Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons – This photo made Flickr’s Explore

I’ve been using Flickr since July 2007. I originally started using it to post pics of events I was covering such as the first iPhone Dev Conference or the launch of the iMac. Later I started using it to share some of my other photos. Since I have my own websites, I post pictures there every day.

Since I have made my living selling pictures, I never relied much on Flickr or any online service since posting online means certain Copyright infringement. I stopped posting online except at my blog for almost a year due to the uneducated, uninformed idiotswho  tell me “Don’t post if you don’t want it stolen.” Since I am not the “Jackass Whisperer” I gave up on trying to explain to these people why their position was wrong.

But then social photography took off and I realized that I needed to post at least a few of my images online in places other than my blogs. I noticed that lots of photographers don’t seem to use Flickr as much as they used to. So I tested lots of services. I have used or tried most services but keep coming back to Flickr for the following reasons.

1. It’s free for up to 200 images. If you want to pay it’s cheap. At under $2 a month, the price is more than fair for what they call a “pro” account.

(here is a rundown of the Pro account benefits. )
• Unlimited photo uploads (50MB per photo)
• Unlimited video uploads (90 seconds max, 500MB per video)
• The ability to show HD Video
• Unlimited storage
• Unlimited bandwidth
• Archiving of high-resolution original images
• The ability to replace a photo
• Post any of your photos or videos in up to 60 group pools
• View count and referrer statistics
• Limitation of maximum image size available to others
• Ad-free browsing and sharing

2. It’s easy. The UI is as good as any I’ve encountered. It’s easy to post, edit, organize, group and display images.
3. Yahoo groups were around for a long, long time before Google+ started “communities.’”
4. Yahoo’s service is reliable. It doesn’t go down very often and when it does it’s usually for a short time.
5. It’s tied in to the Yahoo search engine which means that lots of people end up seeing the pictures that they would’t see if  the pics were posted on another site.
6. It has turned out to be a great place to interact with contacts, get inspiration, exposure and information.
7. Flickr groups RSS feeds are a great idea.
8. Flickr offers decent stats so if you care about how many times your image has been seen, etc. you can easily find out.
9. (The newest reason) Flickr has a very good iPhone App (one assumes this will be ported to Android soon as well.) And with that app you can do pretty much anything you might need to.
10. Flickr offers ways to customize the look of your site.
11. Flickr mail offers a way to stay in touch with your fans outside of having a dedicated email account.
12. Flickr just announced free Pro accounts for everyone (three free months and if you’re already a Pro account owner they extended it for three months free of charge.)
13. Flickr’s API has been widely adopted making it easy to move photos from your favorite photo applications to Flickr.
14. Flickr’s TERMS of SERVICE document isn’t a rights grab.

While there was a period where Flickr just seemed to languish, without many new features, etc., Yahoo now seems to be paying real attention to it. For that reason, it’s my favorite non-commercial photo sharing site. But I do agree it’s not for everyone…

a. Even though Flickr sells what they call a “pro account,” it really isn’t for pros. If you want to create custom galleries for clients and sell/fulfill online you need a service like Shootproof.com.
b. The downsides of Flickr? At times, its management has been a bit draconian in enforcing its community standards. And those standards have been enforced unevenly. (I think this has been blown way out of proportion by the entitlement generation and a certain stock broker who has a well-known love/hate relationship with the site. But the issue does have some merit.)
c. The comments on Flickr photos are rarely as sane, well-meaning, helpful, relevant, etc. as they are on Google+ for instance. Flickr seems to be inhabited by 20 year olds who live in their mom’s basement where unsurprisingly, they are 13-feet tall and bad to the bone. So they trash people without reservation. I’ve solved this problem by simply blocking them when I encounter them.
d. ANY site – Flickr, Instagram, Facebook for that matter could eventually go away and take your photos with it. To that I say if you have all your eggs in one basket you should really get a clue and learn about backup.

In my opinion, the good at Flickr outweighs the bad and is worth a look for those of you looking for a non-commercial solution.

I plan to spend more time on Flickr in 2013, really trying to take advantage of all its features, and while I’ll continue to show images on my blogs like scottbourne.com and Photofocus.com, you’ll see me posting more images to Flickr.

P.S. If you want to follow my photo stream on Flickr it’s here.

If you want to join the free Photofocus/Flickr Group you can do that here.

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