Why did I choose Flickr?

Flickr Logo

Flickr is an image and video hosting website and actually is one of the best and most visited sites for this purpose. By the way, many photographers asked me sometimes why I chose Flickr. The main complains from non Flickr users that I heard were:

  1. The interface is ugly
  2. It’s hard to browse
  3. It’s not intuitive
  4. I cannot create my own template
  5. The design does not match my own style

Well I don’t agree with those assumptions, so instead to reply individually, let’s do it in this post.

Flickr is more than an online album or a hosting website for image and video. Flickr is the online Swiss knife for a photographer. It’s a tool that has the flexibility to adapt and help to promote and make a great diffusion of our photography work.

The interface is ugly? Well, what is ugly? It’s a personal and subjective impression. Maybe for some people it is ugly and for others it doesn’t. What about Google for example. Do you think that Google design is elaborate? It has the same design as 10 years ago! But it’s the best search engine out there and because it’s fast and useful it becomes a good tool.
Well for Flickr it is the same. It’s a powerful tool.

It’s hard to browse. It has a complete set of options for search. You can perform search by licenses, cameras, tags, people, titles, groups and so forth. Is it hard? It depends, if you just want to perform a simple search, go to Google and search for an image. Flickr can do sharp searches inside its database. In fact it’s used by many publishers to find great photos. Thanks to it’s powerful search options some publishers got in contact with me to buy full resolution pictures, for example here, here, and here

It’s not intuitive. To make something powerful you cannot make it stupid. Usability forces the user and the designer to reach a point of balance to keep the interface useful and easy. Flickr has a good balance, it’s useful for professionals and it is still easy to use for people that just wants to see pictures. Look at Flickr interface for a minute and please “read” the links in there. You can find a full set of options. There is also a slide show button that lets you see the pictures in a more fancy way.

I cannot create my own template. Please! Flickr is not a myspace-like site. It’s an online photo and video hosting service. It’s the visual-data-base of your photography life. Flickr provides more flexibility than just allowing users to create a simple template.
Flickr has an API that allows third party applications to make use of all its capabilities. There are hundred of applications making use of its API to present your photography in the way you desire.
For example:

  1. Moo cards. Cheap and good quality business and personal cards totally customizable. Just link your Flickr account and feed moo with your photographs.
  2. phpFlickr it is a class written in PHP by Dan Coulter you can use this class to create custom websites using the pictures in your Flickr account.
  3. Many plugins for wordpress, check this list
  4. And hundred of more applications out there, check this huge list

So you can create your own template to show your work stored in Flickr, using it not only as a storage system. Look at it as an interactive database of your visual work. Your own rules, your own design and an interface to interact with your content. Is that not enough?

The design does not match with my own style. Do you want to use Flickr as your own portfolio? And it doesn’t match with the design that represents your style? As in the previous point, think about it as a tool that, among many other things, includes also a web interface. It’s a tool, and as a tool the aim of it is to be used as a tool. Create your site, design it and use Flickr as your own database.

The final and more important characteristic of Flickr is the social aspect. Creating a photo and video hosting service with an indexed database and a search system build on it, is nothing far away from what we can find out there in other services. But creating a video and image hosting service that is also social, is a challenge and Flickr accomplishes that.
It helped me a lot to find people with amazing and inspiring work. It also helped me a lot to put me in contact with many photographers around the world and near my city. It has all the social tools to fit perfectly in a Web2.0 experience.

The social aspect of Flickr is the most important thing of it. If people don’t see your pictures, it’s the same that your pictures do not exist. Art made by humans will feed human minds. Social means people, people means eyes and minds that see what another mind saw through a lens. The feelings, sensations and messages hidden in any pictures can only by understood and transmitted if the public have access to them.

Where do you upload your pictures?
Why do you prefer a different platform?
What is the thing you really hate of Flickr?