On Flickr and Instagram

Shawn Blanc, earlier this afternoon:

“At the end of the day, Flickr is the only place I’ve got to put my best photographic work. And as much as I love the service, it’s just not cutting itit doesn’t feel like the right place for my best photographic work. And I suspect I’m not alone.”

I've been thinking about this a bit myself, lately. For a while, I was excited to see that Flickr seemed to be making a comeback, and I started using the service a lot more than I ever had prior to 6 months ago.

Unfortunately, it looks like the majority of the web hasn't agreed with me. I have a few Flickr contacts who upload consistently, but nowhere near the levels of uploads I see from my Instagram friends every day. And as Shawn has noticed, there's a lot less engagement happening on Flickr than I would like.

My theory for this is two-fold:

  1. Many people see Flickr as the product of a bygone era. To them, it had its heyday in the mid-2000s and can't recapture that magic now that Instagram is so deeply embedded in our culture. Or, if they're young enough, they may not have ever used Flickr in the first place.

    To put it more bluntly: Flickr is for the old guard, Instagram is for the new generation.

  2. Instagram has made the experience of browsing/uploading/commenting on photos so simple that even my mom can do it, and she doesn't even understand iOS App Store updates.

    To me, Flickr's iPhone app is relatively straightforward considering the advanced features it allows, but there's no denying that it conveys a certain "pro photographer" vibe that could be offputting to newbies.

Now, my photo uploading habits are a bit different from Shawn's. I keep my photos in several places, for different reasons.

Flickr: I dump pretty much all of my photos here, good or bad. I think of Flickr as a kind of archive for everything I shoot, and the ability to organize everything into sets is awesome. If I think something really isn't worth public scrutiny or I'd rather not have anyone see it, I just mark that set as private. Boom.

500px: This is where I post only (what I consider to be) my best work, no matter what camera it originated from. If I wanted to show someone the cream of the crop, I'd just point them to my 500px page. I don't worry too much about sets or whatnot here.

Instagram: Actually, my "workflow" here is similar to Shawn's except I add the extra step of exporting from VSCO back to my camera roll before uploading to Instagram, because sharing to Instagram straight from VSCO doesn't allow you to adjust the image crop. Like with 500px, everything I put on Instagram is what I consider some of my better work, with the exception of any DSLR shots.

VSCO Grid: Just today, I received my invitation to create a VSCO Grid, which is essentially VSCO Cam's own photo-sharing service. I've already uploaded all my best VSCO shots there, and I may play around some more with it, but I do like the way it looks so far.

Of these, I still think Flickr is the overall ideal place to host photos, just because it's an easy way to upload my DSLR and iPhone shots together, but I have to agree with Shawn about one thing — the community just isn't there right now.