The return of Flickr?

In what seems to be good news for Flickr users, Smugmug are reported to have bought the venerable photo sharing platform.

A brief trawl through the internet reveals mixed fortunes in the story of this web institution. In recent years Flickr has been abandoned by some enthusiasts in favour of platforms like 500px or simply outshone by the rise of Instagram. But it’s still here and hopefully Flickr is about to see some new life.

I have used Flickr for a while but there have been seasons where I’ve focussed elsewhere. On a recent return to the iOS app, I found that finally the communities chat from groups is now easily viewed. The communities discussion is for me a top feature and previously was not viewable in the app. Another addition to the app is the ability to post an image in multiple groups simultaneously. I have no idea why this was not possible before.

Those user friendly changes were made while owned by Verizon and hopefully things will keep getting better. But what features would you want in a redeveloped Flickr?

Personally I’d prefer them not to continue to compete with Instagram. But that’s a huge challenge. How do you make a successful photo-sharing service without competing with other market leaders? I like Instagram but for me competing with them is a race to the bottom. A race to appeal by encouraging phone photography, filters, adverts and product placement.

The things I like about Flickr are also the most infuriating and least widely appealing. For example, I want to know about exif details; camera and settings etc. Flickr encourages such sharing. Instagram is not interested. They do not make such data public and may well remove them from the image.

This all probably makes Flickr more geeky and a little more elitist. Instagram, in contrast, has always been more encouraging, less critical and more vibrant. Yet, it is to Flickr not instagram I would turn for advice about photography. And it’s also usually Flickr I use to investigate a future holiday destination. Because on Flickr you’ll generally see fewer products and selfies and more actual landscapes.

I don’t envy Smugmug this challenge of making Flickr viable, appealing yet distinct and niche. But I do look forward to what they come up with.

Grumpiness & Serendipity

Today I was tired and grumpy shooting, which is a poor combination. I find it hard to be inspired when I’d be better catching up on sleep. 

Despite being in Edinburgh during the Festival I found it hard to see good images. And then to top it off, someone moaned at me for taking their picture. It wasn’t an aggressive response or even anxiety about the camera, it was simply a “it would be nice to be asked”. 

At this point I should have remembered Erik Kim’s advice to smile (harness-fear-become-confident-street-photographer/) and say thank you. Or in retrospect I could have explained that to ask for a posed shot would have changed the whole genre of the image and some street photography purist Flickr groups would reject it. 

But instead I replied that I didn’t think I needed to ask permission, I was sorry for any offence and I’d  happily delete the image; which I did.  I explained why I was taking the shot, because I thought he and his colleague looked interesting. Perhaps he’d had a bad day too because he ended up saying it was fine.

I continued down the street and took some more shots. Like this one.  


And then something weird but cool happened. I stopped to listen to a brilliant guitarist. There was a large crowd and eventually I turned to see that the guy next to me was someone I’d taken a picture of the day before 40 miles away in Perth.  Considering Edinburgh swells to over a million people during the Festival, it seemed a pretty incredible coincidence.

I decided to introduce myself and found that there was a language barrier. But he was pretty amused when I showed him the shot on Flickr. 


So all in all a good day!