Welcome to Flickr, Here’s What You’ve Been Missing

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The Flickr renaissance got a bit of a push this week when Instagram tried to change their terms of service, thus igniting the rage of people who are neither able to accept change nor understand business.

As a result, many have discovered Flickr for the first time. I have gotten more contact requests over there in the last week than I have in probably the past two or three years combined.

And while Flickr has indeed languished since being acquired by Yahoo and yes, they blew it when it comes to social, mobile and all of the other things that power the modern web (their new iPhone app, however, has been receiving almost universally positive reviews) they seem, perhaps, poised for a comeback.

Which is great for those of us who never left. I have had a Flickr pro account since 2007 (you can find me here), making it one of my longest continuously active social media presences. And one that I actually pay for. Something that probably seems almost incomprehensible in a day where we’ve grown to expect consumer-oriented web services to be free (…or else).

I never left because there is not a better service (that I know of) that allows me to simultaneously host and organize full-resolution digital photos AND interact with and learn from other photography buffs. And I have also loved Flickr as a lightweight way to manage libraries of photos for small to mid-sized newsrooms (more on that in a bit).

The community on Flickr has definitely changed over the years. It was invaluable as I started getting into digital photography (roughly when I joined Flickr) and the community has, in fact, declined considerably over the years. I’ll give the critics that. But even as the community aspects of Flickr waned, it has remained (in my opinion) the best way to organize photos online.

I’ve used it not only personally but also professionally. For small to mid-sized newsrooms Flickr an amazing service even just as a way to store photo. Show me any site that gives you unlimited storage for $25 a year and has built in tools for organizing photos into sets, collections, by tags and to control which photos are public and which are private.

So, for $25 you can store all of your full-resolution images in neatly organized sets and collections. Easily searchable. Available from anywhere you can connect to the internet (instead of in a folder on someone’s hard drive back at the office, as is still far too often the case). Oh, and since Flickr allows people to add a creative commons license to their photos, it remains one of the best sources of high quality photos to accompany your latest story or blog post (especially if you don’t have your own staff photographer, wire service, stock library, etc.)

And then there are the social features that are actually still quite good, relatively speaking. Check out both groups (essentially a shared pool of photos that anyone can contribute to) and galleries (a way to curate collections of other users’ photos).

So, that’s all a way of saving that if you’re fairly serious about photography, Flickr has always been one of the best places for you.

If you’re coming over to Flickr from Instagram it might not seem all that great (at least for now). Although they do have the new mobile app and even the hipsteriffic filters (thanks a lot for THAT one, Instagram).

But I think if you stick around and explore the site a bit, you’ll find it to be well worth your time (and maybe even your money). I know it’s been worth mine.