Why I am still using Flickr and struggling to leave it

Dec 21, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Why I am still using Flickr and struggling to leave it

Dec 21, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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For the past couple of months, there’s been a thought in the back of my head: “I should leave Flickr and move somewhere else.” The platform is changing and not in the direction I like. I have, then, become more active on the other photo sharing websites I use and I created accounts on a couple of new ones to try them out. I’m exploring my options. The result: I still have and actively use the Flickr account I’ve had since 2009.

Thinking about moving somewhere else is one thing. But as it turns out, actually doing it is much, much harder for me. It got me thinking why I so desperately cling to Flickr and what it is that makes all other platforms just “not good enough.”

It’s widely felt that Flickr is probably not in good hands. Despite previous attempts to “make Flickr awesome again,” it’s noticeable that this photo sharing community is simply not what it used to be. I noticed it even before I started following the news about it, simply as a user who’s been there for ages. I started thinking about the alternatives: and I still haven’t found one.

What I’d like to share with you are my own reasons for staying on Flickr as well as some of my thoughts about other photo sharing websites. None of this is fact, just my own thoughts and opinions. And I’d love to know what you think, too.

What’s wrong with Flickr?

Flickr is not what it used to be. First of all, its current layout creates an endless and crammed stream of photos. It almost forces you to just scroll through them (and maybe hit “Like”) without leaving any feedback. My older photos would have received tons of comments, while the new ones, even when they end up in Explore, mainly acquire “likes.” I miss the interaction I used to have with other users.

Second: it feels as if Flickr has become a place where people just dump holiday snaps and use it as a storage space. That’s fine by me: 1TB is quite a lot of space if you want to back-up your files online for free, or share photos with your family. But in addition to this, many great photographers I used to follow have left Flickr or are inactive. This combination of factors makes it harder to find photographers I’d like to follow among the people who just upload their snapshots to share with the family.

Finally, I get the impression that more and more people are using Flickr to upload and search for pornographic photos. I’m not a prude but I really don’t think Flickr is the place for that. I only have a few relatively provocative photos in my photostream but in the past year or two, these have managed to attract invitations to all kinds of groups I’d rather not talk about. Maybe it’s subjective but I’m sure there never used to be so many porn … enthusiasts on Flickr.

Why am I so attached to Flickr, then?

My photography beginnings are related to Flickr, and I owe a lot to its community and the interaction I had with its users. Back when I started sharing my work, the site’s layout was different. I think it was more inviting to leave actual feedback, instead of just scrolling and clicking “Like.”

When I first signed up, I realized that Flickr was very intuitive (at least for me). Also, the way of organizing photos worked for me perfectly, and it still does.

But, what really grew on me was the community. Comments from other users, contests, forums, tons of inspirational photos – these are all things that made me love Flickr. I think I learned a lot just from these interactions. And the best thing is – I made lots of friends there who became close friends in the real world.

A great photographer and a friend of mine, Milica Vujicic. One of many lovely people I’ve met thanks to Flickr

All that said, I think what keeps me so attached to Flickr is nostalgia. Although it’s not the network it used to be, I’ve been there for ages, I’ve lived through all its changes, I have met lots of people here… And I just find it hard to replace it with another network. I’m aware that’s pretty irrational, yet I can’t help it.

A great article from Daniela Bowker also mentions nostalgia as one of the reasons for still using Flickr, but there’s also inertia. Switching to another network would mean transferring hundreds, if not thousands of images somewhere else, plus naming, tagging and sorting them. It’s not among the main reasons I still haven’t found an alternative, but I realize that, for some people, it could be a major reason to stick with Flickr.

The alternatives

Despite my attachment to Flickr, realizing what I didn’t like about it started me thinking about alternatives. So far, though, I still haven’t found the right one for me.

Other than Flickr, I’ve also had an account on Behance and 1x for quite a while. I love both of them, but they don’t work for me like Flickr does. In search of my new favorite photo sharing website, I also signed up at 500px and EyeEm. And nope, it’s just not it. I’d like to tell you more about why I think so but please keep in mind these are just my impressions.

