Why I am returning to my terribly neglected Flickr stream and not setting up an Instagram account
How often do you hear critical voices when it comes to Flickr. The dinosaur of photo sharing has become less important over the ascent of Instagram, Snapchat and co. What once was the only and probably best photo sharing site has gone through a tough renewal and rejuvenation and might now be able to attract old friends again. This is my story why I am returning to Flickr.
Flickr was the first social platform I used and therefore I have some sentimental and even nostalgic feelings for it. I was not a user from the beginning but Flickr gave my photography a jump start and this was due to the simple fact that I could show my images to the world. This was frustrating and sometimes still is and when I turned my back on Flickr as I was tired of putting more effort in promoting my work socially than photographing. The explore engine can be a boon and bane and I caught myself shooting in a way that my photographs had a higher chance to be explored. This was unfortunately not only more limiting but also frustrating. It almost killed my creativity. During my Flickr break I concentrated on series, pushing my work into other directions. I started this blog and while it was only moderately successful in the beginning it was a good outlet for many of my thoughts and creative endeavors. All in all a very valuable experience.
Over the time I additionally found a great community on Twitter, but Twitter obviously is not a photo sharing site and has other drawbacks. Many photographers of the Twitter community use Instagram or Snapchat and I was quite tempted to go and search my luck on IG. I am glad I did not do this.
How many users are on Instagram? I don't know, but probably several millions. Do I want to be just another Instagram user who is again competing for follower numbers and does forget about intent of its photography again. Just as Instagram is gearing more and more to brutal mainstream, I think it is time to go back to the good old lady of photo sharing. No fancy features, no Snapchat, no unnecessary frills. Flickr does what it can do best, it concentrates on photography. Ok, there have been many annoying changes in the Flickr universe and some of them have been more than unnecessary, but in the end many changes have improved the Flickr experience and it still is what it started out to be: a pure photo sharing site. I love that it is not curated as 1px. This of course significantly raises the overall quality of images, but also dramatically impedes creativity. You need to match the taste of the curators and we are back to the old dilemma where we shoot to please others. Nothing I want to do anymore. I don't care too much about the quantity of followers, but more about friendship and I am happy to say that I have met the best friends in the virtual photography world on Flickr. Flickr has a lot to offer for social interaction. The Flickr mail system works well, the notification system is pleasing and the best of all it supports groups.
For quite a while now I am an administrator for "The Critique Portfolio Pro" group which I am very proud of. There is a bunch of fantastic people in this group and the whole idea is to support each other by good and honest image critique and lively discussions. I always fulfilled my duty in this group even when I was less active on Flickr. I now promised to be back and this feels so right!
But with all the praise I do see quite a potential for Flickr to improve! I would love to see a customization option to adjust the look of the photo stream site. Another thing that I miss is a good "welcome page" for everybody who comes to see your profile. There needs to be more room for a personal voice. I also think we need new features for photographers who work in series. Albums alone won't do the trick. They gather images in groups and that's it. Photographers often work in series and Flickr as a major site should do more for people who want present a series of images as a cohesive body of work.
I will most probably use Flickr differently than I used to. No more chasing the numbers of faves and views. I will use it as my personal space. My space for sharing work with other like minded people.
Welcome back in the Flickr universe!