip 2010.

If the primary purpose of your photography is to share nearly each and every snap out of your camera, then you definitely shouldn’t abandon your Flickr account (or perhaps you should even go sign up for one). No where else will allow you to so easily group, store and share with different photographic groups.

Refining Your Vision (Abandon)

As you become a better photographer, you realize that photos you once thought were great are actually not that good at all. Even photographers who have been professionally shooting for over ten years are progressing and growing their eye every day, and finding out some (or much) of their old work is just not up to par. It’s all part of refining your vision as a photographer.

Unfortunately, with Flickr, many of those types of photos remain on your page far past when they should, bringing down the overall impact of your imagery. It’s easy to post everything, because it doesn’t require you to think about why you like a particular image. Trimming down what you show people is an exercise in learning what you want to shoot and why certain photos appeal to you. You’re only as good as your worst image. Eventually you may realize that while you’ve got some good ones, others are pretty bad. You don’t want a potential client to have to wade through the bad ones. All they should see is your best.

Part of refining your vision is also realizing what you want to shoot as a photographer. Do you have aspirations of wedding photography, landscapes, food, macro, portraiture, lifestyle, fashion, etc? The days of the photographer as a generalist are pretty much dead. Very few companies hire the same photographer anymore to shoot their landscape, automobile, fashion editorial, portrait or wildlife photo. Today, it’s all about personal style. While you can and certainly should apply it to everything you shoot, most will specialize in a few distinct fields. What I often see with users on Flickr is posts for anything and everything. That’s ok if you haven’t found your style yet, but recognize at some point it’s time to hone down on what you want to shoot and get rid of the excess fluff.

SEO (Keep)

As an html site that allows you to tag, categorize and keyword each photo, Flickr is fantastic for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In fact, many photographers often post photos with the very intention of grabbing the top image search of specific Google keywords or phrases and then linking their professional website in their Flickr comment section. For a wedding photographer in a small market, being able to have one of your images come up first when someone searches for “Kansas Wedding Photographer” can be a great way your work is found by potential clients. It may even make up the bulk of your marketing efforts and source of clients. SEO is definitely a reason to think about keeping Flickr.

Presentation and Branding (Abandon)

As you refine your vision and begin creating your own unique style, you’ll want to package your work in a website and other branded elements that present your images best. Flickr is not that. In the effort to make images uploaded on the site easy to categorize and user friendly, every photographer is molded into the very same packaging. It’s categorical, not stylistic.

In a global market that demands individualized style you can’t afford to look like just anybody else. Own your space. With Flickr, you’re just another face in the crowd. Only a personal website can deliver you a place to control every element of your brand. Do you really want sparkly dragon fly comments or other group awards/invites influencing someone’s perception of your work?

The last harsh reality is that Flickr is associated with amateurs. While some professional photographers do post to the site, the overwhelming majority of users are amateurs. That’s the perception and no getting around it. If you’re trying to coax a few thousand dollars out of a client while earning their trust that you can deliver the images as requested; the last thing you want to look like is an amateur. If you tell someone to check out your galleries on Flickr, you automatically create the perception of being an amateur, often no matter how good your work really is.

Flickr is a great photo sharing tool and the web “home” of many camera wielders around the world. If your goal with your camera is nothing more than sharing fun snaps you find day to day this is definitely a nice place to share your pictures. However, if you have aspirations of entering the world of professional photography, there will come a point in your photographic journey where it’s time to abandon your Flickr page, present a refined body of work and show yourself as a professional from presentation to product. In today’s competitive market you can’t afford to do any less.

Update: since posting this article we’ve asked our facebook network whether they use Flickr more or less than previously – stop by to read the conversation and have your say here.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Matt Dutile is a New York City based travel and lifestyle photographer. He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a book on Mongolian nomads. Check the page out to learn more. You can view his website or join in on his Facebook page as well.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/annagaycoan Anna Gay

    This is quite a touchy subject for me, as well as a lot of people I know on Flickr. For me, personally, I would be quite lost had it not been for Flickr. Some of my best work opportunities as a photographer have come from people who found me on Flickr.

    While I think it is very important to utilize your resources – have a website/blog, use facebook, twitter, etc – Flickr should definitely be a resource to consider. Never underestimate the power of tagging on Flickr! A lot of amazing opportunities have come my way, simply because I tagged a photo, someone searched for that tag, and found my photostream either on a search engine or Flickr.

    I definitely wouldn’t limit myself to Flickr, though, because like Matthew Dutile stated – some of the work in my stream is so old, and not the least bit indicative of where I currently stand as a photographer. Flickr, for me, is simply a publicity machine.

  • Shams Naved

    I personally disagree with both the “abandon” points.

    Refining Your Vision :- Abandon?? Really. I wouldn’t know about others but I certainly keep a sentimental touch with my old photos, even if they are a million miles behind the professional quality that I would have achieved. I reminds me of where I started as a photographer and of a journey that still continues. Of course, if you don’t want your prospective client to see your photo, you can certainly make it “private”. There is no reason to delete the photo or stop using flickr at all. I keep some of my photos with only private permission.. just because I don’t want ppl to see them any more but also in the process keeping it.

    Presentation and Branding :- Abandon?? Flickr is certainly not a site for professional. Using it as your personal business webpage would be a folly. The only reason someone would buy a professional account would be to cross that 200 photos a account limit, that Flickr imposes on non-pro accounts, so that you can post more photos online and then post the html code on your website. There are very few businesses which can afford to maintain their own data storage servers.
    Flickr is an awesome way of guiding web traffic to your business website. Only question is how do you achieve it.

    These are

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/hannahruby91/ hannah

    While i mostly agree with what this post says, about being professional as a photographer; I personally use Flickr as a way to get feedback. And also to learn from other photographers to expand my own work.