1x has some fantastic, inspiring and high-quality photos (although sometimes over-edited for my taste). The community is great and you can post your photos for critique if you want to hear constructive criticism. Paid users also have access to tutorials and some other benefits. I visit this site often to enjoy other users’ photos, but I’m not that active when it comes to posting. There are two reasons for this, kinda related to each other.

First, the number of uploads is limited to one photo a week for free users. If you want a Pro account, you need to pay from $6 to $10 a month. It’s not much, but I still choose to stay as a free user. Why? This leads us to the second reason for my low activity. The featured photographers on 1x are so out of my league that I think there’s just no point in my paying for Pro membership. I can’t compete with them. Put simply, maybe 1x is just too “serious” for my work and my needs. Although, of course, I keep visiting it and feeding my eyes with splendid photos.

I like Behance too, and I like how it lets you organize your photos. However, it has a different purpose to Flickr and I use it to display specific sets of my work, both personal projects and paid photo shoots. What I dislike about Behance is the community, because most of the comments come down to users linking to their own profile under your sets with a note reading something like “check out my work.” I don’t get that approach and I never will.

I also have a 500px account. Frankly, I couldn’t tell you specifically what’s wrong with it: I simply don’t like it. I remember reading a comment that said 500px involves a lot of skill, but little creativity. This is how I feel about it, generally speaking. I also find its chaotic layout difficult to navigate which means I have not explored it a great deal. Maybe it would grow on me with time, I don’t know.

My most recent attempt to switch from Flickr is EyeEm. It’s super-intuitive and its automatic tagging system is fast and highly accurate. There are contests, a weekly selection of the best photos, and you can even gain some passive income from selling your photos. Still, I miss adding photos to groups and arranging them into albums. I also noticed that lots of users post literally everything they snap to EyeEm, without any selection. This makes it hard to filter out photographers I’d actually like to follow.

The last option is Instagram. Although it’s mainly a social network, many photographers use it to display their work and reach a wide audience. I use it too, but for a different purpose. I use a locked account as a visual diary and a reminder of when events have happened. I also follow a couple of friends and photographers. Occasionally I think about opening an account for my photographic work but then I remember all the stories about images stolen from Instagram and I give up on the idea. Sure, photos can be stolen from anywhere but I think it happens most often on Instagram, and I think that’s most likely because of its popularity.

Now what?

After trying out some alternatives, I’m still using Flickr. Yet, it’s only “the old days” that keep me so attached to it. I wouldn’t like to say goodbye to it forever but I’d sure love to find a network that has it all for an “enthusiastic amateur” like me.

Since I’m apparently still running in circles, I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Are you still using Flickr and what keeps you attached to it? Or if you’ve left it, which platform are you using now and what do you like about it?

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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48 responses to “Why I am still using Flickr and struggling to leave it”

  1. Ian Brace Avatar
    Ian Brace

    I use Flickr and 500px but most others just seem messy and all over the place.

  2. Ryan Brutt Avatar
    Ryan Brutt

    I still use it.

  3. Tj Ó Seamállaigh Avatar
    Tj Ó Seamállaigh

    I still use flickr and I’ve stopped my annual subscription – I use now mainly as an archive to search my photos and albums then look them up according to date and other criteria in my HDs.

  4. Silvester Cromos Avatar
    Silvester Cromos

    I still use Flickr but the porn spam is becoming a huge problem so I’m on the verge of closing my account.

    Only reason I’m still there is because of the controls Flickr has for sharing and organizing my photos. For example if I delete a photo flickr kills the link to that photo across all platforms I shared the photo to.

    I can also create and share specific albums and control who can see photos within that album.

  5. Russ Morris Avatar
    Russ Morris

    On Flickr since August 2004! 2.6K Followers, 1.7K Following. https://www.flickr.com/photos/russmorris

    I still participate in a number of flickr groups, admin a few, and like the way it works. I also have an IG account, Tumblr, 500px, WP, and G+. There are good features with each, but Flickr still is the best, IMHO.

  6. Stephen Masiello Avatar
    Stephen Masiello

    Flickr became overrun by bad snapshots from amateurs with phones. I love 500px which said “only post your best” when I signed up, but it seems the clueless masses are seeping in there as well. Hard to find quality on any free sites these days.

