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Flickr changed my life. True story.
I am a relatively new Flickr convert and a full fledged Flickr evangelist and my number one message to the masses: Flickr isn’t a dumping ground for ‘pics’. It isn’t a graveyard where millions of images are laid to rest never to be seen again. It is a community where photographers share their latest conquests and view beautiful works by other artists. Of course, there are probably millions of users who merely dump and run but I think Flickr has done something rather clever to prevent too many non-users: they charge a minor yearly fee for accounts who want to upload more than a certain number of images. This might turn off a huge percentage of users who just want a free method of generating a url for their photos to put on Ebay but I think it just weeds out those who don’t intend on doing much with their subscription in the first place.
So how can I make the statement that Flickr changed my life? First I’ll lay a foundation for where I’m coming from. I firmly believe that the number one way any visual artist can become better at what they do is to view other works of art. It opens you to the possibilities, techniques, ideas and concepts you may have never entertained before. Allow me to demonstrate. Before I became engrossed in Flickr, I’d never before seen:
I didn’t know about such things when I was newly into photography and having my eyes opened to not only beautiful photography but also the techniques processes that fellow photographers use to achieve such works revolutionised my skills and ability immediately. I think all photographers experience the frustration of not understanding why they haven’t achieved a look they were going for and I think that a photographer who isn’t wholly committed could easily give up after their first couple disappointments. But with the community of Flickr, you don’t have to wonder how to take beautiful photos. Users regularly share their techniques and even detailed ‘recipes’ they used in their post processing work flow. Had I not been able to access that valuable information, I would have thought that I was just a bad photographer and been discouraged. I didn’t realise that there were such things as textures and presets before being enlightened to them courtesy of the wonderful photographers on Flickr.
What about the safety of your images? Well, when you add someone as a contact, you can also specify if you want them to not only be a contact, but also a ‘friend’ or ‘family’ status. Then when you upload certain images with permission limited to family, only they can see them. Their most ingenious function, though, is that you can choose to not allow users to view your photos in their full size and Flickr will do something amazing: they layer a transparent image over your image so that if someone right-clicks to save your image, they are actually only saving the clear overlay. Genius.
I have learned a couple things about protecting yourself lately. There have been a few people found on Flickr who add other users’ photos to their stream and say that they are their own. Obviously, a HUGE no-no and one which doesn’t usually take long to catch. I put my name on all of mine. Another trick is that if you notice that quite a few of your photos have been ‘favourited’ by a particular user and you go to their profile and they have no photos of their own, only favourited ones, there’s something fishy going on. I only allow real users to keep my photos. If I notice someone favouriting my photos who has a profile of nothing but other users’ photos, I block them. Just seems to me that they may be stockpiling images for stock or other uses which aren’t above-board.
If you haven’t used it before or are new to Flickr, here are some pointers and screen shots to help guide you (there is a thumbnail gallery below if you want to click on them and see full-sized).