    When i see lots of images that i like from other photographers, it inspires me to try new things myself. I still try to be selective with what i upload, and do not just upload “happy snaps”. I do not aspire to become a professional photographer, but i see Flickr as a good way for me to see how my photography has grown too. Only being part of the Flickr community for about 6 months or less, I’m definitely staying.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/katherinerosestudios/ Heidi Yanulis

    I recently joined flickr and have found it immensely useful as a means of getting inspiration and ideas from other photographers, as well as feedback on my images. I agree with one of the earlier poster that I would like a bit more constructive criticism of my images. But what I believe happens is that my strong images get feedback and my weaker ones are ignored. That is a kind of feedback in and of itself.

  • http://www.davebrownphotography.com/ Denver Food Photographer

    I’ve found flickr to be an invaluable resource and even if it minorly impacts my business from a client perspective, it increases my ability to create great images…. and thus increases my client impact.

  • http://www.gallerielyonesse.com Tallulah

    I’ve thought about uploading to Flickr, but am not sold on it yet. Someone mentioned to me a month ago, during my photo exhibit, that they didn’t see the point in doing an exhibit when people can just go to the internet and download photos from places like Flickr. That is my main issue with photo sharing sites. So how do you negate that aspect? Upload only low res. photos? Even if you disallow sharing of the photo, people can just use the snipping tool on Win 7 and capture the image. It’s frustrating.

    After reading the pros and cons here, I may give Flickr a try with some photos and see how it goes. It certainly provides a means for more people to view our photos, and that is a positive for someone just getting started who does not have a lot of traffic to a website yet.

    Someone mentioned above that you can’t link to a website from your photos? Can you put a contact link anywhere? I know Flickr is connected to my yahoo account but I never use that, so I would need a way for people to contact me should they want to use/purchase a photo.

    Thanks everyone for sharing your views. I love this site, and have learned a lot from just reading the comments and articles.

  • http://d90dewey.com George Dewey Powell

    flickr provides for your email address and website in the profile section.

  • Victoria

    A very timely article for me as I am just at the stage of wanting to get my shots online. All the comments have have led me to conclude that Flickr is a good thing but only if you use it with its limitations in mind. It’s obvious that a personal web site is imperative and this is the area I need advice in.
    I would love a discussion on this. Eg:
    Is it best to create yr own using programs like Dreamweaver etc or is it ok to use sites like Wix to create a portfolio.
    Once you set up a site, how do you then connect it to the world and lead people to it. I suspect there is a way to connect it to the Google search engine???
    Pardon my obvious amateur status here, I know most of you are well past this point, but for those of us just beginning this journey, I would love to hear your advice…

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/annagaycoan Anna Gay

    In addition to being able to provide your website and email in your profile section on Flickr, you actually CAN link your website/facebook/etc in the description of the photo on Flickr. I always see a spike in activity on my website and Facebook when I provide a link to them on my most recent Flickr photo.

  • Demelza

    I don’t have a flickr account, most likely never will. I use Picasa for a photo challenge that my friends and I do, and share photos with family and friends only, on Facebook. I’m just breaking into the professional sphere and am in the process of creating a website for this.

  • http://www.tafabo-images.com Tammy

    Very interesting article…food for though!

    I have an account on Flickr…and a personal Smugmug website. I’m by no means a pro…just an amateur with a passion for photography! My website is more like a gallery – photos I am particularly pleased with – presented in a more “professional” manner.

    I like to think of Flickr as my “sandbox”. A place to throw out ideas, try new things, ping-pong ideas with other photographers. And it’s my place for learning. I am part of a small group where we actively comment on each others photos…REAL comments (crop suggestions, exposure ideas, etc). I occasionally post on a “critique” group for an even wider group of “eyes”. Different eyes see photos differently…I appreciate all kinds of views and ideas.

    I am not a member of many groups, but the groups I am a member of are groups mainly related to my camera brand and/or models. This is THE place for getting advice/help/guidance on MY camera by folks that use THAT particular camera.

    I’m keeping both…but, now that you mention it, I think it is time to “house clean” my Flickr stream! Thanks for the reminder!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/9273455@N04/

  • http://www.mokkagallery.co.uk Will McA

    Excellent points, but I don’t see why either of your negative points are reasons to abandon flickr. For the first one, you can always delete old photos which aren’t up to scratch.

    For the second one I don’t see why having your own website means you have to abandon flickr unless you are suggesting that even with your own website, if potential clients find out you also have a flickr account it could ruin their perception of you being professional.

  • Diego

    If you are a professional photographer, with target clients such as weddings, portraits, etc, don’t rely only on Flickr to showcase your work. If you don’t know how to design a website yourself, you can find a professional webmaster to make a site, with all you need to best show and promote your work.
    I would not suggest to remove your Flickr account. You can always take advantage of its popularity and leave there those photos that show the best of your photographer’s skills. Meanwhile, you can concentrate your energy in making your site the best it can be, in order to achieve your bussines goals. It’s only common sense. The Flickr account will be, simply, another tool for you business growth.

  • Matthew, this is the most insightful and helpful article I have seen on the subject. I’ m sure it will help many photographers choose the right path for their future work. Thanks!

  • Neil C

    Had a Flickr Pro Account for two years and had uploaded close to 6000 photos. Went to renew back in Dec. and they REFUSED to accept my AMEX card as payment. On each attempt, AMEX approved the charge and YAHOO/Flickr refused them a total of 8 times. Contact with the horrible customer service dept through email and phone calls produced nothing except accusations by Flickr that it was either my fault or AMEX’s fault. They cut access to the account and limited it to 200 of the 6000 photos. I filed complaints with the BBB and AMEX. After BBB inquiry was received at Flickr, someone got off their butts but by that time, I had deleted all photos and moved my photos to another hosting service. I will NEVER do business with YAHOO ever again!

  • Vinny

    I had someone tell me—use facebook for some pics—and Flickr for a few more and your blog for your most creative stuff—what does everyone think???

  • http://www.evg3.com/ CyberGus

    Great great great article.

    Presentation and branding is the best part and maybe the most important.