    1. Dunja0712 Avatar

      True. That’s why I often visit 1x. But since I also curate the images there from time to time, I get to see that people upload phone snapshots there as well. :) Only they never get published, 1x is very selective.

  7. Paul Abrahams Avatar
    Paul Abrahams

    I’ve had an account since 2009, not really a photographer. Find it difficult to interact with it. 11 followers – following 15. Initially used it to dump some photos from a festival but recently started being selective. But I agree there’s less inclination to comment and I feel more isolated on there. I follow very few account so no porn

  8. Kryn Sporry Avatar
    Kryn Sporry

    I’m not aware of alternatives to be honest. 500px doesn’t give the capability as Flickr for unpaid accounts.

  9. Pavlos Pavlidis Avatar
    Pavlos Pavlidis

    I would if I could access my Yahoo account.

  10. Phillip C Reed Avatar
    Phillip C Reed

    I still use Flickr, since it gives me a way to distribute photos to a large audience without requiring them to be a member to view, and also allows for distribution of high-resolution images. None of the other sites give me that particular combination. If I have to leave Flickr, I’ll probably build myself a gallery site on WordPress.

  11. Renato Murakami Avatar
    Renato Murakami

    I “use it”, for the same reason I use other cloud storage services: backup of the backup of the backup. xD
    And there are basically no alternatives to free 1Tb of unadulterated goodness.

    Gotta give Flickr credit where it’s due – despite all the crap that happened on the parent company and whatnot, they didn’t cut what is probably a huge cost of maintenance and upkeep, which is Flickr. Kind of a miracle I guess. Probably because it works kinda independently… it should just get itself out of Yahoo/Oath/Verizon and go independent… though that’s probably not a possibility.

    Honestly, I don’t know why, but I imagine that if it was any other big corporation including Microsoft, Google or Facebook, it would’ve been long gone. These companies have cut services with way flimsier justifications other than “our brand is in the trashcan, the company is being stripped off it’s assets to keep afloat, better shut everything down”. :P I was honestly expecting Flickr to shut down when the first news of Yahoo breach came up. Yahoo could probably survive somehow, but Flickr was already pretty unpopular… so I dunno what held it up.

    Microsoft did some back and forth regarding their plans on OneDrive, which made me remove most of the content from there. I also use Google Photos, but you know… they compress images, and the company has flip flopped on a whole ton of recent services. Facebook spun out the photo service out of the main app/service (plus a bunch of other stuff like messaging), which pissed me off a whole ton and made me also stop using it.

    But I’m not putting anything new on Flickr anymore, and I have already downloaded everything… going local. Because cloud storage can’t be trusted.

    Then again, I’m not a photographer myself… just garbage stuff, family photos, whatever I had lying around. So I guess I never really saw Flickr as a social network per se. And I’m still out of photography centered social networks like Instagram and others. So my pov is completely different from photographers.

  12. Anthony Kerstens Avatar
    Anthony Kerstens

    Flickr has the best film discussion group (and its scanning offshoot) (https://www.flickr.com/groups/ishootfilm/). I originally started on Flickr because the discussion forums was actually easier to use and read, and great knowledgeable people frequented it (and still do). Never really got into sharing my photos online except for particular discussion points.

    The one thing however that bothers me is the frequent spamming by porn. I often have my profile followed or my photos faved by a user with a scant profile linking to a porn site and nothing but a hand full of nudes (or worse) in their stream.

    For me, Flickr is like Playboy, “I read it for the articles”. :)

    1. Marc W. Avatar
      Marc W.

      Hi fellow ISF member. I too love Flickr as it has one of the best film photography community. Facebook is also a contender in terms of socializing with other film photographers.

  13. Aaron Aldrich Avatar
    Aaron Aldrich

    I use flickr, as well as 500px and 1x. Flickr works the best for me as it is easy to navigate, maintains high-resolution, has a pretty good community, and is easy to access for non-members.

    1. Rikki Avatar

      I think – I don’t know if it’s still true – with Flickr YOU own the photos. That was the reason I stayed with them before, vs other social media sites that say they can use your photos for whatever purpose.

