Is it Really Time to “Give Up” on Flickr? Not so Fast, Wired…

Wired magazine is telling you to get your pics off Flickr pronto…are they correct?


According to an article that appeared in Wired magazine’s online edition today, Flickr is dead.

This came as a bit of a shock to me as I was busy (coincidentally) preparing a different article to this one, a post extolling the many benefits of the long-standing photo-sharing site.

Just so that you are absolutely clear, I want to say upfront that I am a big, big, fan of Flickr. I first signed up for a free account in 2007, and about a year later I upgraded to a paid (what Flickr calls “Pro”) account. Flickr is the only online photo service I pay for, although I have free accounts with a couple of other photo networks (I like to check things out, okay?).

Flickr does a better job than any of them. So what’s got Wired so riled up about the service. Well, Flickr has just announced a couple of changes to its service. One of these means the Flickr uploader app is now only available to paid subscribers.

camera roll sample
Pictures from yesterday and today automatically uploaded from my phone. They appear in the new Camera Roll section from where they are easily accessible. The eye symbol on the top left image indicates that the picture can be publicly viewed, while the lock symbol on the other pics indicates they are “Private”, i.e., they cannot be publicly viewed until I change the setting.

The uploader scans whatever device its installed on for photographs and automatically uploads them to your Flickr account. These pictures are hidden from public view until you decide otherwise. I’ve had it installed on my desktop almost since it was launched about a year ago and it’s uploaded close to 20 000 pictures from my hard drive and another external USB drive. It also automatically uploads pictures from my phone without me having to do anything.

Eventually I had to deactivate the desktop uploader because of bandwith issues. But fibre is coming to our neighbourhood (hopefully next month) and then it’ll be all-systems-go again until every last picture is safely stored in the cloud!

With a free account you get 1 terrabyte of storage! That’s far, far more than any other photo hosting platform gives you. But, with a paid account I get unlimited storage. Not that I’ll ever need it. Right now, with those 20 000+ photos I’m still only using about 48 GB of space.

flickr storage used graphic

But Flicker is much more than just a storage service. It’s also a great social network and photo sharing site. After all, that’s why it was started in the first place. Regardless of your particular photographic affinity, you’ll find a group (or groups) where you can not only display photographs, but engage in lively debate as well. Flickr’s dynamic group dynamics is one of the things that keeps legions of Flickr-ites hooked to the site.

One of the things that surprised me about the Wired article was the number of Flickr fans who immediately sprang to its defense. This was a real joy to behold because, usually, when Flickr announces any changes the forums are full of people predicting its immanent demise. I guess it’s a case of “hometown syndrome” – I can say what I like about where I live, but woe betide any outsider who bad-mouths the neighbourhood.

To make matters worse, Wired ran another article titled How to Get Your Photos Off Flickr (and Where to Put Them)! I can think of a few places I’d like to put the article.

So, should you follow Wired’s ill-considered advice and ditch Flickr? On the contrary, there’s never been a better time to enjoy it. If you love your photography but you’ve never had a Flickr account, do yourself a huge favour and go get one a.s.a.p. If you are a member but haven’t checked it out for awhile, it’s definitely time to re-acquaint yourself with the site.


2 thoughts on “Is it Really Time to “Give Up” on Flickr? Not so Fast, Wired…”

  1. Nice piece. The Wired article is distinctly lacking in insight:

    500px neither wants nor encourages you to store ALL of your photos (or “phodoze” if you prefer the nasally Californian pronunciation) with them. In fact their front page describes it as, “Home to everyone’s best photos. Showcase your work, license amazing photos, and stay inspired.”

    SmugMug might make a good platform for selling your work if you are US or UK based, but it certainly isn’t offering a free Terabyte (or anything free) and lacks any deep social functions.

    Facebook certainly lets you share with your existing friends but it’s no photography tool as such.

    Google – to quote Walt Mossberg: “Finally, while Google promises privacy and the app has no ads, using it requires you to trust a company whose business model is tracking your actions and selling ads.” Even if that doesn’t bother you, you only get 15Gb free for fully uncompressed photos. Above the 15Gb, anything over 16 Megapixels is compressed.

    None of which is to say that these services are “bad” but to glibly dismiss Flickr when it offers clear advantages over the named alternatives is sloppy journalism.

    1. Two Wired articles in succession denigrating Flickr and both pushing Google photos? Hmmm. I have noticed a sharp drop in visits to my Flickr pics from Google search over the past year or so, and I don’t think this is entirely due to poor SEO on my part. I think Google has actually down-weighted Flickr in it’s algorithm. It’s natural, I suppose, for the company to want to promote its own services, like Google Photos, although, ultimately, UX will suffer.

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