  • http://www.hikingmike.com HikingMike

    Count me as an amateur :) Flickr has gotten me pretty high in some image searches before and I’ve just used it for personal social reasons until recently. Now that I have a web site (that is not about professional photography), I plan to continue using flickr for images of my hiking trips and other shots and to link to my web site. Flickr is really good at its purpose, and I’m just starting to attempt taking advantage of the SEO.

  • http://srpicture.com Steven Robertson

    I have used Flickr for a couple years but I wouldn’t base your ability as a photographer on the feedback you get, I’ve saw many poor shots get over a 1000 views with loads of comments because the photo is in 75 groups and whored about the Internet. My tip for Flickr is keep it small, keep your contacts under 200 and only like a shot when you really do. Having 1 nice comment from someone you really like and admire is 1000 times better than random Flickr awards that mean nothing

  • http://enterintolife.mygofoods.com/buy/?sku=60-70100 food food camping food food survival food

    Magnificent post, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite experts of this sector do not understand this. You should continue your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!|What’s Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution & assist other users like its helped me. Great job.

  • http://andrewgphotography.co.uk Andrew

    Decided to abandon flickr. Enjoyed using the site, but when I conctacted them I got the most useless reply I have ever heard! Can’t see what I would be paying for.

    http://www.flickr.com/people/piperand/

  • http://learntoreadnow.com/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=20&Itemid=55 Romeo

    May I simply just say what a relief to find somebody
    who genuinely knows what they’re discussing over the internet. You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people have to look at this and understand this side of the story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular since you definitely have the gift.

  • http://superforum.org.ru/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=210755 Elegant Themes

    Appreciation to my father who informed me regarding this website,
    this web site is really amazing.

  • Swathi
  • atelzzz

    I joined flickr in July and already uploaded 3500 photos there. Will upload another 1000 in the next week. Flickr is pretty cool. I show flickr photos on my site using Flickr API. The sets that are private to client are private on Flickr as well. When the client logs in to my site, I login as me to flickr, and pull the client’s sets. The clients and their sets are maintained in a separate small database. Before I used Picasa, but it screws up images during upload pretty badly, so I dumped it.

  • denis

    I agree with you. I’m exactly at the crossroads where I’m having my own web site, and trying to find my own style. I’m using flickr to actually generate traffic to my web site which is poor now. That’s another good way to use flickr I think. What do you think?

  • Nate

    I’ve been searching for info on Flickr, if anybody’s still using it or not. I have no idea if this article is relevant in November 2013 because there’s no date of publication on it. So I’m not going to read it.

  • Tim Lowe

    Flickr used to be a really nice community. Sure, there were some pretty bad neighborhoods, but it was possible to meet some great people. Many of my photographer friends, I met on Flickr.

    Now it’s just scumbag, social media, wannabe. It’s not as bad as facebook. But it’s getting there.

  • thatguy

    I find the way people talk about photography to be repulsive. Try to keep in mind that this is actually a form of art, not a way to pay your mortgage. At least not for those who have a reason to take a photo other than their greed for money. I strongly suggest you do some reading on art.

  • Ayla Goddard

    This was really helpful in my quest to understand Flickr, thanks. I would love to hear more about how to use in the branding of a blog, and how best to select works / photos that go on Flickr, instead of like Pinterest where anything and everything people want to load can be loaded if you don’t have the right copyright blocks. Cheers again

Some older comments

  • Elegant Themes

    May 25, 2013 10:14 pm

    Appreciation to my father who informed me regarding this website,
    this web site is really amazing.

  • Romeo

    May 19, 2013 02:15 am

    May I simply just say what a relief to find somebody
    who genuinely knows what they're discussing over the internet. You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people have to look at this and understand this side of the story. It's surprising you aren't more popular since you definitely have the gift.

  • Andrew

    April 3, 2013 08:10 am

    Decided to abandon flickr. Enjoyed using the site, but when I conctacted them I got the most useless reply I have ever heard! Can't see what I would be paying for.

    http://www.flickr.com/people/piperand/

  • food food camping food food survival food

    October 25, 2012 08:13 pm

    Magnificent post, very informative. I'm wondering why the opposite experts of this sector do not understand this. You should continue your writing. I'm sure, you've a great readers' base already!|What's Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I've discovered It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution & assist other users like its helped me. Great job.

  • Steven Robertson

    May 26, 2012 03:09 am

    I have used Flickr for a couple years but I wouldn't base your ability as a photographer on the feedback you get, I've saw many poor shots get over a 1000 views with loads of comments because the photo is in 75 groups and whored about the Internet. My tip for Flickr is keep it small, keep your contacts under 200 and only like a shot when you really do. Having 1 nice comment from someone you really like and admire is 1000 times better than random Flickr awards that mean nothing

  • HikingMike

    April 6, 2012 11:54 pm

    Count me as an amateur :) Flickr has gotten me pretty high in some image searches before and I've just used it for personal social reasons until recently. Now that I have a web site (that is not about professional photography), I plan to continue using flickr for images of my hiking trips and other shots and to link to my web site. Flickr is really good at its purpose, and I'm just starting to attempt taking advantage of the SEO.

  • CyberGus

    May 13, 2011 01:47 pm

    Great great great article.

    Presentation and branding is the best part and maybe the most important.

  • Vinny

    January 16, 2011 06:20 am

    I had someone tell me---use facebook for some pics---and Flickr for a few more and your blog for your most creative stuff---what does everyone think???

  • Neil C

    January 14, 2011 07:43 pm

    Had a Flickr Pro Account for two years and had uploaded close to 6000 photos. Went to renew back in Dec. and they REFUSED to accept my AMEX card as payment. On each attempt, AMEX approved the charge and YAHOO/Flickr refused them a total of 8 times. Contact with the horrible customer service dept through email and phone calls produced nothing except accusations by Flickr that it was either my fault or AMEX's fault. They cut access to the account and limited it to 200 of the 6000 photos. I filed complaints with the BBB and AMEX. After BBB inquiry was received at Flickr, someone got off their butts but by that time, I had deleted all photos and moved my photos to another hosting service. I will NEVER do business with YAHOO ever again!