  14. Bruce Dean Avatar
    Bruce Dean

    There is another alternative that I don’t believe that you have listed in your article. Ipernity.com

    It provides a great community, built in translation, photo security and many other features.

    1. Dunja0712 Avatar

      I didn’t even know about it, that’s why it wasn’t listed. I only listed those I’ve tried.
      I’m going to check it out, thanks!

  15. lewisfrancis Avatar

    Love Flickr still, had no idea what the author was talking about with the porn thing until reading the comments — I have received one porn spam recently, the first (I’ve had tons on Instagram), and hopefully Flickr will nip this new development in the bud.

  16. Rikki Avatar

    The straw that broke the camels back for me was the horrible, horrible app. I can’t even figure out how to edit my own captions! (That’s just ONE of the problems) Also they cut off the RSS feed which I was using a lot. Suddenly photos weren’t loading on my own website (which still drives traffic back to Flickr anyway).

  17. toxicbutterfly74 Avatar

    I definitely still love Flickr. The idea that it will eventually close sends me into a panic! I used to be a huge fan of the community aspect there as well. I definitely miss those days. However, as many have said before, the ability to share with non-members, the lack of compression, and the amount of storage you get for free…there’s just no denying it. Flickr is still a powerhouse. It would be wonderful to have the community aspect back, but I will take what I can get. :)

    1. Dunja0712 Avatar

      “The idea that it will eventually close sends me into a panic!” – I can totally relate. :)
      Yeah, I still love it too, despite the downsides. If nothing else, I still find it better for my needs than the other websites I’ve tried.

  18. Patrick Mayon Avatar
    Patrick Mayon

    Nowadays I mainly post my photos on Instagram – I neglect Flickr or Google+.

  19. Tony Wood Avatar
    Tony Wood

    I’ve been on Flickr for 10 years and have found nothing as developed and versatile on the web. Flickr has created the ability to have your own groups, join groups of ANY type of photography, arrange your images in albums and interact with people from around the world. There innumerable numbers of excellent shooters. I’m having lots of interaction with folks, more that any other site I’m on.

    The only other site that has impressed me is http://www.artlimited.net

  20. Cheryl Avatar

    There are quite a few features I like about Flickr. I have the ability to easily upload the best 10% of my shots from a hike, a camping trip, a vacation, a day at the beach etc. I can organize into albums and tag the photos however I like. I can easily share the album with anyone and I can even embed the photos elsewhere (blog, forum, etc.). If I’m away from my home computer (where the original photos live) I can easily figure out what day I went somewhere by doing a quick search on Flickr. There are no limits to how many I upload or what size they are. I haven’t found another photo site that does all of the above (at least not for free, anyway). Even if I did and made the switch I’d have to start over from scratch because there is currently no way to export photos with all their tags and descriptions from Flickr. I’m afraid Flickr will go the route that Photobucket did and all of the sudden start charging users to utilize all features.

  21. Travis Pond Avatar
    Travis Pond

    I have gone through almost the same process with giving up Flickr (still haven’t said goodbye yet) and I’ve settled on SmugMug. While there isn’t much community involved, the app is great for sharing your photos to multiple other services like FB and insta at the same time. The web design is intuitive and looks nice, and is somewhat customizable. I appreciate that one can choose a variety of ways for others to access your photos and it has some nice tools to restrict downloading. I use it all the time to share sets with people and it has been a hit so far!

  22. Fabio Keiner Avatar
    Fabio Keiner

    also still – and again after a year-long hiatus on flickr. .))
    flickr is not so bad as you paint it, the downturn started way time ago… even before being sold to yahoo.
    if anybody interested in a really small, but good italian photo-site: http://www.micromosso.com (they do understand english as well, btw:))

  23. TheOven Avatar

    So, this post is getting dated (I just found it dec 2018) and Flickr is now owned by SmugMug. I’m considering leaving because the price is going up and there’s very little one gets for the increase in price.

    Any other new photo sites that have risen in the past year to be fairly decent? Any thoughts on the newest version of Flickr?