Founded back in 2004, Flickr has changed owners several times through the years as the social media and photo-sharing landscape evolved. Here are 10 reasons why I believe Flickr is still the best site on the Web for photographers.
#1. Photo URLs
Each photo you upload gets its own unique URL page, chock full of information about the photo including all metadata embedded with your photo on upload. Also included are links to different size versions of your photos including your full high res original image. These unique url pages include tags and geo-locational data, and they elegantly showcase the photograph, including the ability to magnify the photo and look at details from this page.
#2. Unlimited Storage
Flickr allows unlimited storage. You will never run out of space or be charged more money as your photo library grows.
#3. Ad Free
Flickr offers an ad-free browsing experience for both you as well as any visitors to your photos/stream.
#4. Open API
Flickr has an open API that allows developers to develop functionality on top of the site. I’m able to use SuprSetr to organize all of my photos by keywords into albums automatically. At present, I have almost 5,000 albums. SuprSetr makes managing them a breeze.
#5. Social Metadata
Flickr allows others the ability to interact with your photos generating rich new information that I call “social metadata” around photos.
I upload found vernacular photographs and a robust community frequently is able to identify locations and even families and people in my collections and share this information with me and others on the photo’s page.
#6. Good Owners
Flickr is run and managed by the MacAskills, who also own SmugMug. Don and Ben MacAskill are trusted friends of photographers who have decades of experience managing online photo websites and communities. They have a deep respect for photography and photographers and have expressed a desire to help preserve the Flickr archive as long as possible into the future. They recently helped establish the @flickrfoundation which is focusing on preserving important work for all time. They are thoughtful, good, decent people who you can trust with your photos.
#7. Flexible Licenses
Flickr allows a variety of licenses for you to use with your photos. You can use the default “all rights reserved” license if you want or you can use a variety of Creative Commons licenses which allow more generous ways for you to share your photos with the world if you so choose. I personally use Creative Commons Non-Commercial for my photos.
#8. Wonderful Community
There is a wonderful community of photographers at Flickr. Perhaps not as robust as it was in years past, Flickr still has a wonderful group of photographers that I interact with daily. I have met many of my best friends over the years first on Flickr. Flickr is a very social place where you can get to know other people and photographers and engage and interact and make lots of interesting new friends who share a love of photography both through their individual photo pages and Flickr groups.
Flickr has been around for over 19 years. It will celebrate its 20th birthday next year. They are the OG photo-sharing site. Other sites have come and gone but Flickr persists. This also means that Flickr is one of the most important highly organized searchable databases of photographs in the world having been a place where photos have lived for that long. It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of this large body of work for humankind. It’s an amazing collection of some of the most important images in the world.
#10. Profile Pages
Flickr offers each user their own profile page. This page includes photos you choose to highlight as well as your most favorited photos on Flickr. It’s a great place for other photographers and people to learn more about you.
While Flickr is a paid service (good things are worth paying for) it does also offer a free version which allows you to try the service out with up to 1,000 photos. It has a mobile app as well but I prefer the web experience myself and that’s how I use it mostly.
Bonus: Fantastic Support
The support on Flickr is first-rate. Not only do they have a help forum where users can help each other and where staff can assist as well, but you can also reach out directly when needed. The support team is friendly, professional, helpful, and knowledgeable.
About the author: Thomas Hawk is a photographer and blogger based in San Francisco. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Visit his website here and his Flickr photostream here.