  • '

    January 14, 2011 06:58 pm

    Matthew, this is the most insightful and helpful article I have seen on the subject. I' m sure it will help many photographers choose the right path for their future work. Thanks!

  • Diego

    January 14, 2011 03:08 pm

    If you are a professional photographer, with target clients such as weddings, portraits, etc, don't rely only on Flickr to showcase your work. If you don't know how to design a website yourself, you can find a professional webmaster to make a site, with all you need to best show and promote your work.
    I would not suggest to remove your Flickr account. You can always take advantage of its popularity and leave there those photos that show the best of your photographer's skills. Meanwhile, you can concentrate your energy in making your site the best it can be, in order to achieve your bussines goals. It's only common sense. The Flickr account will be, simply, another tool for you business growth.

  • Will McA

    January 14, 2011 12:52 pm

    Excellent points, but I don't see why either of your negative points are reasons to abandon flickr. For the first one, you can always delete old photos which aren't up to scratch.

    For the second one I don't see why having your own website means you have to abandon flickr unless you are suggesting that even with your own website, if potential clients find out you also have a flickr account it could ruin their perception of you being professional.

  • Tammy

    January 14, 2011 09:01 am

    Very interesting article...food for though!

    I have an account on Flickr...and a personal Smugmug website. I'm by no means a pro...just an amateur with a passion for photography! My website is more like a gallery - photos I am particularly pleased with - presented in a more "professional" manner.

    I like to think of Flickr as my "sandbox". A place to throw out ideas, try new things, ping-pong ideas with other photographers. And it's my place for learning. I am part of a small group where we actively comment on each others photos...REAL comments (crop suggestions, exposure ideas, etc). I occasionally post on a "critique" group for an even wider group of "eyes". Different eyes see photos differently...I appreciate all kinds of views and ideas.

    I am not a member of many groups, but the groups I am a member of are groups mainly related to my camera brand and/or models. This is THE place for getting advice/help/guidance on MY camera by folks that use THAT particular camera.

    I'm keeping both...but, now that you mention it, I think it is time to "house clean" my Flickr stream! Thanks for the reminder!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/9273455@N04/

  • Demelza

    January 14, 2011 12:40 am

    I don't have a flickr account, most likely never will. I use Picasa for a photo challenge that my friends and I do, and share photos with family and friends only, on Facebook. I'm just breaking into the professional sphere and am in the process of creating a website for this.

  • Anna Gay

    January 13, 2011 10:13 pm

    In addition to being able to provide your website and email in your profile section on Flickr, you actually CAN link your website/facebook/etc in the description of the photo on Flickr. I always see a spike in activity on my website and Facebook when I provide a link to them on my most recent Flickr photo.

  • Victoria

    January 13, 2011 09:56 pm

    A very timely article for me as I am just at the stage of wanting to get my shots online. All the comments have have led me to conclude that Flickr is a good thing but only if you use it with its limitations in mind. It's obvious that a personal web site is imperative and this is the area I need advice in.
    I would love a discussion on this. Eg:
    Is it best to create yr own using programs like Dreamweaver etc or is it ok to use sites like Wix to create a portfolio.
    Once you set up a site, how do you then connect it to the world and lead people to it. I suspect there is a way to connect it to the Google search engine???
    Pardon my obvious amateur status here, I know most of you are well past this point, but for those of us just beginning this journey, I would love to hear your advice...

  • George Dewey Powell

    January 13, 2011 08:38 pm

    flickr provides for your email address and website in the profile section.

  • Tallulah

    January 13, 2011 08:09 pm

    I've thought about uploading to Flickr, but am not sold on it yet. Someone mentioned to me a month ago, during my photo exhibit, that they didn't see the point in doing an exhibit when people can just go to the internet and download photos from places like Flickr. That is my main issue with photo sharing sites. So how do you negate that aspect? Upload only low res. photos? Even if you disallow sharing of the photo, people can just use the snipping tool on Win 7 and capture the image. It's frustrating.

    After reading the pros and cons here, I may give Flickr a try with some photos and see how it goes. It certainly provides a means for more people to view our photos, and that is a positive for someone just getting started who does not have a lot of traffic to a website yet.

    Someone mentioned above that you can't link to a website from your photos? Can you put a contact link anywhere? I know Flickr is connected to my yahoo account but I never use that, so I would need a way for people to contact me should they want to use/purchase a photo.

    Thanks everyone for sharing your views. I love this site, and have learned a lot from just reading the comments and articles.

  • Denver Food Photographer

    January 13, 2011 06:05 pm

    I've found flickr to be an invaluable resource and even if it minorly impacts my business from a client perspective, it increases my ability to create great images.... and thus increases my client impact.

  • Heidi Yanulis

    January 13, 2011 02:10 pm

    I recently joined flickr and have found it immensely useful as a means of getting inspiration and ideas from other photographers, as well as feedback on my images. I agree with one of the earlier poster that I would like a bit more constructive criticism of my images. But what I believe happens is that my strong images get feedback and my weaker ones are ignored. That is a kind of feedback in and of itself.

  • hannah

    January 13, 2011 11:11 am

    While i mostly agree with what this post says, about being professional as a photographer; I personally use Flickr as a way to get feedback. And also to learn from other photographers to expand my own work.

    When i see lots of images that i like from other photographers, it inspires me to try new things myself. I still try to be selective with what i upload, and do not just upload "happy snaps". I do not aspire to become a professional photographer, but i see Flickr as a good way for me to see how my photography has grown too. Only being part of the Flickr community for about 6 months or less, I'm definitely staying.

  • Shams Naved

    January 13, 2011 09:37 am

    I personally disagree with both the "abandon" points.

