The honor of my first GWA recommendation goes to Flickr. What? Did you think I’d start with one of Google’s many services? Nah. Flickr’s creativity, history of innovation, and its ability to enable people makes this photo sharing service a joy for me to recommend to everyone. Why is Flickr amazing? Besides its many powerful features, Flickr is amazing for the opportunities and experiences it opens everyday people to. Whether you’re a journalist documenting the war, or a grandmother who just want to see pics of her grandkids growing up, Flickr is a wonderful place to enable all kinds of photo sharing.
There are several reviews and resources that cover Flickr’s many features, and I’d take the tour if you want to learn about those. I’m much more interested in sharing some anecdotal stories. But no review could be complete without some mention of what Flickr is capable of, so here are some notes:
Sharing and Community Driven
Hands down, Flickr has the largest and most active community for photo sharing. There are oodles of ways you can share and explore photos on Flickr. There are also flexible privacy controls and copyright options. Flickr has the biggest repository of photos under Creative Commons and even hosts photos from the White House. And unlike some photo services, Flickr doesn’t require everyone else to signup to see your photos. My favorite least known feature is the ability to subscribe to a person’s set or tag via RSS.
Uploading and Archiving
Get a Flickr Pro account for a mere $25 a year. This gives you unlimited uploading of photos and videos, unlimited storage and bandwidth, and access to all your photos in original resolution. The Pro account gives you the added benefit of being fully ad free. However even with the free version, Flickr stands above the rest with the largest allowances.
Organize & Showcase Your Photos
Flickr was one of the earliest apps to integrate tagging. Each photo can have titles, descriptions, sticky notes right on the photo, comments and more recently people tags, and geolocation. All your EXIF data is retained too. Flickr’s Organizr is a robust and easy to use tool to add the richness and organize your photos into albums, sets and collections.
Mobile & Third Party Tools
Uploading photos from your phone is a breeze, as is accessing them with a mobile app. Connect Flickr to your Facebook, blog or Twitter accounts. Flickr’s API has allowed independent developers to create tools to expand Flickr’s services. There are 3rd party apps that enable you to print and make stuff with your photos, like photo books and calendars. Somewhat similar to WordPress, Flickr has a growing repository of tools and extensions that allow you to do fun things with your photos.
Experience Photos In New Ways
Only Flickr is innovating and evolving the ways in which we explore photos around the world. Whether it’s the clock, or a host of public museums and institutions, or a fascinating look on camera analytics, Flickr slices and dices photo data and keeps presenting stuff to us in fun and interesting ways.
The Real Power of Flickr Lies In Stories
Flickr has grown to over 5 billion images partly because of its ease of use and efficiency, two things the author of GWA takes very seriously when recommending a web app. And this enables beautiful stories with how we experience our photos. Here are a couple:
Flickr Brings Joy to the Grandmother (and Other Family Members)
Whenever a close friend of mine has a baby, I give them a ConnectX2 EyeFi card plus a Flickr pro account (total $75) . I know it’s a strange new mother gift, and I challenge you to find any mother/baby magazine or blog that recommends this. But let me tell you… it’s the gift that keeps on giving, year after year. The mother will thank you, the grandmother will kiss you for it, the relatives will love you, and eventually when the kid grows up some day, he may thank you too (if the photos are not embarrassing).
I think the Eye-Fi card is one of the best inventions ever, and Time magazine agrees with me. This SD card fits in most standard point and shoot cameras, and automatically uploads your photos to Flickr (and your hard drive), without you lifting so much as a finger! Mothers take hundreds of pictures of their baby, but don’t have any time to share them. This takes away that pain. No more excuses! Now the photos are shared via Flickr, making it easy for all of the new mother’s relatives and friends to see a continuous stream of photos and videos of the precious little one.
I’ve been told by one such mother how much joy seeing pictures of their grandson has brought to the grandmother. She proudly shares links of photos from Flickr with everyone at work. It feels good to know that just by introducing some simple tech and web services, I may have had a positive influence on this grandmother’s life. Her days are a little perkier, because she has easy access to fresh content of her grandson. And perhaps she’s adapting more to the web and computers too, if she wasn’t before. Now that’s power!
Flickr’s Ease of Use & Community Opens a World of Possibilities
Rebekka Guoleifsdottir a self taught photographer, got her start about 5 years ago when she started posting her pictures on Flickr. With some encouragement from the community, she pressed on; upgrading her equipment, and continued to post more pictures. While she lives in Iceland, Flickr allowed her to share her photos with everyone. Her pictures get a lot of attention and accolades from the media, and in 2006, she landed a lucrative deal with Toyota, where she was hired to shoot and appear in their advertisements.
I don’t know what made Rebekka decide to use Flickr. But I’m glad she did. Had she chosen some other service to share her photos, I don’t think she would received as much attention, or have had as much success. I think Flickr played a significant part in her story. The power of the community and interaction that came with the experience of her photos fueled the attention, and made it easy for her fans and admirers to spread her work around for everyone else to see. Had someone been forced to create an account to view her work, or found it hard to share her photos, her work would not have had nearly as much traction.
It’s stuff like this makes Flickr one of GWA‘s top picks and first featured post.