For people not yet aware of what Flickr is, it is (at it’s simplest) an online service that lets you upload and share photos for free. On top of that though, it is a massive community of users. You can find pictures of anything on Flickr, from holiday snaps to pictures that look so professional you’d expect to see them in a gallery.
In fact, I like it so much, I just shelled out for a Pro Account – as I only ever spend money in extreme circumstances, this might clue you into quite how much I like it. I was going to go for broke and the two year option, but then I had a moment of future-shock. Will they even be around in two years time? Will there be something better on the scene? My gut tells me they will still be around but… I’m no fortune teller. That, and I have no spare cash – the one year option of $24 (roughly Â£14) was about all I could stretch to.
When I started using Flickr a year or so now, I thought the 200 photos you get on the free account was more than enough – and it is. It’s taken me a year to max it out. What happens when you uploaded your 201st image, is the 1st image goes into hiding etc. It is still there online, but it no longer appears on your ‘photos’ page. I held out from paying till a photoset I really liked disappeared into the ether. That, and with the Pro account you can have as many sets as you want (I’ve had to resort to using tags as jury-rigged sets this past year). Oh, and a 2 GB monthly upload limit.
I’ll stop now 😛 Basically, the free account is perfect for casual use, and enough to let you find out for yourself if you want to spend the money or not. You don’t get nagged to upgrade as some services do. If you haven’t got one, go get a Flickr account today, then share the URL in the comments so we can have a look 🙂
I use Flickr extensively as the online repository for my digital pictures – either quick snaps I have taken to illustrate a moment, or whole collections of memories – and often times what I blog links to Flickr, or what I flickr links back to Bright Meadow. (Thanks, by the way, to Paul for a great definition of the new verb ‘to flickr’). Whilst you can view just my Flickr stream, or read just the blog, you kinda miss out on part of the fun. Both contain facets of my online life, and more and more my ‘online’ life is becoming part of my mainstream life – it’s starting to get now that I’ll refer even work colleagues to Flickr if they want to see my holiday snaps. My friends have long been stopping by Bright Meadow to check I am still in the land of the living (my inability to answer email is getting so far beyond a joke as to become almost legend). I’ve got a mental list of friends who are happy to appear in snaps online and those who aren’t. I’ve got plans for something I’m rolling out in a little while that will tie my use of Bright Meadow and Flickr even closer together.
On top of that, I love the community of users. The ability to comment on people’s work, add notes, favourite them. Get feedback. Make contacts. Join groups. There are groups for the oddest of things – the railways of the Isle of Wight for example.
At least once a week, more when I am bored, I will load up the “Interesting in the past 7 days” page, marking photos I like as ‘favourites‘, downloading some for desktops, then hitting refresh to get the next batch of great images.
It is this ability to ‘favourite’ images that sold me on Flickr. For the longest time I would see images I liked, then resign myself to never be able to find them again (the option of physically bookmarking them just seemed impractical). Then I discovered that if I clicked the little star at the top left of a photo I liked, Flickr would bookmark it for me and I would always be able to find it. Sweet!
It’s also Flickr I have to thank for some truly awesome desktop images – I have about 200 images the Mac rotates through on a daily basis, supplying me with two amazing new desktops each time I start up the computer. A good 70% of these have come from Flickr (the rest are film stills, promo images, and pictures I’ve taken). For those worried about copyright etc, Flickr lets you chose if people can download your images or not, and also lets you set a creative commons license. It’s never going to stop evil people reposting work as their own if they are really desperate too, but a community is all about sharing. And there has been at least once case I’m aware of where mainstream media used a picture off Flickr without permission or attribution to the photographer, and he won his copyright case (I wish I could remember where that link disappeared to :/).
I can think of one other service that’s building itself up to directly take on Flickr (Zooomr, but I can’t tell you more about that because it’s down at the moment due to a DOS attack and upgrade issues. I’ve heard some people praise Zooomr, some people who aren’t such fans. Google, of course, has it’s own attempt, but that doesn’t work with Macs, so 😛 to them.
As I said, I like Flickr, and it’s gonna take a pretty impressive service to make me want to switch. It’s definitely one case where the total is greater than the sum of all its parts – it’s simple and does what it does brilliantly. What more do you need?
Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to plug in the scanner, and make the most of all this new storage space I’ve just got 😀 So many pretty pictures!