    Refining Your Vision :- Abandon?? Really. I wouldn't know about others but I certainly keep a sentimental touch with my old photos, even if they are a million miles behind the professional quality that I would have achieved. I reminds me of where I started as a photographer and of a journey that still continues. Of course, if you don't want your prospective client to see your photo, you can certainly make it "private". There is no reason to delete the photo or stop using flickr at all. I keep some of my photos with only private permission.. just because I don't want ppl to see them any more but also in the process keeping it.

    Presentation and Branding :- Abandon?? Flickr is certainly not a site for professional. Using it as your personal business webpage would be a folly. The only reason someone would buy a professional account would be to cross that 200 photos a account limit, that Flickr imposes on non-pro accounts, so that you can post more photos online and then post the html code on your website. There are very few businesses which can afford to maintain their own data storage servers.
    Flickr is an awesome way of guiding web traffic to your business website. Only question is how do you achieve it.

    These are

  • Anna Gay

    January 13, 2011 02:15 am

    This is quite a touchy subject for me, as well as a lot of people I know on Flickr. For me, personally, I would be quite lost had it not been for Flickr. Some of my best work opportunities as a photographer have come from people who found me on Flickr.

    While I think it is very important to utilize your resources - have a website/blog, use facebook, twitter, etc - Flickr should definitely be a resource to consider. Never underestimate the power of tagging on Flickr! A lot of amazing opportunities have come my way, simply because I tagged a photo, someone searched for that tag, and found my photostream either on a search engine or Flickr.

    I definitely wouldn't limit myself to Flickr, though, because like Matthew Dutile stated - some of the work in my stream is so old, and not the least bit indicative of where I currently stand as a photographer. Flickr, for me, is simply a publicity machine.

  • Bryan Bukowczyk

    January 13, 2011 12:15 am

    I was thinking of giving up on Flickr, but after reading this I decided to stay.

  • clive moss

    January 12, 2011 11:54 pm

    The main reason I use Flickr is that the ATT U-Verse service allows me to show "slideshows" on my TV by connecting to Flickr. I am clearly not a pro.

  • Patrik

    January 12, 2011 10:24 pm

    I think working with flickr in combination with a personal website is a very good way, by using the API etc. It's actually a very good way of attracting visitors. I do it myself a lot. Basically all my the photos on my site are connected to my flickr account.

    Flickr groups are also great for finding people with similar inrests.

  • Karen Stuebing

    January 12, 2011 09:25 pm

    I began using Flickr when I started the Daily Shoot because everyone who does the Daily Shoot uses Flickr. I hate the photostream thing and I find it clunky and hard to use. Having to drag photos into the Organizer to edit them or add them to a map or groups or whatever is NOT a shortcut.

    But I've made a lot of new friends and when I also got into using Polaroid cameras, there were groups on Flickr for that too.

    There are EXCELLENT photographers on Flickr. I doubt there is a photo site out there that doesn't have its share of snap shot photographers. Are you saying you shouldn't be on any photo site? Just have a web page. What about community and hooking up with other like minded photographers.

    And I am also still on Pbase. Which is pretty much a sinking ship at this point but it DOES give me Google ranking and I'm there for the community which is why everyone else is at this point too. Pbase has some of the most awesome photography I've ever seen. It's a shame it's dying. But what can you expect from a site owned by someone named Slug.

    btw, there is a workaround for the thing at Flickr.

  • Allen Mowery

    January 12, 2011 08:16 pm

    I do not use Flickr as a way of promoting my photography services or as a portfolio for my customers (directly), but there are several ways I use it to meet my specific needs.

    1) I use Flickr as a place to get feedback on my work.

    2) I use it as a tool for finding interesting work, ideas, etc. Sure, you don't have to be a member to do that, but I also use it as a way to get connected/acquainted with other photographers, which requires an account.

    3) I write a regular photography blog, and I find it much more convenient to upload my images to Flickr and then import them into my posts as opposed to uploading them to my server directly. A couple benefits of this are a) decreased stress on my website and less bandwidth used on my server; b) I can update/change the image if I need to (on Flickr's end) without having to go into my posts and change the image info (or upload a new image via FTP).

    4) While I do not use Flickr as a way to promote my photography services to consumers, I do use Flickr to promote my photography blog to other photographers. I have seen a tremendous amount of traffic directly from Flickr. It is also a place to be discovered by other photographers and/or bloggers, which has resulted in my work and writings being featured on other sites.

    5) There are some great plugins that allow me to use images pulled from Flickr (again, decreasing my server bandwidth) and use them in a portfolio that specifically appears on my Wordpress-driven website. I would like to refine my portfolio and it's presentation, so this isn't a solid argument.

  • DerekL

    January 12, 2011 07:50 pm

    Well, it it's criticism you're looking for - there's a metric ton of groups of Flickr dedicated to just that. If all you're doing is dumping your images and running, you're pretty much using Flickr in Auto mode...

    I hate to repeat myself, but the real value of Flickr lies in participating in the groups.

  • Joel

    January 12, 2011 05:59 pm

    I'm currently going through the process of a flickr compromise. I'm making my 'photo dump' type photos visible only to people labelled as 'family.' That way friends and family that all live many many thousands of km's away can see lots of photos, because they all think they are "great" regardless of photographic merit. My aim will to keep relatively few photos public.

    Another note. I suffered a double hard drive failure, and some of the only photos I have left from a 2 year period are ones I was able to salvage from flickr. Certainly not the greatest images, but the memories are preserved, which was the main purpose of those (and lots of other photos) on flickr.

    As for a great place to learn... Not so sure. Usually the "criticism" is limited to "Great Capture." "Nice composition." or "This is great!" (have a sparkly group promoting doo-dad).

  • Dianne Poinski

    January 12, 2011 05:08 pm

    Thank you! I had "add images to Flickr" on my very long to-do list and for many of the reasons you stated, I have just deleted that task from the list.

