I’ve been on Flickr since the early days, around 2006 just when I was first getting started in photography. Flickr was an amazing community then, I learned so much about photography and the thrill of having people favorite and comment on my photos when I was starting out was a HUGE encouragement to keep shooting.
Flickr was the Instagram of the day, it was THE place to share photos easily with friends & family and among other photographers. The groups was a great place to discuss whatever the group was about and even meet up in person for photowalks. I never got involved much in groups because where I live, in Vermont, there wasn’t any active Flickr groups for local photowalks.
I had a lot of fun sharing my photos on Flickr over the years and nothing was more exciting until you woke up one morning and checked your Flickr to discover your photo you uploaded the day before made it into Explore, that’s ultimately when I started to get noticed. The early days of Explore was actually something you wanted to aim for. When your photo got into Explore, you could get hundreds of new followers and thousands and thousands of views. Sadly today, Explore isn’t the same anymore. I’ll get a photo in Explore and while I still get thousands of views, I might get 5 new followers and they eventually unfollow a few days later if I didn’t follow them back. Kind of sounds like Instagram, right?
Getting your photo into Explore today is quite meaningless. Most of the top photographers on Flickr get their photos in Explore about every day it seems and it’s almost the same photos over and over again. Some with giant huge ugly watermarks and some are just screenshots from a video game! Gotta love algorithms! I eventually stopped caring about Explore.
Flickr eventually became the place to dump your photos as a backup solution and this dumping trend continued and continued, especially when they offered 1TB of free storage. Even early Pro members had unlimited storage for $24 a year which was a cheap method of backing up photos and videos. Some groups also became a dumping ground as well. Someone would dump 150 photos of the same thing in groups and all you’d see is their photos and no one else’s. Some groups only allowed 1 or 2 photos a day, heck sometimes even a week or month! These were the ones I usually joined. However, lately they seemed to have cracked down on this quite a bit by limiting free accounts to 1,000 photos and upping the price of Pro membership to $50 per year.
With the rise of Instagram, I’ve started to notice a decrease in activity on Flickr. There was a point around 2015-2017, just before SmugMug bought Flickr I was getting crazy amount of activity on my Flickr page. After this whole Yahoo and SmugMug deal in early 2018, it just went downhill for me. Perhaps my photography did too, but I don’t believe that was the case. I talked to other photographers on Flickr who were WAY more popular than me who would get 1,000s of favorites/views and comments on their photos noticed a major decrease in activity around that time SmugMug bought Flickr. I honestly think people were afraid what was going to happen and decided to jump ship.
I stuck around because I really liked SmugMug and most of the people at SmugMug are photographers as well so I was really hopefully that things would turn around for the company. But for me personally, it was just a little too late. It took me a good year to decide if I wanted to leave Flickr and my 1,600 followers. Flickr just isn’t what it used to be anymore, those days have come and gone. During the peak days of Flickr, I was getting decent exposure. I’ve sold prints, had job opportunities and even had photos in Magazines. However, once Instagram took off, all that went down the drain sadly. If you want your work to get out there today, Instagram is the platform to do it right now.
Another reason why I left Flickr was the fact that my family or friends never really looked at my Flickr, they only saw my work on my Facebook or Instagram. When I exclusively shared my work on Flickr for a while, the majority of my family and friends thought I stopped taking pictures. That’s the sad reality of the world these days and what social media has done to the internet. Facebook is NOT the only place on the web, I can’t stand Facebook and sadly Facebook owns Instagram which is really worrisome but lately Instagram has been doing some things that hopefully will put the focus back onto photography.
I also been wanting to simplify things by sharing my work to less platforms and having more time to focus on my photography by taking photographs that I love and I want to take rather than taking photos for internet points that are absolutely 100% meaningless. By only focusing on my website and using instagram sparinginly, it frees up time for me to do other things like work on making videos for my YouTube channel and writing articles on my website and well, photographing of course…
I still think Flickr is an amazing place to share your photography, I really do. Even a lot of photographers who abandoned Flickr years ago are becoming active again which is awesome. But if you look at the statistics, Flickr is on a decline and if SmugMug doesn’t perform a miracle soon, it will continue on that decline. But I am hopeful that Flickr will make a comeback and wouldn’t hesitate to come back. I know my account and photos will always be there ready for me.
I realized as photographers we need to stop relying on these platforms as our ONLY method of sharing our work. I really want to see our own personal websites become an extension of yourself where you share your work rather than just on social media. I am absolutely inspired by what Eric Kim is doing by only sharing his work on his website via photoblog, I wished more people did it.