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.

Flickr Relaunches with 1TB of Free Space

Almost as if reading my mind after this morning's post, Yahoo! has relaunched Flickr with a new interface and 1TB of free storage for free users.

Pro accounts are being phased out, but existing Pro users get to keep their unlimited space, ad-free browsing, and statistics (for now). In place of Pro accounts, Flickr is now offering paid upgrades for either going ad-free ($50/year) or doubling your space to 2TB ($500/year).

The revamped UI takes cues from other social platforms like Twitter,, Facebook, Google+, and Path, in that it allows you to upload a cover photo and displays your profile in a similar manner to those services. It's not wholly original or anything but I think it looks great. At least it doesn't look like 2006 anymore.

Photo pages are also much nicer, with images displayed in full resolution and shoving all the related info (description, comments, etc) below. It gives the photos a chance to breathe, which I love.

I need more time to play with this new interface, but I'm already really liking it so far. Kudos to Marissa Mayer and the Flickr team for shipping such a fantastic update.

Here is my Flickr page if you'd like to check it out.

The Verge Interviews the Man Behind Flickr

Markus Spiering, Head of Product at Flickr:

“I can’t talk about the things that are coming up. But if you think 2012 was a big year, 2013 will be bigger.”

As I discussed not long ago, I'm excited that Flickr is making its way back into the web photography discussion, and it looks like Yahoo feels the same way now that Marissa Mayer has become CEO. I'm looking forward to what they've got in store.

'Long Live Flickr'

Jeffery Inscho on the new Flickr app:

"Feeling nostalgic for my glory days of the web, I downloaded the app to see what all the fuss was about. And the fuss, in my opinion, is justified. With one fell swoop, Flickr has injected itself back into the conversation of web relevance."

This is a perfect way of putting it. Flickr's diehard fans have long expressed worry that the service is waning and that Yahoo! hasn't paid enough attention to it even though it's likely their best product.

Now that Marissa Mayer is manning (womanning?) the helm, Flickr seems to be setting itself up for a resurgence. I'm still amazed at how good the new app is, and I've noticed a few subtle design changes taking place on itself. Despite following a large number of tech bloggers and photographers online, I have yet to see a negative statement about anything Flickr is doing right now.

It's pretty wild that a single app update on a phone can cause public opinion about an entire company to sway suddenly and drastically in the opposite direction. Any app developers out there not taking their work seriously would do well to consider that.

New Flickr App for iPhone

This morning saw an update to Flickr's maligned and oft-ignored iPhone app. Until today, it was basically usable for browsing photos and maybe uploading here and there, but the experience wasn't all that great. With this new update though, Flickr has decided to bring their 'A' game.

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Clearly the new UI has been inspired by Instagram, right down to the addition of photo filters. As popular as Instagram has become, I guess it was inevitable that Flickr would one day see them as a competitor.

While the old app was a big sluggish and weird, the new app is sleek, beautiful, and quick. Photos load nearly instantaneously, and scrolling through the gallery of recent uploads by my contacts has been a joy. The new photo filters aren't too bad either. This was my first test shot:


I only recently started getting back into Flickr after years of neglect, but it feels like I'm late to the party because I don't see as much activity going on around there as I used to. Of course, there are still a few remaining diehard fans who have poured years of their lives into the service, but the rest? Who knows.

Now, with this fantastic update, I can imagine lots of people returning to their Flickr roots and I'm honestly pretty excited about that. It's Yahoo's one killer service and I think it deserves a chance to stick around for a long time. It's certainly been the topic of discussion on my Twitter feed today, and I'm taking that as a good sign.

Either way, I'll certainly be spending even more time on the service.