Using a Ricoh GRD III and a Nikon DSLR to photograph streets, people, architecture and anything else that catches my eye.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Flickr.... hmmmm

I just wanted to write a few words about the mighty Flickr 'image hosting' website.  There is no doubt about it, Flickr is massive. I just did a little research, as to how many images are actually on Flickr. From what I have read, the number is somewhere between 5 to 6 billion.  Lets settle on 5.5 billion.


I have read that Flickr started life in 2004, and quickly evolved throughout 2005 and 2006, having been bought up by Yahoo, into the great site that it is now. I beleive that there maybe around 32 million user accounts (not necessarily all active); and another 'big number' fact is that around 5,000 images are uploaded every minute.  There is no doubt that it is a very polished website, providing a great service to photographers, either on a free account or with a very low cost charged account.

The search engine is quite powerful, providing anyone with a massive wealth of images to look through. The process of tagging images together with the image's exif info, allows an incredible method to find an image you are looking for. This, together with the idea of adding your images to specific 'groups', allows other people to discover your own works of art. Joining groups and adding contacts are common to how most 'social network' wbsites work nowadays, and Flickr has been doing this probably longer than most of them. This all sounds wonderful but I do have a few issues with Flickr.  

Many of the groups seem to be primarily there for people to award each other, and gain little awards for their images. For example, the 'Hearts Award' photo group (and there are many hearts groups) encourages people to typically add one image to the 'group pool', then 'award' three other images.  So it seems that people just collect lots of these little GIF image awards against their image, with little comments like 'wow' or 'cool shot'  etc.  There is often not much real critique going on here.  The problem is that these awards are actually totally meaningless.

Many of these groups have literally thousands of images. It would take forever to look through all these images. Lots of these images within these groups are only loosely linked to the group itself.  There are quite a few groups with just a few images, just because there maybe already many other groups which duplicate the chosen subject.  Group subject duplication is another annoying problem for me, with people just adding their picture of their pet dog to about twenty groups, without even looking at other images in those groups.

I don't want to sound too grouchy about Flickr, especially as I am a user myself, but I am very slowly losing interest with it as time goes by.  I feel that I am only using it as another place to store my images now.  It's just that within the last few months I have got more satisfaction from looking at other people's photo blogs, which are much more personal and tell more about the 'what' 'where' and 'why' of a particular image. People seem to pour more passion into a blog, and concentrate on posting just their favourite images, instead of uploading many at a time to Flickr, and flooding various 'please give me an award' groups. It takes a while to discover the blogs which are really worth following; but once found, much more can be learned from other people's work.

Having said all that...  Long live Flickr,  and Long live Blogger.


Anonymous said...

Good Post!
Have a great weekend :)

Gerry's Blog said...

Hey Bill, well said, I wish I had your way with words. I would write more on my blog =) I also love looking at blogs for the very same reason, I feel more connected with the photographer and I get to see what he picks as his favorite photo of the day. Keep up your blogging you are doing a great job.

Anonymous said...

Well said Bill. I much prefer photoblogs. I get a better idea of what the photographer is about. And I find that doing my own photoblog gets me out shooting so much more - there is a commitment to keep posting.