I love flickr! There are so many wonderful reasons to use flickr.com and very few drawbacks (which I will also address) and I thought it would be helpful to do a roundup of all the reasons that I use flickr and why I think you should also! I am in no way affiliated with flickr and I have not received any compensation or incentive to put together this post. I'm just sharing a great resource that has been useful to me. If you are not familiar with flickr, you may want to take a few minutes and go through the official flickr tour.
On with the list... (all images are clickable)
1. Store your photos in another location. If your house burns down, or your computer goes bye-bye, your photos will still be safe and easily accessible. I also back up my photos to DVD, but I feel better knowing that they are stored on flickr as well. There are limits to how many photos you can upload each month when you have a free account. There are no limits to how many you can upload with a pro account. I have a pro account. I currently have more than 12,700 photos on flickr and I wouldn't want to lose any of them. It's like having an enormous external hard drive full of photos that I can access from any computer with an Internet connection.
2. The full resolution size of your photo can be downloaded at any time. All you have to do is go to the photo on flickr and choose "all sizes" then select "download original size" and it is like you pulled the photo off of your hard drive or a cd. Perfect for when you are away from home or if you don't want to carry 12,700 photos with you at all times. I find it a lot easier to find one of my photos on flickr, then searching through years of archived photo files.
3. You can download other people's pictures or they can download yours using this same method, but ONLY if you want them to. You can control the privacy for each and every picture that you upload. Why would you want other people to be able to download your photos? What about Grandma? Or Aunt Katie? Instead of having to send cds/dvds of photos to them, they can simply go to your flickr photostream and get the photos that they want. You can do the same thing. Many of the pictures I upload are marked for family only because while most of the world might not be interested in them, my family sure is. This is a great way to distribute photos to others who attended a group event with you. No more burning discs for everyone.
4. Organize your photos. Flickr is a great way to keep your photos organized and easy to enjoy. When you upload your photos you can sort them into albums or sets. With a pro account there is no limit to the amount of sets you can create. There are limits with a free account. I keep my photos organized by year with an album for each calendar year. I also have sets for photo projects like mosaics, digital scrapbook pages, and themes. You can even keep the same photo in several different sets. Here's a link to see how I've organized my photo collection.
5. Tag your photos. This goes along with the organization idea, but also gives you an incredible tool for searching through your own photostream (also useful for searching through other people's photos). What does tagging mean? Flickr does a nice job of explaining it here. When I upload a photo I try to tag it with relevant information like year, location, names of people in the picture, etc. Then when I search my own photostream, it is so easy to find what I'm looking for. When I type the word "valentine" into the search box on my photostream all the photos that I've tagged with "valentine" show up.
6. Get feedback on your photos. If you mark your photographs viewable to the public then you might get some comments about them. This is useful for improving your photography skills because you will learn which kind of shots generate the most interest and compliments. You are more likely to get feedback on your pictures if you are leaving feedback for others or if you are members of groups. It gets even more fun when you win awards from other members, or when you are invited to post your photo in exclusive groups.
7. Create an idea file. When you mark a photo as a "favorite" you can always find it later on by going through your favorites folder. This is like having an idea book of inspiration available to you anytime you are online. I can spend hours browsing through photographs that I've marked as favorites!
8. One of the best things (and also the worst) about flickr is that you can enjoy other people's photographs. As I mentioned in #7, there is so much inspiration on flickr that you can fill your files and mind with wonderful ideas to inspire your own work. The down side is that you can end up seeing a lot of mediocre pictures, or even some downright offensive ones. I've been trying to get my Mom to use flickr for awhile now and wouldn't you know that the day she logged in she saw a picture of something very raunchy. Now this is strictly against the community guidelines but it doesn't mean that this never happens. There are precautions you can take though. Just like any site on the Internet, you have to be careful. Every photo has a place where you can flag the image as inappropriate or you can simply report a user or content to flickr. The site is also monitored quite well and flickr will shut down accounts that break the rules. You can also adjust the settings in your account to turn on safe search and to mark the content for your own photostream. Another way you can improve what you see when you log in to flickr is to join at least a few groups and mark a couple of contacts. Then the content they provide will show up on your home page instead of pictures from the general photostream.
