Why I still love Flickr

Anyone who has been following me for awhile knows that I'm a longtime Flickr fan. I'll admit that I'm a little nervous these days Yahoo sold to Verizon. I've been watching the news and it will be interesting to see what happens. I'm hopefully optimistic that Verizon will keep Flickr in place and until something happens to make me think otherwise, I still think Flickr is THE very best thing when it comes to online photo storage and sharing. I have yet to find a site that allows you to upload so many pictures for free and access the full size resolution. Each user gets 1TB of storage for free! There are pro options (again) but they aren't really necessary unless you want to go ad-free.

I've updated an older post that I posted on my blog back in 2009 and found that it is still very relevant. Here are 10 things I still love about Flickr.

There are so many wonderful reasons to use flickr.com and very few drawbacks (which I will also address) and I thought it would be helpful to do a roundup of all the reasons that I use Flickr and why I think you should also! I am in no way affiliated with Flickr and I have not received any compensation or incentive to put together this post. I'm just sharing a great resource that has been useful to me. If you are not familiar with Flickr, you may want to take a few minutes and go through the help section.

On with the list...
1. Store your photos in another location. If your house burns down, or your computer goes bye-bye, your photos will still be safe and easily accessible. I also back up my photos to DVD, but I feel better knowing that they are stored on Flickr as well. There are limits to how many photos you can upload each month when you have a free account. There are no limits to how many you can upload with a pro account. I have a pro account. I currently have more almost 53,000 photos on Flickr and I wouldn't want to lose any of them. It's like having an enormous external hard drive full of photos that I can access from any computer with an Internet connection.

2. The full resolution size of your photo can be downloaded at any time. All you have to do is go to the photo on flickr and choose "all sizes" then select "download original size" and it is like you pulled the photo off of your hard drive or a cd. Perfect for when you are away from home or if you don't want to carry all of your photos with you at all times. Just use the arrow at the bottom of the screen to select different sizes.

3. You can download other people's pictures or they can download yours using this same method, but ONLY if you want them to. You can control the privacy for each and every picture that you upload. Why would you want other people to be able to download your photos? What about Grandma? Or Aunt Becky? Instead of having to send cds/dvds of photos to them, they can simply go to your flickr photostream and get the photos that they want. You can do the same thing. Many of the pictures I upload are marked for family only because while most of the world might not be interested in them, my family sure is. This is a great way to distribute photos to others who attended a group event with you. No more burning discs for everyone. The only trick is that you have to mark those contacts as friends or family is you want to keep the photos private otherwise. Here are my privacy settings. I can edit these at any time.

4. Organize your photos. Flickr is a great way to keep your photos organized and easy to enjoy. When you upload your photos you can sort them into albums or sets. I keep my photos organized by year with an album for each calendar year. I also have sets for photo projects like mosaics, digital scrapbook pages, and themes. You can even keep the same photo in several different sets. Here's a link to see how I've organized my photo collection.

5. Tag your photos. This goes along with the organization idea, but also gives you an incredible tool for searching through your own photostream (also useful for searching through other people's photos). What does tagging mean? Flickr does a nice job of explaining it here. There are also some simple steps to follow on WikiHow. When I upload a photo I try to tag it with relevant information like year, location, names of people in the picture, etc. Then when I search my own photostream, it is so easy to find what I'm looking for. When I type the word "Germany" into the search box on my photostream all the photos that I've tagged with "Germany" show up.

6. Get feedback on your photos. If you mark your photographs viewable to the public then you might get some comments about them. This is useful for improving your photography skills because you will learn which kind of shots generate the most interest and compliments. You are more likely to get feedback on your pictures if you are leaving feedback for others or if you are members of groups. It gets even more fun when you win awards from other members, or when you are invited to post your photo in exclusive groups. You can see examples in the comments field of this collage I posted on Flickr several years ago.

7. Create an idea file. When you mark a photo as a "favorite" you can always find it later on by going through your favorites folder. This is like having an idea book of inspiration available to you anytime you are online. I can spend hours browsing through photographs that I've marked as favorites!

8. One of the best things (and also the worst) about Flickr is that you can enjoy other people's photographs. As I mentioned in #7, there is so much inspiration on Flickr that you can fill your files and mind with wonderful ideas to inspire your own work. The downside is that you can end up seeing a lot of mediocre pictures, or even some downright offensive ones. There are precautions you can take though. Just like any site on the Internet, you have to be careful. Every photo has a place where you can flag the image as inappropriate or you can simply report a user or content to Flickr. The site is also monitored quite well and Flickr will shut down accounts that break the rules. You can also adjust the settings in your account to turn on safe search and to mark the content for your own photostream. Another way you can improve what you see when you log in to Flickr is to join at least a few groups and mark a couple of contacts. Then the content they provide will show up on your home page instead of pictures from the general photostream. Be sure to review your account settings by clicking on your picture profile icon.

9. Make contacts. Reach out to friends and family and connect with them on flickr. You can mark them to have special photo viewing privileges if you want to keep some or all of your photos private and you can see what they are uploading. (See #3) You can mark someone as a contact and they may not return the favor, there is no rule for reciprocation. This is nice to know if you want to follow the work of some well-known photographers. Go ahead and mark them as a contact and don't worry about whether or not they add you in return. The interesting thing is you can actually make friends through this tool on Flickr. I had no idea that would occur when I first signed up, but I have made some great online friends from all over the world as a result of finding favorites, groups, and contacts on Flickr. Feel free to add me as a contact on Flickr.

10. Join groups. This really changed the Flickr experience for me and gave me the feeling of being part of a community. Even if you aren't all that interested in the social media aspect of Flickr, I would still suggest you join some groups as it gives your Flickr membership a sense of direction. With more than 5,000 photos uploaded to Flickr every second of the day, you couldn't possible hope to keep up with what flashes by on the screen. Being part of a few (or many) groups that match your own interests will make the site much more meaningful. Groups will also inspire you to try new things and help you see places and ideas that you might never run into any other way. When you add your own photos to a group, you become part of that community. If you aren't comfortable with sharing your own photos, you can at least enjoy the creativity of others by following a group's photo pool.  The groups that I belong to have inspired me to take photographs that I never imagined on my own.

Some of my favorite groups: 


As you can tell, I'm still a big fan of Flickr! It's a great way to store and share your photos. I love having the extra backup and a quick way to look through my photos. It's not perfect, but it's pretty awesome overall!