why flickr is still the photo king

flickr love

I’ve read a few interesting articles over the past couple of months about how the future of photo sharing is Facebook. That may very well be the case but i’m not so optimistic about Facebook’s future as the home of photos online…

As a Flickr pro user with over 3,000 photos to my name, i know my way around it pretty well. That also makes me extremely biased of course but i like to think i can at least justify my reasons for staying loyal to a service i’m paying for.

In a nutshell, right this second i know that i can benefit more from using Flickr than facebook to store my photos. Go on to my facebook profile and you’ll notice i very rarely upload any photos there. I’ve got a grand total of 12 up there. So why is that?

Facebook is private

I’m different to most in that i have my own blog / website so i’m not an ‘average’ user. However if i were to upload everything to my facebook as opposed to flickr i’d lose traffic instantly. My photos would be seen by fewer people, and i’d lose a small amount of traffic to this blog. That’s because you can’t search for facebook photos the same way you can search for flickr photos.

Day 102 - iPad App Teaser
Creative Commons License photo credit: Chad Podoski

It’s awkward and clumsy trying to find images on Facebook. Sure i can see photos of my friends and profile photos of people but sometimes i don’t want that. It’s nice to be able to search for ‘flowers’ and get thousands of photos containing flowers. Or it’s also nice to be able to search through creative commons photos which allows me to put them on a website without having to worry about breaking copyright laws.

Before anyone says it, i know there are certain apps and certain methods of search for photos on Facebook, but by default, Facebook + photos don’t mix well. It’s an area i feel could be greatly improved. Perhaps Facebook could just buy Flickr and do us all a favour 🙂

Creative Commons

This, boys and girls, is the reason why i can claim to have had my work featured on some pretty big sites including;

  • guardian.co.uk
  • mashable.com
  • lifehacker.com
  • theweek.com
  • euranet.eu
  • bnet.com
  • tested.com

And they’re just the tip of the iceberg too. I’ve noticed more and more sites using my photos recently as i begin to upload more and describe them properly. Would all of those sites have used my photos had i uploaded them to Facebook? No.

At the end of the day, photos are taken to be shared with others. Just like diaries. Argue all you want about that, but if people were so protective of their thoughts and ideas they would never write them down or talk to anyone about them. I don’t care who sees my photos or who does not, it makes absolutely no difference to me. I don’t care who republishes them either or features them. If nobody does that, fine… if only one person finds a use for a photo i’ve taken, then great – i’ve just helped someone by doing nothing 🙂

The net result, at least in my case, is that i can name drop all of the above sites and more. I don’t get paid but i ‘earn’ credibility over time which a lot of people can only dream about. So that’s what’s in it for me but i’m just be happy to see my work being used by others, i never get sick of browsing the web and accidentally stumbling across my own 🙂

API

Let’s take a big city. In order to grow and to provide convenient access for employees & tourists what do all big cities need? A transport system. Airports, buses, trains, trams, metros, segways, helicopters, boats, bikes… you name it, i want it. All hooked up together too.

Winter night - Queensboro Bridge
Creative Commons License photo credit: joiseyshowaa

Dublin is an example of a city i would hate to visit. I hate getting buses you see so if an airport doesn’t have a train service, that’s a major black mark against it in my eyes. So i’d probably never visit Dublin if i weren’t Irish because i’d need to get buses everywhere.

Anyway, a good API is like a good transport system. An API is just an easy way for programmers to access a web service like Flickr and do all sorts of fancy stuff. The Flickr API is regarded as one of the best around and that means there are loads of nice little applications and plugins available. I use a Flickr plugin on this blog for example. I also use Bulkr to backup my flickr account every now and then just in case Flickr accidentally delete my account.

Everything will go social, no doubt about it (or at least become more social) but that doesn’t mean everything will get swallowed up by Facebook. Right now, Facebook’s photo service is a plastic toy version of Flickr and has a lot of growing up to do before it can prise people like me away from Flickr.

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