9. Make contacts. Reach out to friends and family and connect with them on flickr. You can mark them to have special photo viewing privileges if you want to keep some or all of your photos private and you can see what they are uploading. (See #3) You can mark someone as a contact and they may not return the favor, there is no rule for reciprocation. This is nice to know if you want to follow the work of some well-known photographers. Go ahead and mark them as a contact and don't worry about whether or not they add you in return. The interesting thing is you can actually make friends through this tool on flickr. I had no idea that would occur when I first signed up, but I have made some great online friends from all over the world as a result of finding favorites, groups, and contacts on flickr. Here's a link to my current contact list.
10. Join groups. This really changed the flickr experience for me and gave me the feeling of being part of a community. Even if you aren't all that interested in the social media aspect of flickr, I would still suggest you join some groups as it gives your flickr membership a sense of direction. With more than 5,000 photos uploaded to flickr every second of the day, you couldn't possible hope to keep up with what flashes by on the screen. Being part of a few (or many) groups that match your own interests will make the site much more meaningful. Groups will also inspire you to try new things and help you see places and ideas that you might never run into any other way. When you add your own photos to a group, you become part of that community. If you aren't comfortable with sharing your own photos, you can at least enjoy the creativity of others by following a group's photo pool. The groups that I belong to have inspired me to take photographs that I never imagined on my own. I even run a group of my own called "Creative Spaces" where people post images of their studios, sewing rooms, craft cupboards, or anyplace they use to create.
11. Challenge yourself. Other photographers will give you ideas, groups will issue themes and challenges, images will inspire you. Act upon these and use them as motivation to find new ways to be creative. A contact of mine issued an "IRON CHEF" photography challenge and macro shot groups made me want to get up close and personal with my subject matter. Taking on these challenges helped me find new ways to expand my skills as a photographer.
12. Flickr provides a super fast and easy way to add pictures to your blog. Did you know that that all you need to do is add your blog information to your flickr account and you can actually create and publish blog entries right from a flickr photo page? This is especially useful if you want to use someone else's photo or a mosaic because you will automatically have the credits included with the post. (more on mosaics and using other people's photos in a minute). Just select the "blog this" icon on your photo page and type in a few thoughts, then publish. So easy! Here's the blog post I created with the flickr blog tool.
13. Tweet your photos. One of the limitations of twitter has been including photo images in tweets. Flickr recently made this easier by allowing you to link your twitter account to your flickr account. Follow the same steps for blogging in #12. All you need to do is add your twitter account info. Read the flickr blog for more info.
14. Use other people's photos. (with their permission of course) I can pull photos from my Mom's photostream and print them or use them on a scrapbook layout. I can use a photo from a complete stranger (if they have marked it ok with a creative commons license) to illustrate a blog post. I can browse through millions of photos to find inspiration for my own photography, to find decorating ideas, or even learn about other cultures.
15. Let other people use your photos. I've had some of my flickr photos featured on other websites. This has brought me more blog readers and helped me make friends and form connections.
16. Create mosaics and plenty of other fun projects. Some of my very favorite sites allow you to make cool things using pictures from your flickr photostream. I love Big Huge Labs, Mosaickr,and Spell with Flickr, but there are plenty more listed at Mashable right here.
17. Subscribe to a photographer's RSS feed. Why would you want to do this if you have them marked as a contact? It can be hard to follow the work of everyone you have in your contact list. I subscribe to my husband's flickr RSS feed so I can see anytime he uploads something new. He does the same with my feed. It's great because I don't have to remind him to go look at our pictures. If there are photographers you want to pay close attention to, just add their feed to your RSS reader and you will be alerted any time they upload something marked for public viewing.
the feed is at the bottom of your profile page
18. Create your own online portfolio. Someone want to see your work? Just sent them to your flickr photostream. This is a lot easier and much less expensive than trying to maintain your own portfolio site. You can also customize the way your home page displays photos.
19. Explore new places. You can see places you never dreamed of and travel the world via your computer. See what's going on in the White House, or check out the scenery in Osaka, Japan. There are all sorts of ways to explore on flickr and you can see the most amazing places!
Flickr will even suggest places to explore at the bottom of your home page. I had never even heard of this place in India.
20. Plan trips - this goes along with #19, but you can use Flickr to scope out places you might want to travel. Add photos of dream destinations to your favorites. Scope out the best photos before you arrive at your destination and you will have insider's information on where and what to shoot while you are there. Who needs travel brochures when you have the world at your fingertips?
A few other great flickr related links to check out:
- I Heart Faces - Using Flickr to Improve Your Photography
- Mashable - Flickr Toolbox
- Big Huge Labs - Flickr Toys
- Galleries are a new feature on flickr