  • Arun

    January 12, 2011 04:46 pm

    What a timing! I'm in the same phase of abandoning (not entirely) my Flickr a/c for the reasons you just said - especially the second point!

    Although it's a great site to share and learn, it's not the best if you're looking to showcase 'you' being a Pro! You can always have both a Flickr & a website.. depends on your pocket size... but I think I lost my Pro a/c after first year expiry, and I'm still debating whether to renew or not - especially with all the news of Flickr deleting accounts just by their whims and fancies~!

  • Andrew McKenna

    January 12, 2011 04:40 pm

    I love flickr and have been on there for more than 5 years.
    But it is what it is. a photo sharing site and a photographic community.

    Treat it for what it is and not what you want it to be and you'll have no problem.
    It is great for storing images, sharing images and I do love flickr slideshows.

    On the other hand I think it makes a rubbish portfolio site, until recently was completely against selling images, has nonsense link names and makes everyone's work look the same.

    I think pros should use flickr but for the community side of it rather than anything else.

  • George Dewey Powell

    January 12, 2011 02:17 pm

    I've never considered flickr a site where I would sell anything. I've developed some great relationships and gathered some wonderful hints and tips from people much better than I. It appears that most of you are looking to sell your work, and it that's the case, might I suggest you look into RedBubble or deviantArt, for a much more professional presentation of your work. For the rest of you that shoot for the sheer joy of it, flickr should work. I leave mine up, not expecting someone to go way back to view, but I do it and am convinced my effort has made me better. I also don't use PS, as I prefer to view that which caught my attention and not much processed captures. Certainly not anything wrong with it, but like the pictures we take, much of it is purely subjective, including different thoughts on composition if viewed by a left-handed or a right-handed person. Of course this is just my humble, non-professional opinion. Thank you.

  • George L Smyth

    January 12, 2011 01:50 pm

    Good article. I agree that some images can well take down one's whole, which is actually a reason not to have a Pro account, as only the most recent 250 images can be displayed. I have a feeling that too many people just throw everything onto Flickr without thinking about it. I add images and link to my blog at http://glsmyth.wordpress.com/, where I discuss each image that I post. If one cannot (or will not) take the time to speak about each image then why would anyone think that the image is special. That's just my personal spin.

  • meta nemegi

    January 12, 2011 02:25 am

    I like flickr for many of the reasons stated above. Also, I never delete old images. If I no longer want them to be seen I will just change their status to Private. This way, they're still catalogued for my own reference but I don't have to worry about people seeing the inferior shots. It's easy enough.

  • Salahuddin Ahmad Photography

    January 12, 2011 02:16 am

    Some time I fell I am spending 24$ a year and long hours for nother because I am not able to sell any of my work. But at the sametime I also fell happy to show my creation. I am not professional photographer, but I have a Pro account

    Here is my account.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/neelelora/

    Thanks
    Salahuddin Ahmad

  • Chris Kenison

    January 12, 2011 01:36 am

    I actually felt the same way about my flickr account. I was using it more on a personal level, so it wasn't too bad, but then when I tried to become more professional, I deleted the junk and kept the good.

  • Diana

    January 11, 2011 11:47 pm

    So far I'm pretty happy with flickr, but I also don't intend to go professional with my photography. I do think I get a lot for what I pay for, and it's a nice backup system for my mushrooming collection of photos.

  • Steve

    January 11, 2011 10:03 pm

    On a slightly different note, one of the weaknesses I find with Flickr is that there is a dearth of constructive criticism on the site. Generally people comment how wonderful an image is. That may be gratifying, however, if one wants to improve his skills, it would be more fruitful if comments would also include suggestions on how to improve the image.

  • Thos003

    January 11, 2011 09:10 pm

    Wait... there was another reason besides SEO to have a Flickr account?

  • JJ

    January 11, 2011 08:48 pm

    No matter where I go with photography I will always keep my flickr, mainly for a good online place to share some photos that aren't business related.

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer

    January 11, 2011 08:24 pm

    Here is a vote to KEEP one's flickr account -- just last month a magazine asked to purchase a photo (a not so serious photo of a pug puppy I took months ago). This resulted in earning a very random and easy $150.

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/2010/12/30/pug-puppy-photo-found-on-flickr-published-in-first-magazine.html

    I am also able to see photos from and stay in touch with photographers I met in other countries.

    The point about older work not being up to par with one's current work is true....however, I wonder how many people will wade through my 500+ images to get to some of the first ones that I would no longer be proud of. I try to steer visitors to the collections of favorite images in the sidebar to further push only my best content. And in the past two years I only post my single favorite photo from any given shoot/job/day at the park.

    I would just suggest that one always watermark the photos put on flickr, and limit the width to say 600px--1024px. Also, if you do post a photo, make the effort to give it a proper title, post the exif data in the description under the photo, and give a bit of a story behind the shot. Just tossing up some photo titled "DSC_8734.jpg" with zero description, etc results in me never commenting on it. I figure if the photographer made no effort, why should I?

    My flickr (pro membership) photostream:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasoncollin/

  • fortunato_uno

    January 11, 2011 08:22 pm

    When started looking into photos sights, I checked into fliker. found that every kid/adult with a cell phone posts every shot they take (most of them terrible). why bother? I would use smugmug, but I honesly can't afford the $250.oo (usd) per year. so I kept looking. I found Talenttrove. well they changed thier name and are now Lafango. I have to say I was thrilled to find a growing sight. problem is, they are starting to get a lot of people who do like they do one fliker, posting every crappy shot from thier cell phone. Looks like I'll have to save my pennies and get a smugmug account. after all it is the only one I have found that has the ability to stop people from stealing your images.

  • Martyn Lewis

    January 11, 2011 07:59 pm

    I agree with many of the positive comments above regarding flickr...

