Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Flickr: Pros and Cons for Photographers

In my last post, I wrote about the pros and cons of using Facebook for photo sharing. Today, I am going to look at the pros and cons of another very popular photo sharing site – Flickr.

Flickr is aimed specifically at photographers, which means that the sole purpose of the site is for photo sharing. What is awesome about this is that it provides you with a network of photographers, all sharing their own work. This means that you have a website filled with photographers of varying levels with different amounts of experience and worldly knowledge. You will find beginners, amateurs, pros and everything in between. You will have the opportunity to have your work perused by the best and receive compliments and constructive criticism on your work. What an awesome opportunity as a photographer! In addition, Flickr tends to maintain the quality of photographs better than Facebook does. With Flickr, you have always been able to choose what quality you want to upload your photographs with, even if it means that it will take longer and use more bandwidth.

Though Flickr does not provide pages as Facebook does, it provides other benefits that Facebook doesn’t offer. One can create sets, galleries and can share their photos in other groups’ sets and galleries. You can also choose to add more information about the photograph than Facebook offers. If you keep your EXIF data intact, you can choose to share it, which will share information about how and where the photograph was taken – which camera, shutter speed, aperture and ISO were used for example.

But now to the negatives, and there are always one or two of those. A big reason why Facebook is so popular is because it is a social networking site – you connect with friends, friends of friends, friends who used to be friends, people who like to think of themselves as friends, etc. With Flickr, it is difficult to find those friends. Because it is a photo sharing site, those joining in tend to be limited to photographers, and if you do not have a wide net of photographer friends already, it makes finding friends and people to comment and critique a little more difficult. You can, of course, still add photographs to groups and get critiques in that way, but it certainly leads to less exposure than you would have available to you with Facebook and some other social media sites.

The quality of the photographs may be better than Facebook, but the layout of the page is still very much social media-like, which tends to turn away a number of the professionals and also makes it a very informal setting for photographs. While this can benefit a photographer, particularly when starting out and looking for advice, it can also deter people from adding their photographs because the quality of the site seems to bring down the quality of your own photographs.

Another aspect that makes Flickr not so great are the pure number of photographs that come up. Every photographer must have their photographs up for the world to see, every photographer thinks they are the best, and a lot of photographers may try to put other people down to prove this. This has a number of repercussions. First of all, it can lead to your photographs being lost in the stream of things. Your photographs may be amazing, but they will be lost in amidst the okay, mediocre and downright bad. In addition, you may find that the criticism that your photographs receive amount to no more than trolling on the part of a photographer who thinks they are better than everyone else. You may find that the comments lack the constructive and just focus on the negative. You should be prepared for brutality. You are likely to find it at some point.

There are benefits of course to using a photo sharing site like Flickr, which is aimed at a specific photographic audience. But you should expect there to be downfalls too. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. It just means that you should be prepared.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget one of the most important differences between flickr and Facebook: Ownership rights.

    Anything you upload to Facebook belongs to Facebook.

    Flickr, on the other hand, lets you choose what kind of ownership rights you want - are you putting up free photos for anyone to use, or copyrighted photos that may not be used by anyone without your permission (and hopefully payment to you)? I think it's a pretty important thing for professional photographers to consider... :)