    Particularly those that mention the versatility of the flickr api. I use it access to my flickr uploads and incorporate them into my professional portfilio, using specific sets to limit and organise the contents of each particular gallery. I use a JavaScript library called galleria, to do so. That also means that it's cross browser compatible too, so even clients using iPhones to view my site get a rich, eady to use interface with pictures that really do my work justice. I'll be keeping my flickr for many years to come, thanks...

    Take a peek:

    www.martynlewisphotography.com

    Martyn.

  • Rob

    January 11, 2011 07:49 pm

    How about a follow up article on setting up a professional site as pehaps the next step from flickr ? ( unless this has already been written somewhere in DPS )

    Regards

  • Brandon

    January 11, 2011 06:49 pm

    I've been running my Flickr gallery for over a year now, and it seems to have proven itself as a useful tool. I haven't jumped on their Pro membership, as I see their free one just as adequate for me. I would have to agree with many others, at least saying that your own personal website gallery or portfolio is a more professional aspect, but in my opinion, I think Flickr is perfect for me. As a teenager who considers himself to be an advanced beginner, I believe Flickr provides a great network for feedback on my pictures. I can link with many professions to get advice, find people that share the same outlook on life, and even get my name out there.

  • d90dewey

    January 11, 2011 06:43 pm

    Kelly, check out posterous. I do a picture blog there for family and friends. It's a great place take a look at how they display there. funny thing is, they check them out there and contact me via facebook....go figure.

  • Matthew Dutile

    January 11, 2011 06:39 pm

    Thanks for all your thoughts everyone. Keep 'em coming! It's always best to hear as many different opinions as possible. Just remember to play nice ;)

  • Lindsay Berger

    January 11, 2011 05:53 pm

    There are some great points in the article and the responses. Flickr excels as an easy way to get your photos onto the web. As for using your own website to present your own branding and style, the Flickr API allows you to do just that. I was able to incorporate my Flickr sets into my own website using the PHPFlickr library. ( http://bergersoft.com/photos/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/bergersoft ) I am definitely at the amateur level of skill. I have gone through many of the painful purges of photos that no longer represent my abilities. Sharing and participating on Flickr has helped me with that, helped me find inspiration and helped me grow my skills.

  • Kelly

    January 11, 2011 05:37 pm

    Not a professional photographer (or blogger), so this might be a dumb question. What do you use instead of flickr to upload photos to your blog or photo site? I use Blogger and was uploading via their server until I started noticing how terrible the images looked compared to flickr or the images on my hard drive. I then learned that the downsampling Blogger uses is pretty awful = pretty awful images on posts. If I "abandon" flickr what's the alternative so my pics don't look like crap on my blog? I might not be a pro, but I take pride in the photos I share and would like them to look nice in blog posts. Thought? Suggestions? (Other than "don't abandon flickr").

  • anise

    January 11, 2011 05:01 pm

    This just prompted me to go through my flickr account, and delete at least 20 images (from the thousand to choose from...).

    Editing is a photographers best friend. Thanks for the reminder!

  • DerekL

    January 11, 2011 05:01 pm

    Sure, there's a lot of people who upload everything on Flickr, but if you can't find the photographers who pick and choose what they upload and do fantastic work... You really aren't trying very hard.

    You also missed the real strength of Flickr - the Groups. Want to talk about the best places to photograph in 'x' location? There's a group for that. (Sometimes even if 'x' is a small remote town.) Want to find experts in your make and model of camera? There's a group for that. Interested in a very narrow subfield of photography? There's a group for that too... usually several.

  • Lea

    January 11, 2011 04:55 pm

    Thanks for the insight. I keep my Flickr account solely as a means to post images to DPS and share in a few photography groups. I never link it to my website or blog. I think it's a really fun way to connect with other photogs, pro and amateur alike. I've met some people from all across the world and it would be hard to do that anywhere else!

  • Bart

    January 11, 2011 04:29 pm

    So when you commute daily 50 miles on the highway in a Sedan, you should sell that 4x4 terrain car that you keep for the weekends? Even if you can afford it and like driving off-road in the weekends? That's BS, I think.

    Flickr is good for certain things and not for others. But to [b]abandon[/b] your Flickr site if you're a professional? Why not just not stop using it as your "professional" site but by all means continue to use it for private use? Wouldn't that make more sense? Quitting Flickr all together because there's one aspect of it that you shouldn't use it for is just, well... not smart.

  • Kim Morrison

    January 11, 2011 04:26 pm

    My thought on this of course would be that as time progresses and hopefully your photography skills improve your photo portfolio on Flickr can and probably will change also.
    The mindset here of course is that those who continue to hone and perfect there skills will hone and perfect their online photographs on Flickr also.
    Abandon Flickr no. Use Flickr as a tool and basic showroom yes.
    We should remember that every budding photographer needs a place to post their photos. I have always felt that Flickr entertains members from the most basic photographers to certainly above average photographers.

  • Matt

    January 11, 2011 04:25 pm

    Also, I'm working on my own site that's using the API. Here's a quick description of what I'm doing. I am setting up a small photo booth business. I want to publish an entire session on my web site for customers to view and reorder larger prints. I put each event in a set on my Flickr account and give it a unique numeric ID for a description (the customer's reference ID). They enter the reference ID on my site and it pulls all items from that Flickr set and allows them to order. Pretty cool custom use of an existing infrastructure I think.

  • Matt

    January 11, 2011 04:22 pm

    For anyone with any web development background the Flickr API allows you to use the Flickr guts (storage, metadata, organization, etc) and present it in any way you want. I personally think that there will never be a photo storage site that works EXACTLY the way I want, so for me the Flickr API helps. Google has an API for Picasa and other sites have API's too, but I think Flickr's is easy to work with and I love the site myself. Any desktop application for Flickr uploading, mass downloading, web sites that have custom gallery pages based on Flickr images, etc all use the Flickr API.

    Check out the "App Garden"
    http://www.flickr.com/services/

    http://www.flickr.com/services/api/

    http://kylerush.net/tutorials/flickr-photo-wall/

  • Dan

    January 11, 2011 04:10 pm

    Bottom line, if you don't have a flickr account your NOT a "PRO". To me a PRO is just a business, nothing more or nothing less.

    Not having a flickr account as a PRO/business is much like a business not advertising in the yellow pages or not having a web site, facebook or any other form of advertising.

    Even the POTUS PRO has a flickr site!

    What I can't stand is non pros using a so called pro site like pbase.com (which is a terrible site) for sharing mainly because they think that flickr is not professional . The old "pros" still use these old site mainly because it's their first love and all their work is stuck at these locations.

    Great subject!

  • mike

    January 11, 2011 04:00 pm

    What might some other "pro" sites be. Like for client proofing...

  • Kiran

    January 11, 2011 03:52 pm

    I think it's individual interest. For eg, Flickr is a tool I use to keep in touch with families and friends back home.

    Btw, I have a Trey Ratcliff sponsored giveaway on my blog :)

  • Dave

    January 11, 2011 03:52 pm

    I have a small stream on Flickr. I don't use it for a place to store family pics as some do. Nothing wrong with that mind you. I posted some that I thought might be good enough to call photographs. Getting cutesy comments are fine if you just want to have your ego stroked but I like the more critical ones from places like Photo Sig or 1x. com that I can learn from and improve on my amateur abilities. IMHO.

  • matabum, MaP blog

    January 11, 2011 03:13 pm

    For me, Flickr is mostly a place for learning from other great photographers and a place where i can find amazing photographers who i can interview in my blog. Without Flickr it would be much more harder to search for great photographers from all around the world.
    Flickr photostream is generally just one of backups of my portfolio...

  • Jerry

    January 11, 2011 03:09 pm

    @Nick P: I see a steady flow of hits from Flickr API feeds and Flickr searches. It would be interesting to see how many would convert to a click through to your own site. Perhaps not good business click through, but useful if all you want to do is show off some good photos.

  • Jerry

    January 11, 2011 02:58 pm

    I am a confirmed amateur photographer with no ambitions to becoming a pro (though a few stock/print sales would be fun!).
    I also designed and ran my own photo website until Flickr just made it easier. Even so, as my own skills improve (in my view anyway) I have been having second thoughts. There are now so many tools available to setup your own photo website or photo blog, reflecting your own style, at little cost. With a bit of SEO it is not that hard to get a similar hit rate as you can on Flickr.
    Perhaps The Best on your own site and The Rest on Flickr for the SEO?

  • Jessica

    January 11, 2011 02:51 pm

    I enjoyed your article, but I think it reads like an either/or situation... when really it seems like keeping a Flickr account for tagging purposes and wide-spread exposure at the same time as creating a professional site for branding and refining-your-vision purposes is entirely possible.

  • Nick P

    January 11, 2011 02:45 pm

    Hate to burst your bubble but Flickr is useless for SEO too so perhaps that should be "Abandon".

    On any links you add - to your own blog, facebook or other social profiles, or even your email - Flickr will automatically add a "nofollow" tag to the link. As a result of this, Google will not follow the link and therefore not associate the imagery and tags with your link.

    Flickr is only interested in driving traffic to itself doesn't want to share that.

  • Meg

    January 11, 2011 02:32 pm

    I abandoned the flickr ship long time ago. I think is pretty funny how in the forums they justify Flickr's team actions (or lack of actions) as "what else do you want for $25USD. See, it is not our problem if they don't want to charge more, but the fact that they give you no control over your photos, is your lame business model. When they decided to make it easier to get the large size of your images a default setting, you like it or not, was pretty much the drop that spilled the glass. The flickr fans justify this saying that "once an image is up in the internet anyone can get it". That doesn't mean you have to make it easier. and in that case, how come there are websites like smugmug or even Facebook that have a lot more privacy options?

    The cherry on the pie: they keep your pictures hostage if your pro license go away. You want them? pay me. Ah if you even want them, before your memberships runs away, they offer no option to download YOUR pictures, and you have to go to get external program to do this for you.

    And like you said, most of the people there are amateurs. And you aren't going to sell your work to more photographers, and Flickr is unfortunately a free stock image website for a lot of companies. No thank you. I honestly can't see any value to their product anymore and I paid them for four years. Nothing like your own website, where you can have a better control of things.

    Ah, and you said that people can put the link to their commercial website on each photo... this is not true, this is a reason to get your account deleted. That info can only be on your profile. Flickr sucks that much.

  • Chris

    January 11, 2011 02:32 pm

    I've been thinking about this for a while. I don't link my flickr account to anything else, since flickr isn't the tool to show people your best work, it's a place to learn.

    flickr does seem to have a style it likes though. mainly something in focus, according to rule of thirds with minimum DOF... thats the flickr style. If you want to be taken seriously as a photographer, flickr is not the place, but that doesn't mean you can' be on there at all...

  • Rudy

    January 11, 2011 02:16 pm

    "You’re only as good as your worst image"? I disagree. Flickr is my timeline of learning to be a better photographer and I find it useful to be able to go back and see where I've come from and how much I've learned.

    If this statement were true then I guess all of us suck, because we all started somewhere with some awful images.

  • Daryl Goard

    January 11, 2011 02:11 pm

    Good article! The way I am thinking about Flickr these days is I keep everything there and publish the images I want to showcase from Flickr to my website.

  • Noel

    January 11, 2011 02:01 pm

    There is one very strong argument for abandoning flickr that is not mentioned in this article, account deletion without explanation: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deepapraveen/5340132714/

  • Heather

    January 11, 2011 01:59 pm

    As far as the presentation and branding reason to abandon Flickr is "iffy" at best. I don't see any reason why you can't have a separate website for your "portfolio" work and still keep Flickr.

    I have gotten some of the best & worst feedback on my photos on Flickr. I know one pro photographer who gets most of his print sales because of Flickr.

    I think if we view Flickr in the light of an actual community vs photo storage, it takes on a different perception.

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